2021 Grand Traverse County Annual Report

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Looking back on 2021, County Administrator Nate Alger reflects on the improvements done to the County and the effects covid-19 brought.





Meet the 7 County Commissioners striving to make Grand Traverse County a better place to be.






Grand Traverse County Departments made an impact in 2021, learn how below.



In 2021 Grand Traverse County was awarded for its work in various sectors pertaining to the betterment of Grand Traverse County.


County Parks and Recreation update.




2021 brought new and innovative ways to service Grand Traverse County residents, including some new technology and equipment.

2021 was a busy year for the Health Department during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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A Letter From County Administrator

NATE ALGER As Grand Traverse County demonstrates its resiliency during the COVID-19 pandemic we are also creating a framework upon which we can build a prosperous future for our residents, visitors, and employees. 2021 was challenging as we continued to experience the impacts of the pandemic and yet, still had to keep up with a community that was out experiencing all that the Grand Traverse region has to offer. Grand Traverse County (GTC) has an unprecedented opportunity to shape the next era of county services to our residents. In 2021 GTC addressed the long-standing pension liability that has anchored us in a position of outdated current services model. This action, along with a strong tax base, allowed us to address the wages and compensation of our employees to make them more competitive, add staff to provide service that is more reflective of 2022, and change our Enterprise Resource and Planning software that manages our organization so we may take control of the organization without being impeded by an outdated platform. All of this leads to operational efficiency and improved service. 2021 also changed the governance structure of Grand Traverse County. After the 2020 census results the GTC Apportionment Commission redistricted the county from 7 to 9 districts. Effective January 1, 2023, the GTC Board of Commissioners will go from 7 to 9 Commissioners.

In June of 2021 GTC received our first installment of $9 million dollars of a total of $18.1 million in funds given to us to spend through the American Rescue Plan Act. We have created the GTC American Rescue Plan Advisory Committee (ARPAC) to help us navigate the best way to spend these dollars. The ARPAC is composed of leaders in our community and represents 11 sectors that represent this community. GTC and the ARPAC are striving to take full advantage of these funds and those of the larger infrastructure package to create the base of the best future possible. The Grand Traverse region continued to attract visitors last year in record numbers, coming to see our shorelines, festivals, breweries, and wineries. GTC is a four-season destination, and we serve our visitors well through our thriving tourism industry. Partners like Traverse City Tourism make sure that visitors to our county take full advantage of all that GTC has to offer. Our community stepped up and met the demand regardless of staffing shortages and supply chain issues. I am pleased to say that opportunity abounds and that GTC is in a very favorable position to take full advantage of the opportunities that come to us.

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"I'm humbled and delighted to be involved in the progress Grand Traverse County has made in recent years. From cleaning up old outdated ordinances to addressing an underfunded 9figure pension obligation, creating sound fiscal policies to ensure stability for generations to come, adopting new robust ethics and personnel policies and resolving to protect individual rights of medical autonomy, I've never seen a more effective county commission when it comes to getting things that matter done.

Chairman Rob Hentschel


Grand Traverse County Board of Commissions envisions a community that preserves a beautiful and healthy environment making Grand Traverse County a desirable community in which to live where the safety of its community is of utmost concern and that focuses on the well-being of all its people.

"Your commissioners are heavily involved in our community and dedicated to outcomes that improve the quality of life for residents of Grand Traverse County." Chairman Rob Hentschel


Rob Hentschel Easy Bay, Paradise & Fife Lake District 7 Vice Chair

Ron Clous Green Lake, Grant, Mayfield & Blair District 5

Betsy Coffia Peninsula & Traverse City District 1

Bryce Hundley Traverse City & Garfield District 2

Brad Jewett Garfield & Blair District 3 Penny Morris Long Lake & Green Lake District 4

Darryl Nelson East Bay, Acme & Whitewater District 6 Page 4

"Being solid in our finances will allow us to continue and improve services to our constituents and community." Commissioner Brad Jewett

MAJOR ACTIONS The Board of Commissioners (BOC) acted on a wide range of issues and initiatives within Grand Traverse County in 2021. Listed below are a few highlights from throughout the year.


BONDING THE COUNTY'S PENSION The BOC approved bonding the County's pension obligation ensuring that its MERS pension program is fully funded. Issuing the pension obligation bonds stabilizes the county’s payment for its pension obligation at a much lower cost than the previously required payment and frees up millions that were previously committed to future liability. This action allows the County to fund programs, initiatives, and services that may have been forgone due to the restriction placed on the budget due to the liability.


