County budget hearing 9:30 a.m. Wednesday

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A public hearing on proposed operating millages to pay for Charlevoix County’s 2014 estimated budget of $13,794,545 is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday Sept. 11, at 203 Antrim St. in Charlevoix.

A public hearing on proposed operating millages to pay for Charlevoix County’s 2014 estimated budget of $13,794,545 is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday Sept. 11, at 203 Antrim St. in Charlevoix.

The Charlevoix County Board of Commissioners will take public comment on the proposed 7.5 mils—4.7 mils general operating, .25 mils transit, .75 mils Grandvue operating, .65 mils senior citizens, .15 mils recycling, 1 mil road improvement—desired to cover the next year’s operating expenses.

“We are down by about $400,000 in revenue from last year and we are trying to avoid paying from the fund balance so we will have funds necessary for infrastructure projects,” said Charlevoix County Commissioner Chris Christensen (R-District 2).

The decrease in funding was as a direct result from a decrease in property values, which translated into a decrease in taxes collected.

Charlevoix County was able to cover the shortfall by asking its department heads to each cut five percent out of their respective budgets.

“At one point we were poised to tap $650,000 out of the general fund but we went to them (department heads) and said we needed to see if any of them could cut their budget,” Christensen said. “I think the budgeting process has always been transparent but I really appreciate the level of involvement of the department heads this year—I think everybody has gone the extra mile to do the same with less than in years past.”

Christensen said, despite the cuts, taxpayers should see no drop in services.

“We’re very lean with the county at this point and I think that is something we really needed to do—not that we were excessively out of whack but I think we have done a very good job of paring things down,” he said.

“Obviously the employees had to make some concessions in regards to raises and things like that but we’re doing alright.”

Some of the major expenditures in this year’s proposed operating budget include the following:

  • Board of commissioners – $230,500, that’s down by 7.16 percent from last year.
  • Legislative committees – $75,500, that’s a 19.25 percent drop from the previous year’s total.
  • Circuit Court – $196,152
  • District Court – $435,005
  • Friend of the Court – $537,442
  • Probate Court – $655,517, an 11.76 percent savings over the year before.
  • County Clerk – $489,929
  • Data Processing – $353,860, a 10.3 percent decrease over the last year.
  • Equalization/Assessing – $452,087
  • Elections – $117,300, a 27.09 percent increase from 2013.
  • County Telephone – $90,000, a 20 percent increase over the last year.
  • County Postage – $0.00, a 100 percent decrease from the previous year’s expenditures of $10,000.
  • Building & Grounds – $348,561
  • Prosecuting Attorney – $410,578, a 3.72 percent decrease over last year.
  • Sheriff Office – $1,970,109, a 4.25 percent decrease from 2013.
  • GIS Department (maps, etc.) – $118,829, a 21.37 percent increase.
  • Animal Control – $140,875
  • Medical Examiner – $46,424, a 21.52 percent increase over 2013’s figures.
  • Park – $557,687, a 98.75 percent increase from last year.
  • Contingency Fund – $30,000, a 40 percent decrease over last year.
  • Child Care Fund – $500,000, a 16.67 percent decrease from 2013.

Salaries and meeting fees for Charlevoix County elected officials remain stagnant:

  • County Board of Commissioners – $250 per commissioner per month
  • Drain Commissioner – $50
  • Fiscal Officer – $10,400 (annual salary)
  • County Road Commission – $50 (for fewer than four-hour meetings) and $75 for special meetings

The lowest paid county employee earns $10.39 per hour and an employee with 15 years of service at the highest pay scale level would earn $59,918.88 annually.