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Posted on Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 5:58 a.m.

Area leaders ask Washtenaw County officials to rethink cuts to human services funding

By Ryan J. Stanton

The Ann Arbor-based Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice plans to present a letter to Washtenaw County commissioners tonight calling for continued human services funding.

In the letter, 94 area faith and community leaders urge commissioners to protect the safety net that sustains the county's neediest populations.


Chuck Warpehoski

"With so many people suffering because of the economic crisis, now is not the right time to cut services that are so desperately needed," ICPJ Director Chuck Warpehoski said in a statement.

The proposed county budget for calendar years 2012 and 2013 includes a $455,538 cut in human services funding — down from $1.46 million — for programs that address issues like homelessness, domestic violence and child abuse.

The county board is planning to hold a special working session at 6:30 p.m. today to hear a report on community housing and food needs. Other members of the county's staff plan to discuss the proposed cuts in allocations to outside agencies.

The letter being presented tonight argues funding from the county is even more important now as state and federal support for safety net services is being cut.

"The need has never been greater," the letter reads. "In the last decade, Washtenaw County’s poverty rate has jumped from 11 percent to over 14 percent. Our unemployment rate in Michigan is over 10 percent. Food Gatherers has seen a 138 percent increase in the number of families receiving emergency food since 2006."

The letter notes the state is cutting thousands of Michigan families from the support they receive through the Family Independence Program and is making significant cuts to the Earned Income Tax Credit that helps low-income working families.

"The world’s moral and religious traditions share a call to care for the poor and vulnerable," the letter reads. "While our varied ethical and religious traditions differ and disagree on some points, we overwhelmingly agree on the need to support those who are in need."

The letter is signed by Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faith leaders, as well as leaders of groups like Food Gatherers, Child Care Network, Legal Services of South Central Michigan, SOS Community Services, Ozone House, Groundcover News and Alpha House.

Lack of funding will affect everyone, not just the county's most vulnerable residents, Washtenaw Housing Alliance Director Julie Steiner said in a statement.

"This funding is vital to the well-being of our community, especially for our children," she said. "For example, if families lose housing funding, as the new budget proposes, there will be more foreclosures leading to the decline of property values for all surrounding neighborhoods. Children will be without stable housing, and homeowners will lose money."

The county board will hold a public hearing on the budget at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 19. The board meets at the county administration building at 220 N. Main St.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's e-mail newsletters.



Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 4:34 p.m.

Why don't you take the proposed $15,000 for Verna and her 4 team committee, including herself, which would $75,000 and give it back to the shelter, which would almost cover the cost for the warming centers this winter or would you prefer to give it to those who already make over a $100,000 year, so that they can go someplace warm this winter instead of freezing like those without the shelter to warm them? There is no union employee getting paid extra for doing extra work ever, we do it or get fired. Most union members Unit B take home a month starting 2012 is going to between $1000 for most and maybe $1500 a month for a few lucky souls. Stop the waste. Really take a look a each department budgets, most of them have absurd line items for MISC in the $100's, what and who is that money going to? Why are so many consultants for department when county employees can do a lot of that work and would be happy to do it for a lot less then want they are paying the consultants. Stop spending money on wasteful things and start helping those who need it, not somebodies that make to much as it it. DO not give $75,000 to 5 people for doing a little extra work, don't hide it under misc, or some other way. Give it to the shelter to open the warming centers, stop abusing the very people you are suppose to help. And by the way, really, look at the contracts for those in Adminstration and see how much they get when they leave. How much did the former Deputy Adminstrator get after less than a year, $100, 000 or more? That is where the money goes people, not to the Unions but to those with golden parachurts or a least silver, just like WALL STREET, ruin the county but got bonus money anyway. What is wrong with the working class, that we keep taking this stuff Enough is enough.


Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 5:49 p.m.