ORDINANCE CLEAN -UP The BOC approved the process of repealing outdated, unlawful, or suspended ordinances as part of a clean-up project. For the remaining ordinances, the BOC approved reformatting and relisting them so that the public can easily search and reach the ordinances on the County Clerk's webpage.


9.5% EMPLOYEE WAGE INCREASE The BOC approved the 2022 annual budget to include a 4.5% increase in pay for all County employees. Subsequent to a comparative market analysis on wages, the BOC also approved the implementation of an additional 5% market adjustment for all, resulting in a 9.5% increase in total for all eligible GTC employees.

"I am most proud of how we have worked together as a Commission, and with Administration, to take on some really big projects that will continue to help the County serve our citizens for years into the future."

Commissioner Darryl Nelson Page 6

"The County is most definitely in a positive place our financial position is the best it has been in a long time. Look for more positive changes in 2022 and beyond." Commissioner Darryl Nelson


HIGHLIGHTS 13TH CIRCUIT COURT The 13th Circuit Court led the way in Jury Trials during a Pandemic. 13th Circuit Court staff, attorneys, and judges strategized about ways to continue the flow of justice during a pandemic. This led to state and national leadership in the conduct of trials and general courts in the era of social distancing and masks. The 13th Circuit Court conducted the first jury trial in the State of Michigan [and likely one of the first in the United States] following the imposition of coronavirus limitations. While several trials were conducted during 2021, each was the result of careful planning and coordination with our county partners, the local health departments, and locations throughout the circuit where appropriate space could be provided to potential jurors.

911 CENTRAL DISPATCH 911 Dispatch had spent the good part of 2021 in planning, design, and construction efforts for a new Michigan Public Safety Communications System (MPSCS) 800MHz radio tower. This new radio tower will be part of the greater statewide network, providing redundancy in connectivity, and improved radio communications/paging coverage for all Grand Traverse County public safety agencies. This project was paid for with 911 surcharge revenue, which is earmarked specifically for the needs of 911 and public safety communication systems.

"I like serving my community. I Like knowing I am a part of a body that has the same goal in mind and that is making our community prosper and be of service to the constituents we serve."

Commissioner Brad Jewett COMMISSION ON AGING The Commission on Aging (COA) provided services to approximately 1,770 Grand Traverse County seniors (persons aged 60 and older) in 2021. The COA continued to provide services to clients safely during the pandemic, which included the provision of special services in response to COVID-19. The COA office staff scheduled 426 seniors for COVID vaccinations at the Grand Traverse County clinic sites. A nursing team was also assembled in 2021 that safely provided COVID vaccinations to approximately 100 homebound seniors. In addition, the COA can provide grocery shopping services for homebound clients. COA staff is proud to have made a positive impact in the community by responding to special needs brought on by the pandemic, continuing to provide essential services and socialization during this challenging time of isolation for area seniors. Page 9

COUNTY CLERK 658 Marriages 283 Divorces 1,882 CPLs 1,864 Births 1,779 Deaths 854 Passport photos 780 Business Names

CONSTRUCTION CODE PERMITS Construction Code issued various permits in 2021 as seen below. Plumbing 1,076

COUNTY TREASURER The County Treasurer improved its online customer service. The Treasurer continued to offer online scheduling for passport appointments which helps in staff scheduling and improves customer service. An upgrade to the Treasurer's capabilities was done so that applicants can fill out the application online eliminating errors and having to complete the form multiple times. The Treasurer's Office also continued to work through the changing foreclosure process. An allowance was written into the foreclosure judgment allowing the Treasurer's Office to be lenient on foreclosure requirements and grant extensions for COVID-related issues. This addition was utilized for multiple properties benefitting many county residents, keeping foreclosing on their property limited. Treasurer's Office issued: 1,059 Passports over 200 more than 2020.

Mechanical 2,431

Buildings 1,116

Electrical 1,913

DRAIN COMMISSIONER The Drain Commissioner restored Miller Creek's natural flow. The Drain Commissioner made several capital improvements to the Cass Road Drain which included eliminating several of Miller Creek’s flow restrictions and providing natural flow to the stream for the first time in over 100 years. No flooding from Miller Creek has occurred since installation, despite epic storm events in August and October of 2021. Inspection of other County Drains included tours with County Commissioners and Township Supervisors to acquaint them with the county assets within their jurisdiction and the need for future maintenance to maintain public health, safety, and welfare.

