The Livingston County Board of Commissioners is expected to discuss economic development services when it meets in committee next week.

Commissioners adopted the county’s 2018 budget this past Monday night but ended up having somewhat lengthy discussion on the line item for economic development services with Ann Arbor Spark. The county currently contracts with Spark as part of a regional partnership. The $200,000 line item was described as a “place saver” in the budget, and that the actual contract and amount would be reviewed and potentially renewed separately. The county’s current contribution is $200,000 and other local municipalities participate financially, but not all.

Commissioner Dave Domas raised concerns at the meeting about the expense versus benefit for economic development services, saying many in his district have expressed dissatisfaction with the amount and he feels the money might be better spent elsewhere. Domas said he’s repeatedly requested a budget to determine where the local money is spent but has never received that information, adding he doesn’t see a lot of product and feels the county is basically financing Ann Arbor Spark. He also stated the county has been and remains very business friendly, thus much retention and other ventures can be attributed to that.

Other commissioners commented that economic development is among the items targeted in the county’s Strategic Plan, the line item was not unexpected and a presentation from Spark was forthcoming. In regard to statement about other municipalities not participating, board chair Kate Lawrence commented that doesn’t change their responsibility to provide services and economic development is needed for the county as a whole.

The discussion eventually tapered off, as most commissioners felt the most appropriate place discuss the topic would be at the General Government & Health and Human Services Subcommittee meeting. It starts at 7:30pm Monday night. (JM)