Great News-the pressure is working!
[UPDATE-Never mind-they changed their minds]
My friends at the argus press reported that:
During a budget work session Monday, the Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners moved money among line items within its 2015 budget proposal in an attempt to reduce the impact of cuts that have been projected to the Shiawassee County Sheriff’s Office.
The county’s initial $15.1 million draft budget presented last month slashed the sheriff’s office budget by $1.5 million, but commissioners Monday decided to take more money out of their already depleted fund balance and delinquent tax fund, and use potential savings in other areas that could free up as much as $780,000 to go back into the sheriff’s budget.
“This is called moving the chairs on the Titanic,” Commissioner John Plowman said, cautioning that the moves are only temporary fixes. “We’re moving them from one side to the other, but the Titanic still sinks. Eventually, 2016 will be even tougher.”
My question would be how come most of the chairs are still being moved from public safety? I’m looking forward to seeing the what the proposed budget actually looks like if the commission shares it at the Thursday meeting.
The changes proposed Monday will increase expenditures to $15.6 million for 2015. The increase comes from taking an additional $300,000 from the county’s delinquent tax revolving fund (the original draft budget was already using $451,000 from the fund) and $200,000 from the county’s fund balance.
Here’s History of the Fund Balance. It is our County’s savings account. When it’s empty bad things happen.
Treasurer Tom Dwyer, who has routinely cautioned commissioners against taking too much money from the delinquent tax revolving fund, said Monday that he could “live with” them taking $751,000 from the fund in 2015, but said that much will not be available in future years.
Here’s the History of the Delinquent Tax Revolving Fund looks like. Check it out for yourself. It averages $765,000/year in profit.
“Everybody thinks that there is $8.5 million sitting in the delinquent tax fund,” Dwyer said. “As of Dec. 31, 2013, that was what was available in the delinquent tax fund. But what you need to keep in mind, in May we pay out the delinquent tax funds to all the different units. … All those taxes that are turned over delinquent to us are paid out to those local entities. The last two years it’s been about $4,166,000 each year. That comes out of that money.”
The other $4.3 million, he said, is needed for cash flow purposes while the county waits for taxes to come in.
A source who is familiar with the county government tells me that what Mr. Dwyer is trying to say here is that we must keep around 4.3 million dollars in the fund so that we don’t have to borrow money to cover the time period between when accounts go to collections and when we collect the money.
“Usually in June and July the county’s general fund balance is in a negative figure. Sometimes it’s up in the $3.5 to $4 million range. Those funds that are in that delinquent tax fund are available so we have a positive figure in our pool of cash. If those funds are not available, you’ve got problems,” Dwyer warned.
Plowman also said the county budgeted for an increase in employee health insurance costs from Blue Cross Blue Shield, but he was surprised to learn recently that costs are actually expected to decrease slightly, resulting in $130,000 in savings.
Commissioners hope to save an additional $100,000 next year after making the first step in increasing employee pension contributions. Another $50,000 was realized from “miscellaneous other savings.”
Even with the changes, the sheriff’s office will still see $720,000 in cuts from its $6.4 million 2014 budget.
Just to be clear, this is still a huge cut directed targeting public safety. We just went from a 23% cut down to a 12.5% cut. But this is while other departments receive not more than 5% cuts. Unless your counting “Recs and culture” that didn’t receive a true “cut”, they just didn’t budget to do a big project this year. So again, why the targeted attacks against public safety?
“I don’t wish to stand here in front of you and look a gift horse in the mouth, but I don’t want anyone to walk out of here this evening after this discussion with false impressions of what $780,000 is going to do for the sheriff’s office budget,” Undersheriff Doug Powell told commissioners during the county’s Finance and Administration Committee meeting later in the day.
“Will it restore some jobs? Yes it will. But I don’t want anyone to walk out of here tonight thinking this is going to restore the current road patrol as it currently exists today because it will not — $1.5 million would do that. … $780,000 back into our budget is less than adequate and below serviceable levels for what this county deserves and needs.”
I really need to know how many jobs that this will be. My estimate would be 7-8 by the time your factor in equipment costs, but I’m not sure.
Commissioner Bob McLaren voted against advancing the new budget during Monday’s meeting, stating that he was vehemently against taking money from the county’s fund balance, which is projected to be down to about $945,000 — or about 6 percent of the county’s expenditures — at the end of this year. Taking another $200,000 would bring it down to about 4 percent, he said. Financial officials recommend a fund balance of 15 to 20 percent of a municipality’s expenditures.
The Governor says “If you haven’t felt it yet you will”. If he’s right, our property values/tax revenues should start climbing any day now. And for the record, I’m vehemently against paying for the pensions of part elected officials. According to a recent Argus Press article, so are a vast majority of Shiawassee County Residents.
“If we don’t meet a bill, how long does it take Gov. (Rick) Snyder to assign someone to handle our job because we failed to make a payment,” McLaren said. “We are running awful close. It’s time we quit.”
Great question Mr. McLaren, but if you don’t adequately fund public safety we’re going to take care of that for you anyway.
The county’s 2014 budget was balanced at $16.8 million, but officials pulled $1.2 million from the delinquent tax fund and another $250,000 from the fund balance, which commissioners previously said was not available for 2015. Plowman said that combined with new rules that require the county to make an additional $500,000 payment toward pension liabilities and other increases in overhead, the had a $2.163 million deficit to make up in 2015.
Please prove it. Release the 2014 Amended budget to the public as requested by me and many others.
A public hearing is set for 4 p.m. Thursday, after which the board will vote on the budget.
Ladies and Gentlemen-get the word out-fill the Surbeck building on 12/11 @ 4PM!
Meanwhile, celebrate small victories because the pressure we’re putting on the commission will brighten the holidays for 7-8 individuals who put their lives on the line to keep us save everyday.