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HEALTH DEPARTMENT The Grand Traverse County Health Department partnered with Northwestern Michigan College to open a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic at NMC’s Hagerty Center on January 18, 2021. The clinic served the Greater Grand Traverse County area administering 41,669 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for ages 12 and older. The Health Department staff was assisted by the Michigan National Guard, United Way, Munson Medical Center, Grand Traverse County Facilities, and IT Departments, as well as many dedicated volunteers. These collective efforts were recognized for the level of community coordination and logistical leadership. On March 12, 2021, the Lt. Governor of the state of Michigan made a visit to the mass vaccination clinic while taking a tour and spending time with vaccination staff and volunteers. In addition to the mass vaccination site in Grand Traverse County, the Health Department provided 17 pop-up vaccination clinics in the community including 10 school-focused, 3 municipalities, 2 private businesses, and 2 hospitality (restaurant/brewery). The Health Department also staffed a vaccination clinic during the National Cherry Festival. Testing was moved to the Health Department’s main building. A combination of testing and vaccinations was offered to the community based on need and community access for the duration of 2021. Boosters 37,022

Vaccines Administered 290,475

Cumulative Cases 17,043

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MSU Extension offered a variety of successful education programs. In 2021, Grand Traverse County schools received approximately $73,172 in grant funds through MSU Extension's partnership with the United Dairy Industry of MI. Community Nutrition Instructors at MSU Extension shared safe food preparation, storage tips, and budget-friendly recipes highlighting locally grown fruits and vegetables to more than 300 families at food pantries and over 2,400 residents online. The MSU Product Center also provided 188 counseling sessions to 22 Grand Traverse County entrepreneurs and businesses with 134 employees, resulting in 2 new business starts and $3.5 million in combined annual sales.

Prosecuting Attorney Noelle Moeggenberg took part in the Reapportionment of the County Board of Commissioner Districts, a process that occurs every ten years following the census. Also the Prosecuting Attorney's Office resolved several cases in 2021. In the case of People v Brandon Reyes, the defendant was sentenced to 35 to 60 years with the Michigan Department of Corrections for charges which resulted from the kidnap and torture of two minor females. In People v Robert Richey, the defendant was sentenced to a minimum of 4 years and 3 months after a traffic stop resulted in the seizure of over 90 grams of methamphetamine. In people v Mark Jakee following a three day jury trial, the defendant was convicted on multiple counts of Criminal Sexual Conduct for sexual assaults that he had committed over three decades. The Circuit Court sentenced the defendant to 35-60 years in prison.

NORTHWEST REGIONAL AIRPORT AUTHORITY Northwest Regional Airport Authority was created in October 2021. Leelanau County and Grand Traverse County signed the Northwest Regional Airport Authority into effect. An Authority will now allow Cherry Capital Airport to flourish and grow to meet the continued growth of Grand Traverse County.

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REGISTER OF DEEDS # of Documents The Register of Deeds Office is continuing to recognize Year 2021 28,363 Documents more revenue than projected exceeding the 2021 2020 25,590 Documents revenue budget projected by 3/4 million dollars. The Register of Deeds office is responsible for recording and maintaining accurate property records for all land in Grand Traverse County. Homeowners, title companies, developers, and attorneys depend greatly on these Scrap Tires records.

Revenue $2,116,919 (+$432,938) $1,683,981 (+$133,695)


RESOURCE RECOVERY 9,000 Cubic yards of brush and leaves collected 20,000 Tons of material recycled by GTC residents


Batteries 16,000 HHW 173,500

In 2021, the Senior Center Network launched a curbside meals program for seniors. Curbside Meals was launched in response to the closure of the Senior Center Network Congregate Meal Program. This program filled a void and a purpose by continuing to help support the nutritional needs of our seniors in Grand Traverse County. The Senior Center Network proudly supports 6,236 members.

VETERAN AFFAIRS Veteran Affairs was instrumental in securing an estimated $4+ million in new benefits for Grand Traverse County Veterans and their families from the United States Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). Veteran Affairs will also have the opportunity to go mobile. A mobile unit was purchased and will allow Veteran Affairs to go out to various locations to assist veterans on the spot and raise awareness of the services offered to veterans.

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PARKS & REC MEDALIE PARK Medalie Park saw its highest number of pavilion reservations in 2021. Grand Traverse County Parks and Recreation continue their partnerships with TC Triton Rowing and The River Outfitters to offer services and recreational activities to all residents and visitors alike. Medalie Park and the TC Tritons also received grant money for touchless restrooms to be installed in the Medalie Park restrooms in summer 2022.

KEYSTONE SOCCER COMPLEX New improvements are coming to Keystone. Traverse Bay Area Youth Soccer had been working with GTC Road Commission and MDOT to come up with solutions as well as improvements to the current parking and accessibility issues at Keystone Soccer Complex. A solution, likely a round-about at Cass and Keystone Roads, will ease the challenges the soccer complex faces when large events take place.

