Message from Verna J. McDaniel,
Washtenaw County Administrator
It is truly an honor to serve as your County Administrator. I have been in public service for 39 years, 32 of which have been with Washtenaw County. I have spent most of my time at the County as the Director of Human Resources, and prior to becoming the County’s Administrator in 2010 I also served as the Deputy Administrator.
I am proud to be a part of this organization built upon Guiding Principles, Core Competencies and a vision of being world class. I plan to build upon the knowledge and experience which has enabled this organization to become a world class service provider. I will uphold this legacy by reminding myself and my team, every day, why we’re here – steadfast dedication to servicing the public and a commitment to excellence. This commitment to excellence has guided us through the tough economic times we’ve experience these past several years, and has helped us recover and put us back on the path of success.
Over these past four years I’ve had the honor and privilege of working with one of the most dynamic and effective Board of Commissioners that Washtenaw County has ever seen. Their leadership and steadfast commitment to public service has been a great inspiration to me, as they have helped guide Washtenaw County into a new era of communal responsibility and accountability.
Through the efforts of the Board and County Administration, we have been able to achieve a number of accomplishments, all of which I am very proud of and I wish to share with you.
Last November we were able to pass a four year budget for the county that will run through 2017. This is the first four year budget the Board of Commissioners has ever passed and I firmly believe that this budget sets a standard for fiscal responsibility and organizational stability, while also opening new avenues for future investment and development. Most importantly however, this four year budget helps ensure a safety net for all the people of Washtenaw County in the form of expanding and developing our health and human service programs for our children and most vulnerable citizens.
This past year we also received an upgraded bond rating from Standards & Poor’s, increasing our bond rating from AA+ to AAA, the highest debt rating possible. With our increased bond rating we join an elite group, as only two other Michigan counties (Oakland and Kent) have a triple-A rating. By the end of 2013, we had a surplus fund balance of $20.7 million, which we are extremely proud of. I attribute our increased bond rating to a number of initiatives that we have undertaken over the past four years, but I emphasize the importance of our four year budget. The four year budget has directly led to our increased bond rating and in doing so, has opened up new opportunities for our future investments and projects which will help improve the greater area of Washtenaw County.
In addition to our four year budget and increased bond rating, we have also seen the broad implementation of the counties Five Year Space Plan. Just as we have done with our budgeting process, we have sought a long term, financially responsible solution when considering our building and property needs. Through the Five Year Space Plan we have been able to utilize up to 90% of our current building capacity, which allows us to reduce the necessity for leasing private property. This saves the county a substantial amount of funding which we are able to then reallocate to other programs that concentrate on expanding our outreach to the people of Washtenaw County.
One great example of this outreach can be seen through our Public Health Department, who in partnership with Saint Joseph Mercy Health System and Michigan Community Dental Clinics, are opening the Washtenaw County Dental Clinic in downtown Ypsilanti. This clinic will open in January of 2015 and will begin providing dental care for people throughout Washtenaw County, with a primary focus on low income families. This is a great example of the public and private sector coming together for the greater good, which is something we consistently strive for here at Washtenaw County. Over the next several years we will continue to develop and implement projects like these and continue to seek meaningful and effective partnerships with other agencies throughout our community, in our effort to provide the citizens of Washtenaw County with the finest and most professional services possible.
I am also proud to recognize the award we received from the national Alliance for Innovation, for Outstanding Achievement in Local Government. We received this award in April of 2014 for the creation of our Quadrennial Budget for Financial Sustainability, which we presented to the national Alliance for Innovation. This award is a great honor for all of us here at Washtenaw County Government, as I believe it’s a true testament to the passion and diligence of our county employees.
In closing, I want to thank all the residents of Washtenaw County for their continued support over these past four years. It’s a privilege to serve as your County Administrator. And lastly, I would like to thank all the county employees for their continued commitment to excellence and their persistent dedication to public service. It is through your efforts that we are able to continue to make Washtenaw County such an excellent place to work and live.
Verna J. McDaniel