County Budget at 13.9M

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The Charlevoix County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the 2013 budget of $13,967,503.
By: Benjamin J. Gohs, News Editor
(231) 222-2119 
The Charlevoix County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the 2013 budget of $13,967,503.
During the Wednesday Sept. 26 budget hearing audience member John Haggard asked how much money the county has that it is not using.
“I’m wondering if it wouldn’t be possible that, rather than levying all the millage that was voted by the voters of this county, to give that money back by reducing the millage, utilizing our excess funds to balance your budget,” he said.
Charlevoix County Fiscal Officer Cherie Browe said as of the most recent audit the county had roughly $7 million of useable general funds, of which $2 million has been lent for local road improvements; nearly a quarter of a million has been allocated for a new fire alarm system; nearly $650,000 has been allocated to balance the budget.
“I don’t have all the numbers in yet to see where the budget is laying because we still have outstanding bills and receivables,” she said. “But, we do not have the kind of money that is just sitting here.”
Also during the public hearing it was discovered that the recently approved increase in the senior millage is apparently more than the Charlevoix County Commission On Aging (COA) will need to operate.
Charlevoix County Commissioner Chris Christensen told the board that the COA was considering levying .60 mils instead of the voter approved .65 this past August.
“Jack went over some of the costs and some of the details because some of the projected costs were lower than anticipated and some of the situations he thought he was facing—I hate to say they weren’t as dire but they were not as severe as probably once predicted by some of the outside forces,” Christensen said.
COA Director Jack Messer said he set out to work through a budget deficit at the COA while working to create a sustainable model for services.
Messer said they had originally planned to have nine months worth of expenses saved for an emergency.
Messer said the fee-based structure for services appears to be working.
“The budget that I presented to you for the upcoming year is actually smaller than the 2012 budget. That’s because we’ve been working hard with our leases and all of the other pieces that have come together for us,” he said.
Messer said, while the full millage amount isn’t needed this year, eventually it will be needed as more seniors retire and request more services.
“We will end the year still with nine months of fund balance … and we will continue to provide all the services we do today,” he said.
Charlevoix County Commissioner Rich Gillespie said he thinks it is a good plan.
The millage decrease will save taxpayers nearly $100,000.
Current county millages include the general fund allocation of 4.7 mils, transit 0.25 mils, Grandvue Operating 0.75 mils, senior citizens 0.6, recycling 0.15 and road improvement 1 for a total of 7 mils.
Some of the larger budgeted amounts include the following:
  • Sheriff’s office – $1,973,468
  • Child care fund – $600,000
  • District health – $229,331
  • Charlevoix County Jail – $1,983,034
  • Building inspection – $434,629
  • Insurance and bonds – $827,000

County commissioner per diems remain at $50 with board members being paid $75 if a meeting lasts more than four hours.

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