CIVIC CENTER PARK Grand Traverse County Parks and Recreation entered into an initial 15-year lease agreement with Norte on the Grand Traverse Bike Education Center, which will be located on two acres of land in the southeast corner of the Civic Center Park. Many GTCPR partners including YMCA, Norte, and Parallel 45 Theater offered outdoor events and educational programs to keep the Civic Center busy.

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Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting


Lean And Green Pacemaker Award 2021



Municipal Excellence Award 2021



The Grand Traverse County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority provided grant funding for environmental work related to the soil and groundwater at this site. EAST BAY TOWNSHIP PFAS CONTAMINATION


The Grand Traverse County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority provided a grant to be used by East Bay Township to switch homeowners from PFAS contaminated wells to safe and clean municipal water. AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN

$9,000,000 In July of 2021 the United States Department of Treasury sent to Grand Traverse County its first installment of the approximate $18.2 million in American Rescue Plan Funds.

COUNTY $100,230 in Total PARKS Total Grants received for the improvement of the Grand Traverse County parks. $15,000 $10,000 GRANTS $2,780 From the TC Tritons

From the Art and Mary Schmuckal Family Foundation

From the Rotary Charities Seed Grant




From the Traverse City Track Club

The GTB 2% Grant for the Civic Center Field Safety

The GTB 2% Grant for Civic Center Tree Garden Development


INMATE TRACKING SYSTEM Grand Traverse County Jail implemented a new inmate tracking system (RFID). This system allows the County Jail to collect, store, track, and measure data, which will improve overall efficiency, communication, and operational procedures. Officers will be able to gather detailed activity data that will eliminate paper logs or perform computer data entry. The system will allow officers to collect and document observation data in real-time during cell checks, security checks, inmate movements, headcounts, medication distribution, mealtime, and more. Not only will this system promote quality and consistency it will also ensure procedural benchmarks are being met.

NEW CITATION SOFTWARE The Sheriff's Office had a new citation software program approved for 2022. This software has minimal disruption and quick turnaround. This software is trusted by Michigan State Police as well as the 86th District Court Magistrate and both have found this system to be seamless with minimal issues.

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BODY-WORN CAMERAS The BOC appropriated $84,750.67 for the purchase of body-worn cameras to be utilized by the Sheriff’s Office. Body-worn cameras improve officer safety, enhance evidence quality and availability, reduce civilian complaints, and reduce overall liability to the County.

ONLINE CONSTRUCTION PERMITS EPIC-GT Construction permits are now offered online. An online permitting platform, EPIC-GT gives residents, builders, developers, and others a single portal to apply for permits related to construction such as addressing, building, land use, and soil erosion. Successfully utilized through the Grand Traverse County Construction Code Department and East Bay Township since the fall of 2020, Grand Traverse County plans to improve and expand the project in 2021.

ENTERPRISE RESOURCE PLANNING SOFTWARE Grand Traverse County entered into a 5-year IT investment totaling $3.5 million for a new Enterprise Resource Planning software system through Workday. This system will replace the decades-old AS-400 system. This system will ensure the information used system-wide is normalized and based on common definitions and experiences.

ELECTION SOFTWARE County Clerk has a new election software system. The Clerks office purchased a new election night software reporting program. This software allows easy election night reporting and visualization of graphs for the results. Page 18



OAKLEAF VILLAGE SENIOR LIVING The Board of Commissioners approved an EDC bond initiative that provided funding for a 174-unit senior living facility to be completed in 2024. The project will also include Property Assessment Clean Energy (PACE) financing to enable energy and water-efficient improvements.

COMMONGROUNDS Commongrounds is the first project in Grand Traverse County to get approved for PACE financing. The program is an innovative financing tool that enables energy and water efficiency improvements to the property.

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B O A R D S , &



Board of Canvassers Bay Area Transporation Authority Board of Public Works Brownfield Redevelopment Authority Building Authority Building Code Board of Appeals Central Dispatch Policy Board Commission on Aging Advisory Board Community Corrections Advisory Board Economic Development Corporation Farmland & Open Space Preservation Board Hospital Finance Authority Health & Human Services Board Land Bank Authority Northern Lakes Community Mental Health Board Northern Michigan Regional Entity Northwest Regional Airport Authority Parks & Recreation Commission Road Commission Traverse Area District Library Board Veterans Affairs Administrative Committee

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Grand Traverse County 400 Boardman Avenue Traverse City, MI 49684 gtcountymi.gov/















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