Presque Isle board approves budget for 2014-15

ROGERS CITY – Presque Isle County is set to spend slightly less than it takes in for the 2014-15 fiscal year.

The board of commissioners approved a budget Wednesday with a predicted $5,191,195.18 in revenues and $5,190,019.50 in expenditures. That leaves a balance of $1,175.68, and while it’s a tight budget Chairman Carl Altman said the county’s finances are stabilizing.

After hearing no comments from the public, the board commended county Treasurer Bridget LaLonde and others who put a lot of work into creating the budget. County Clerk Ann Marie Main told commissioners that for the ending budget year the county is almost squarely on target for expenses and revenues. That’s despite a costly animal seizure for which the accused is still in court.

“That’s saying a lot,” Commissioner Mike Darga said. “It’s a credit to the departments. We’ve got to, we just have to put the hammer down, otherwise we’ll be broke.”

Major expenses for the coming budget year include $2,532,922.70 for general government, $1,256,711.80 for public safety, $669,795 for health insurance and $330,000 for retirement, according to the budget.

Overall, Altman said he believes the county’s finances are stable. He’s heard some news from Lansing lawmakers about the future of revenue sharing, and while any future payments from the state might not be as much as originally hoped, any amount helps. That’s especially true as the county will exhaust its Revenue Sharing Reserve Fund this coming budget year.

The county is budgeting some funds to start moving its sheriff’s department over to 800-megahertz radios, Altman said. Past considerations for doing so focused on the radios as a way to fix coverage gaps in the current radio dispatch system.

“We’re not going to be able to finance it to the full extent, we may have to, we’re going to get in on the finance part of it where we do it over seven years,” he said. “We did cut a vehicle out of the sheriff’s budget, but otherwise any projects, there’s really nothing on the horizon as far as things we’re going to start.”

Raises for county employees are built in to the budget and already were arrived at beforehand, Altman said. For elected and appointed officials, they’re decided on at the end of the year.

Commissioners also approved special revenue and enterprise funds for the county, including budgets for parks and recreation, the county’s 911 fund, building and zoning and other services paid for with restricted funds. Main said some accounts show more expenditures than revenues because existing balances will be spent to some degree.

In other business:

  • commissioners formalized an agreement between Presque Isle and Montmorency counties where Presque Isle County Housing Administrator Michelle LaBar will administer Michigan State Housing Development Authority programs and loans for both counties. The agreement is based on one between Arenac and Iosco counties, and still must be approved by Montmorency County commissioners. Altman said they’ve voiced their support for the idea thus far.
  • commissioners approved designating Millersburg, Onaway and Rogers City as targeted communities for MSHDA program grants. LaBar said the authority has changed the way housing administrators can spend grant money, and she now must spend half on targeted communities and the other half county-wide. She showed them a study showing the three communities, plus Posen, met the relative housing density, median home value, median gross rent and median gross rent as a percentage of gross income. However, no Posen homeowner has ever participated in a county allocation project. The designations are for the current grant, LaBar said, and board members can choose other qualifying communities in the future.

Drain Commissioner Charlie Lyon will attend the Michigan Association of County Drain Commissioners summer conference at Crystal Mountain. Commissioners said he’d have to cover any costs above what the county typically covers for such conferences.

Prosecutor Richard Steiger informed commissioners that Chris Gerke, who in April pleaded guilty to contractor fraud relating to a 2012 project to create a new county annex building, has paid $35,000 in restitution. Main said the money will go into the county’s courthouse construction fund.

commissioners approved a $3,680 voucher for a court-appointed attorney.

Jordan Travis can be reached via email at jtravis@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5688. Follow Jordan on Twitter @jt_alpenanews. Read his blog, A Snowball’s Chance, at www.thealpenanews.com.