Lately I have been asked a number of questions about the Macomb County Board of Commissioners’ (BoC) choice to appeal the court’s decision in lawsuit filed against us by the County Executive. I’d like to talk about why the BoC is appealing the court’s decision.
At issue are purchasing and contracting measures passed by the BoC which intended to bring significant contracts executed by county administrators under review during public Board meetings.
As a result of the Circuit Court’s ruling in favor of the County Executive last month, Macomb County has been rendered the only county government (or local government we know of) in Michigan without contract approval required from an elected governing body. The Board of Commissioners does not believe this constitutes responsible governing — particularly not for the third-largest county in Michigan.
It is my firm belief that decisions made behind closed doors provide no transparency or accountability to taxpayers — these goals are only achieved when decisions concerning taxpayer dollars are discussed (or information is made available) at public meetings. For example, the Executive’s office now posts check amounts on the county website after the checks have been issued (with no indication what the transaction is for) and feels this is transparency — this is too little information, offered too late.
It is crucial to note that the Board only seeks review of one-third of one percent of all county contracts (those totaling $35,000 or more, and construction contracts above $100,000.) These amounts were reached in concurrence with the Office of the Executive. The Board is NOT asking to negotiate contracts, nor is it trying to execute contracts — that is the role of the County Executive. We only want to review the contracts as described in the procurement ordinance and in the contracting policy (which is required by the county charter.) These policies not only protect taxpayers from potential impropriety by future officials by making county business public, but they also work for Macomb County businesses. As it stands, without these policies, businesses don’t have a fair and open shot at being awarded contracts with the county.
While we support the initiatives of our new County Executive, as a Board of Commissioners and as residents of this county, we can’t put our trust in one person during this precedent-setting time. All elected officials come and go, and the parameters we set today can hurt us in the long run if they come without checks and balances and safeguards in place.
This issue is about moving forward together on solid footing indefinitely. Let’s not learn the hard way that government needs to operate openly and answer to its people!
Tell us what you are thinking… the full Board of Commissioners meets monthly on the 9th floor of 1 S. Main, Mount Clemens, 48043. To find out meeting dates and times, or to view agendas for all of our meetings, visit www.MacombBoC.com or call us at (586) 469-5125.