By JIM ANDERSON
IRON MOUNTAIN - Dickinson County's 2013 budget - totaling $8.79 million - is down 0.4 percent from 2012.
The county board will hold a public hearing on the spending plan at 6:30 p.m. Monday in the circuit courtroom of the courthouse.
The operating millage for the budget remains at 6.1203 mills, the same as the past eight years. "Essentially, revenues are flat," said Kay Pascoe, county controller.
While all essential county government services will be maintained, there are some staffing reductions, Pascoe said. They include:
- Reducing the position of animal control officer from full-time to part-time.
- Continuing to use part-time personnel for some sheriff's department openings.
- Reducing hours for part-time staff in the prosecutor's office.
- Sharply reducing summer staffing levels in the county parks system.
The budget provides $68,340 for the Michigan State University-Extension, a reduction of nearly $42,500 from 2012. The county's clerical support for the Extension will remain at full-time until Jan. 31, 2013, and then go to part-time.
The plan calls for relocating the Extension office from the Northern Lights YMCA in Iron Mountain (former Crystal Lake Community Center) to a space in the Lofholm building in Norway. The 2013 MSU-Extension spending includes a $30,000 contract payment to continue 4-H services. Under the agreement, Dickinson County is sharing a 4-H coordinator with Iron County.
The county needs to replace and upgrade its 911 dispatch equipment at an estimated cost of $360,000, but there is no money for this in the 2013 budget. County voters will be asked Feb. 28 to approve a three-year levy of 0.4 mills to operate and equip the Enhanced 911 system.
The proposed levy - which was defeated in the Nov. 6 general election - would generate an estimated $375,000 in the first year.
The county's general fund allocation for Enhanced 911 services in 2013 is $265,867. That funding is needed because surcharges on phone lines pay less than half the operational costs for 911, Pascoe said.
The referendum for Enhanced 911 services won't directly impact the 2013 budget. Even if approved, revenues from the levy wouldn't be available until 2014.
Some other budget highlights:
- Wages and benefits will comprise about 65 percent of the budget. Under labor contracts with the county's collective bargaining units, employees will see wage increases of about 2 percent in 2013 but will see their share of health insurance costs rise to 15 percent, up from the current 10 percent.
- There is no planned reduction in the county's fund balance to support expenditures. The budget surplus, or fund balance, at the end of 2012 is projected at slightly less than $1.34 million. That compares to $1.42 million at the end of 2011.
- Appropriation requests from county departments and agencies that receive county funding totaled $9.08 million. Those requests were reduced by $293,611 to the level of expected revenues.
- Revenues from prisoners' board and payments from the state for housing diverted felons are listed at $30,000 in 2013, down from the $75,000 budgeted in 2012. Actual revenues haven fallen because of changes in state guidelines, Pascoe said. The county qualifies for fewer reimbursements for housing certain inmates.
- The county anticipates $342,539 in total state shared revenues in its first year coming back into the revenue sharing program. Last year, the county took its final payment of about $250,000 from the Revenue Sharing Reserve Account. That account, now depleted, was formed under 2004 legislation that advanced the collection of county property taxes from winter to summer.
- The appropriation to the public improvement fund is $15,500. That money will be set aside as a potential match for a Michigan Department of Natural Resources grant for county parks improvements. Applications are due in April and any potential project is unlikely to occur before 2014. The initial recommendation was to set aside $45,000 for a grant match, but nearly $30,000 was diverted to maintain MSU-Extension clerical support. If the grant application is successful, additional money will be needed in 2014.
- The general fund allocation for county parks is $130,000, down from $140,000 in 2012. The spending includes $2,500 each for milfoil control at Lake Antoine, Sawyer Lake and the Hamilton Chain of Lakes - all part of the county parks system.
- The allocation for the YMCA building is $23,600, down from $25,000 this year and $82,045 in 2011.
- The Dickinson County Road Commission will receive no appropriation. Last year, the county allocated $40,000 to ensure an adequate road salt supply.
- The allocation for the Probate Child Care Fund is $150,000, the same as currently. The fund is used, in part, to pay the county's obligations for housing juvenile offenders at out-of-county institutions.
- Airport Fund spending is $200,00, an increase of $25,000 from this year.
- Northpointe Behavioral Health Services will receive $99,630, the same as this year; Dickinson County Economic Development Alliance will receive $4,000, a reduction of $2,000; Dickinson Humane Society will receive $25,000, the same as in 2012.
- Allocations in the Recreation and Culture category include $1,500 for the Menominee Range Historical Foundation; $4,000 for the Dickinson Area Band; $1,000 for the Menghini Historical Museum; and $250 for the Upper Peninsula Travel and Recreation Association. There is no appropriation planned for the Kiwanis Ski Club.
- The outlay for capital projects is $65,421, mainly for computer needs and sheriff's department vehicles.
Jim Anderson's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.