ROADMAN THE UNIONS of Washtenaw County have taken cuts, over 350 of their employees will be TAKING HOME PAY of approximately between $1500 (if lucky) to as low as a $1000 A MONTH; after all the cuts in pay, deductions for medical, increase in retirement. This does not include office and prescription co pays and co insurance payments. The Unions are not the problem. The problem is the BOC and county administration spending money such as a proposed $15,000 a year bonus to 5 staff, all who make over $100,000 for doing extra work, including the County Administrator, who will get it for serving on her owncommittee I work for the county, no union employee as every gotten extra money for extra work, when staff was cut and cut again, we were told do it or get fired. Of the approximate 1000 employees (more or less), 50 administrative staff and doctors make over the $100,000 a year mark. Those are the people who need to take cuts. Even for jobs over $50,000 most of those are NON-UNION. Ann had a look at the salary of county employee a few months back,(those salaries did not include days without pay) take a real good look at and you will see who gets the money. It is not UNION employees, we have given and given and given again while they waste money on silly and stupid things, last year they had to help pay for the HUMANE SOCIETY, this year it is not so important which tells me they lie, and lie again.


Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 4:39 a.m.

Where do the "union" leaders stand on this issue? Maybe GM and the UAW should have paid the rest of the 24 Billion dollars they owe before they gave more money to the unions.

Chuck Warpehoski

Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 3:39 p.m.

I didn't have them on the call list, though I'm pretty sure the ones I know would have signed if asked.

Dog Lover

Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 6:11 p.m.

Government funding in addition to donations is what keeps these organizations a float. Donations are even harder to come by these days and non-profits spend a large portion of time and money fundraising. We have so many donors and volunteers who now need the services they once supported. We are all only 1 pink slip away from needing the services that our wonderful non-profits provide. No one expects the county to take on the full burden, but supporting agencies to help residents makes sense. If you look at the most prosperous cities and countries - they embrace a collaborative environment between government & agencies.

Martin Church

Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 5:09 p.m.

Hey you liberal churchs. It's time for your membership to step up to the plate. ask them for the money you need to run the programs. Stop asking the tax payers to pay for your ministers. I support programs that work. I don't support those that don't. the taxpayers can no longer support you. I volunter to take care of different youth. I do this without taxpayer support. It's time for you to do the same. If your program is from GOD it will continue, if not it should fail to get the support.

Chuck Warpehoski

Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 3:38 p.m.

First, the signers weren't all from churches, they also included synagogues, mosques, businesses, and other community leaders. Second, the religious community is tremendously supportive of human services. It's not just explicitly faith-affiliated programs like Interfaith Hospitality Network, the St. Andrew's Breakfast Program, and POWER, inc., congregations and people of faith are major sources of volunteers and donors for Peace Neighborhood Center, SOS Community Services, and many other local nonprofits. People and communities of faith are doing a lot, but the need is greater than they can shoulder, especially as federal and state funds dry up.

Robot Charles

Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 5:03 p.m.

End tax exempt status for religious groups or I'll invent my own religion just like Tom Cruise and provide Human Services to the wealthy to help balance things out.


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 4:35 p.m.

Have the County Commission cut salaries of county employees down to size and re-allocate those monies to alleviate the suffering of the poor. It's a shame to see the elderly or schoolchildren go hungry or be without basic human needs. Remember when the county expended funds to sue a homeless veteran, Dwayne Dye, for defamation and retained an outside law firm to do so? What a waste of taxpayer funds! What is even more embarrassing that we have current and former county commissioners who refuse to disgorge over $8,000.00 in per diem and mileage overpayments that were confirmed in an audit. Think of all the meals that could be furnished if those commissoners would simply pay back what they never have denied owing the county. I hope the voters remember Commissioners Conan Smith and Barbara Bergman at election time.

Sandy Castle

Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 7:21 p.m.

You're obviously not paying attention to the news or you would know that county employees just agreed to take substantial paycuts. <a href=""></a>


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 4:32 p.m.

Where are these leaders when it come to voting republicon? Never has one party waged such a war on health and human services to benefit the very wealthy, yet it seems as if religion is the monopoly of the far right. What about getting your congregations to make a real difference this next election?


