By Graham Sturgeon, staff writer

The Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners will vote during the 4 p.m. Oct. 21 meeting to approve the county’s proposed 2016 budget. There was not a quorum Oct. 15 for the board, so the Oct. 21 meeting was set. The board expects to have a balanced budget with modest revenue growth (1.3 percent). Board Chair Hartmann Aue noted in his Budget Message that “only one” department, that of the Emergency Management department, will be reduced this year due to a decrease in grant funding.

The county’s proposed General Fund Budget is $15,372,654 for 2016, with $50,424 salaries designated for the County Clerk, Drain Commissioner, Register of Deeds and the Treasurer; $76,846 for the Sheriff; $83,846 for the Prosecutor; and $6,065 for each County Commissioner. The county will transfer $560,808 from the Delinquent Tax Revolving Fund, which is just slightly more than in 2015.

Some of the more notable department budgets include the Sheriff’s Office, which was allotted $2,076,616 and the Sheriff’s Secondary Road Patrol, which will receive $112,440. The ever-important court system will receive $3,455,745 in 2016, with Circuit Court at $567,657 and 66th District Court receiving $1,073,797. Emergency Manager Richard Warner’s hours were cut to 29 per week. Warner expressed his displeasure with the cut to his position during the Wednesday Committee of the Whole meeting, but Chairman Aue said the county can only pay what it receives for the “grant-funded” department.

“I was hoping you would have a little more discussion on the budget, specifically my department,” said Emergency Manager Warner during the Wednesday meeting. “My department is a 24/7 department. I’m always available. With this budget, my department will be cut from 165 hours per week to 29 hours per week. There are a lot of things that aren’t going to get done and there will be a lot of grant funds that we aren’t going to get. I just want everyone to know that there are consequences to our decisions.”

Chairman Aue responded to the somewhat emotional Warner by saying that “this wasn’t done willy-nilly. We looked at historical numbers from 2009 up until the present time, and previous director hours were in the 1,600 to 1,800 range. This would put Rich around 1,500 hours. This is a grant-funded position and when grant funds dry up, it changes the scope of what you can do.”

On a positive note, the county stands to save roughly $20,000 by employing the Shiawassee Regional Educational Service District (SRESD) Information Technology (IT) for a cost of just over $96,000 per year. The county was planning to hire one full-time and two part-time employees to replace departed IT Director Chris Newell, which could have cost the county $116,000. The board has been delighted by the service the SRESD has provided since taking over in September, though they acknowledge they are still in the “honeymoon period.”

Shiawassee County Commissioners to Approve 2016 Budget was last modified: October 19th, 2015 by Karen Elford