Update from Administrator/Controller Kelli Scott
Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020
Calhoun County Public Health Department Recognized for Preparedness
The Calhoun County Public Health Department was recognized in a recent monthly newsletter by the Bureau of Emergency Management Services, Trauma and Preparedness for continuing to demonstrate the ability to plan for, respond to, and recover from public health emergencies. This achievement is part of Project Public Health Ready, which is a set of nationally recognized standards for emergency response capacity. Our Public Health Department applies every five years to maintain this recognition status, and is one of only five health departments identified for this achievement.
 
This recognition is earned in the regular trainings the Public Health Department has always done for emergency situations, but especially in the real-time emergency of the COVID-19 pandemic. Particularly in recent weeks, as the number of daily positive COVID-19 cases is increasing, the Public Health Department staff competently manages contact tracing, epidemiological work, and the barrage of questions we all have for them at this time. Using their training and know-how, the Public Health Department staff has sustained this emergency response through the months its been ongoing. Please join me in thanking the Public Health Department nurses and staff who have shown tremendous dedication to their roles at his time and actively make Calhoun County safer and healthier as a result.
Here is what else is going on in Calhoun County:
At the Sept. 17 Beyond the Cereal Bowl community leaders event convened by Harper Creek School District Superintendent Rob Ridgeway, which took place virtually, I was one of five guest speakers, providing an update about the county, alongside Commissioner Derek King and Health Officer Eric Pessell.
 
Also on Sept. 17, Sept. 24 and Sept. 30, we continued negotiations with employees within the Road Department represented by the Teamsters Local 214 Union. Their contract expires at the end of October, and we hope to recommend a new contract to the Board of Commissioners before that time. Negotiations are ongoing.
 
On Monday, Sept. 21 I met with City of Marshall and Kellogg Community College officials regarding the Marshall South Neighborhood Improvement Authority (NIA) to hear updates on this proposed residential development project. The NIA Board has approved a Tax Increment Financing Plan, which includes a proposed county tax capture agreement, requiring the County’s approval in accordance with our Board Policy 291-Tax Sharing. This NIA was created earlier in 2020, and we expect the Board of Commissioners will vote on the TIF Plan at the next meeting on Oct. 15.
 
The Audit/Finance Committee for the Summit Pointe Board met on Tuesday, Sept. 22 and approved for recommendation to the full Board changes to the organization's procurement policy, as well as its FY21 budget. I serve as chair of this committee because of my role as Board treasurer. Commissioner Kathy-Sue Vette is the Summit Pointe Board chair and serves as ex officio on all committees.  
 
On Monday, Sept. 28 there was a Calhoun County Planning Commission meeting, at which we recommended for approval PA116 farmland preservation applications for properties within Newton, Clarendon and Homer Townships. The Commission also voted to support reappointment of Dr Terance Lunger and John Sackrider, whose terms recently expired. Commissioner Gary Tompkins and I serve on the CCPC on behalf of the County.
 
Due to a recent spike in COVID-19 cases, we have scheduled live Calhoun County Joint Information Center (JIC) Briefings every other week, and one was held yesterday, Sept. 30. At this briefing with elected officials and local media, Deputy Health Officer Brigette Reichenbaugh explained that recent outbreaks are from gatherings, such as weddings, funerals, or birthday parties. Updates were also provided about flu vaccinations, recent executive orders on gatherings, Full Blast in Battle Creek, and Halloween resources. Click here for the slides, watch a recording of the briefing on Youtube, or visit calhouncountymi.gov for all Joint Information Center Briefings.

Regarding Calhoun County's budget process: Last week, we held budget meetings with the internal and Board of Commissioners budget teams, reviewing General Fund budget requests for 2021 and assessing how we can close a potential $5M shortfall, caused mainly by flat levels of local revenues coupled with inflationary levels of expense increases. The State’s budget for FY2021 brought good news as it spares County revenue sharing from cuts we originally were expecting. And property tax revenues look stable, providing a small increase to our largest operational revenue source. But other revenues that rely partly on economic conditions, such as court fines and fees, boarding of jail beds and other departmental revenues have been reduced for a few years and are especially vulnerable as we emerge from COVID-19 and its restrictions on activity. Countywide leaders have been asked to examine ways to reduce their required General Fund appropriation, such as keeping current vacancies unfilled, and in fact our judiciary, elected officials and department heads have done a phenomenal job in recognizing the need for such reductions.

More work is ahead to solve the difficult challenge of how to provide mandated services at quality levels, with a shortfall equaling about 10% of our total revenues. The County is required to present a balanced budget by December and we’ve done that each year within my 11 year tenure as Administrator/Controller. Over the next month this work will include revisiting key budget assumptions and factors, including employee health insurance and pension costs, potential opportunities for increased revenues, technology solutions and personnel efficiencies. One hope is that changing normal operations during the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020 has given the County many opportunities to deliver exceptional services to our residents in new ways, some of which could cost less to taxpayers.
Calhoun County Board of Commissioners
Around the County
Information from the Calhoun County Clerk
In Conversation with the Battle Creek Urban League
Calhoun County Clerk Kimberly Hinkley joined the Battle Creek Urban League today on Facebook Live for a conversation about the upcoming presidential election. This informative discussion answers questions particular to this election, clearing up confusion about absentee voting and explaining what social distancing measures will be taken on election day. Watch the video on the Urban League's Facebook.

Update form the Public Health Department
Flu Season Has Arrived, Time to Get Your Flu Shot!
Beginning today, October 1, 2020, the Calhoun County Public Health Department (CCPHD) is offering flu vaccine during multiple upcoming events. The flu shot will be available by appointment at both Health Department locations (Albion and Battle Creek) during normal business hours. The CCPHD will also be hosting several flu clinics across the county throughout October and November. The Health Department has created a list of vaccination opportunities and is working with community partners to provide additional flu vaccination opportunities.

While seasonal influenza (flu) viruses are detected year-round in the United States, flu viruses are most common during the fall and winter. The exact timing and duration of flu seasons can vary, but influenza activity often begins to increase in October. Most of the time, flu activity peaks between December and February, although activity can last as late as May.

Who should get the flu “shot” vaccine? Everyone 6 months and older needs a flu vaccine, especially this year. Widespread flu vaccination will reduce the spread of flu during the COVID pandemic and prevent serious illness as much as possible. It can also reduce the chances of people becoming infected with both flu and COVID-19 at the same time.

Influenza viruses are spread from person to person primarily through sneezing and coughing. The virus may also be spread through contact with germs on the hands of a sick person or by touching objects or surfaces that have been touched by a sick person. It is important for all Calhoun County residents to remember that we are still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and with flu season also upon us, it is still critically important to:

  • Wear a face covering in public, indoor spaces – each person wearing a mask protects the other people around them.
  • Social distance, with at least six feet between people in different households.
  • Wash your hands frequently, for at least 20 seconds or if soap and water is not available, use an alcohol-based cleaner/hand sanitizer. Washing your hands is the single most important way to stop the spread of influenza.

For information about flu shot clinic events and more information from the Public Health Department, visit calhouncountymi.gov and click 2020 Flu Resources under the Health tab at the top.
Update from the County Census Committee
Last chance to fill out your Census form! 2020 Census self-response is open for another few days in October. Watch this video, learn how Census data impacts services in our community, and then fill out your form if you haven't already! If you have, share this video on your social media accounts so your friends and family can fill out theirs as well.
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