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 4:23 p.m.

There is a limit to the money available to local governments. In the last month we have seen discussions of water rate increases in local communities, sidewalk and street millages, enhancement millages for schools, increases in public safety millages in townships, discussions of increased gas taxes and auto registration fees. Where does the demand for more tax money end? How do we get it under control? I agree that human services are critical to the community, but we seem to attract people from all over to the area because we offer so much. I talked to 4 street people recently, and all of them have no ties to the local community. They all moved here because they got a better deal. NOW, this is purely anecdotal information, but it would be good to understand this issue. I am all in favor of support residents who need help. I am less interested in attracting people from elsewhere because we offer more services than anyone else.

Chuck Warpehoski

Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 3:34 p.m.

As I understand it, the Delonis shelter and pretty much all other homeless services in the county require that the person became homeless in the county. A friend of mine works for the Education Project for Homeless Youth; her case load doubled over the last year to over 400. These are kids who are enrolled in Washtenaw County schools and whose families are now homeless. Some folks may be coming in from out of town, but most of the people receiving services are from here.


Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 2:24 p.m.

The new state tax on corporations increased taxes on the big companies and provided tax relief to the small guys. We don't have that many &quot;wealthy&quot; people in Washtenaw County and the county does not have the ability to levy an income tax. Even if it did the state constitution calls for a flat income tax. So if you want county income taxes (this is the level of government being discussed) help Jeff Irwin. He wants a 5 tier income tax in the state, maybe he can extend it to any unit of government that wants one. OBTW - the top bracket would start with families earning $80,000. That is wealthy in Michigan.


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 10:27 p.m.

Taxing the wealthy and wealthy corporations would help immensely.


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 3:44 p.m.

Sorrry, no money available. It would be nice if there were but there is not.

Billy Buchanan

Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 2:33 p.m.

Funding cuts are propably necessary in our economy. However, those cuts that are made should be carefully scrutinized as to who should and should not receive cuts to funding.

Chuck Warpehoski

Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 1:33 p.m.

Human Services funding benefits the entire community. Funding educational services strengthens our workforce and economy. Services for the elderly such as Motor Meals helps keep people in their homes, which actually saves money compared to Medicaid-funded retirement homes. And when programs like these help keep people in their homes and prevent evictions, they help maintain property values, which is both good for homeowners and for keeping the County budget funded. These services are even more important now as other elements of the social safety net face cuts. I just spoke to a Food Gatherers volunteer; like Mother Hubbard, their shelves are bare. With the Great Recession, people who used to be donors and volunteers at the food bank are now recipients.


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 4:41 p.m.

Chuck, there is tons of waste in the county budget. The county retained the outside law firm of Reach and Reach to file a defamation suit against a homeless veteran, Dwayne Dye, which was assigned to Judge Melinda Morris. Let the county explain how much that legal adventure cost the county and what the results were. There needs to be a rollback of county staff salaries. And we need to abolish the per diems paid to County Commisioners.

Top Cat

Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 1:02 p.m.

All the leaves have fallen off the money trees.


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 2:08 p.m.

More like its been over picked and died.


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 10:29 a.m.

Are these 'Leaders' willing to be taxed so that their ideas can be funded? I am all for donations to charity and think we all need and should donate to charity and our churches so that they can do their good work. Not willing to have government fund these -- we fund these entities through donations and then we as individuals can take a charitable deduction off our taxes. Funding these entities is not the county's role and that is why these are cut first. Privatize these human services and the people will be better served.

Dog Lover

Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 5:03 p.m.

Government funding in addition to donations is what keeps these organizations a float. Donations are even harder to come by these days and non-profits spend a large portion of time and money fundraising. We have so many donors and volunteers who now need our services. We are all only 1 pink slip away from needing the services that our wonderful non-profits provide. No one expects the county to take on the full burden, but supporting agencies to help residents makes sense. If you look at the most prosperous cities and countries - they embrace a collaborative environment between government &amp; agencies.