As county leaders digest the budget vetoes from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the fiscal implications only keep growing for county governments and the residents they serve.

Crawford: ‘Swamp tax’ is big hit to tight budget

For Crawford County, the cuts mean the county could lose $547,405, which is nine percent of the county’s $5.6 million budget.

“That includes non-payment of $338,500 in swamp taxes from the state, which are paid through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The tax has been collected since 1934 after lumber barons left land after the trees were harvested and it reverted back to the state for non-payment of taxes.”

Jackson: Secondary Road Patrol looms large

“In Jackson County, board vice chairman David Elwell, a Republican, said Whitmer’s vetoes will cost the county more than $800,000 in cuts to secondary road patrol and other programs, if they remain in place until the start of the county’s fiscal year on Jan. 1.”

No night patrols in Osceola?

Vetoes will cut $190,000 in revenue, or 2 percent of General Fund revenue in a county already addressing a $1.3 million budget shortfall.

“We may lose or reassign a deputy with the loss of the secondary road patrol money. Our Sheriff’s Department currently provides the only 24-hour road patrol, as the cities and State Police do not have night shift coverage. The loss or reassignment of a deputy affects our whole county’s law enforcement coverage and could make our citizens more vulnerable to crime.

“The state encouraged us through veterans grants to create and staff departments to assist our veterans. If we lose the grant funding for these positions, 1 full-time equivalent would need to be reduced in the department that only has 1.85 FTEs. They will not be able to provide services and assist veterans utilizing the equipment and resources we have obtained through the grant funding.”

Roscommon’s deficit battle just got worse

“Just recently, officials in Roscommon County in northern Michigan were finalizing the 2020 budget and worrying over about how to erase a projected $200,000 deficit,” the Detroit Free Press reported Sunday.

“Now Roscommon, which has 24,000 residents and a budget of just over $9 million, is looking at an $800,000 shortfall. ‘There is definitely going to be a reduction in staff, if this thing sticks,’ Robert Schneider, chairman of the county board of commissioners, said Friday. Schneider, a Democrat and retired supermarket manager who is in his 13th year on the county board, said the only saving grace for Roscommon is that, unlike many other counties, its fiscal year does not start until Jan. 1.”

Patrol gains on brink of being lost in Branch

“Branch County Sheriff John Pollack warned if Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Legislature do not put back vetoed funds for road patrols, he must cut back patrol services to weekdays and to one eight-hour daytime shift,” reported The Daily Reporter. “The move would require layoff of a deputy. The county added a deputy last year in the budget. The sheriff received about $60,000 for the secondary patrol deputy each year from the state grants. It again had been approved for the 2019-2020 fiscal year from the state before the veto. The additional deputies in the last two years allow for extended hours and weekend coverage by deputies. Pollack said there are funds in the 2019 county budget to keep the deputy until the new county budget begins in January.”

Isabella sheriff looking at $200,000 hole

“While the talk in Lansing is that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s line-item vetoes whacked the Pure Michigan tourism campaign, closer to home they had Sheriff Michael Main looking at a $200,000 hole they suddenly opened in his budget,” reports The Morning Sun.

Running estimates on veto effects

Lost funding estimates provided to MAC by county officials include:

County Funding Lost Pct. of Budget
Ontonagon $238,000 6%
Crawford $547,405 9.1%
Roscommon $728,064 6.9%
Dickinson $584,750 6%
Missaukee $260,279 5.2%
Otsego $369,000 5%
Clare $394,034 3%
St. Joseph $376,314 2.5%
Gratiot $311,000 2.3%
Osceola $190,000 2%
Houghton $226,500 1.8%
Mason $243,000 1.7%
Allegan $722,000 2.1%
Monroe $701,417 1.5%
Wexford $232,910 1.4%
Mecosta $169,120 1.3%
Sanilac $136,000 1%

 

Ionia $638,388 N/A
Jackson $861,500 N/A
Ingham up to $825,000 N/A
Menominee $369,000 N/A
Marquette $817,000 N/A
Eaton $600,000 N/A
Emmet $262,190 N/A
Newaygo $199,617 N/A
Presque Isle $207,184 N/A
Midland $686,365 N/A
Tuscola $468,401 N/A
Kalamazoo $1,168,000 N/A
Lapeer $212,874 N/A
Kent $1,745,522 N/A
Calhoun $1,000,000 N/A
Cheboygan $576,357 N/A
Clinton $440,000 N/A
Delta $318,000 N/A
Gogebic $108,438 N/A
Grand Traverse $322,420 N/A
Lenawee $224,000 N/A
Muskegon $641,735 N/A
Van Buren $572,000 N/A
Schoolcraft $644,000 N/A
Mackinac $511,136 N/A
Keweenaw $116,777 N/A
Baraga $746,724 N/A
St. Clair $555,965 N/A
Branch $148,904 N/A
Iron $297,000 N/A
Alger $594,625 N/A
Chippewa $220,473 N/A
Luce $676,000 N/A

 

“A mess”; “ugly” “lead balloon”; “unprecedented”; “big trouble.” Those words, and many more, were used today (Oct. 1) by the Podcast 83 team as they discussed the effects on Michigan counties in Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s flurry of line-item vetoes to the 2020 state budget.

Executive Director Stephan Currie, Deena Bosworth and Meghann Keit went over the $60 million in county funding effects that were included in Whitmer’s decision this week.

In brighter county news, Bosworth details upcoming testimony and prospects for new legislation that would convert Michigan’s 2-year county commissioner terms to 4 years.

All this and more on the newest episode of Podcast 83.

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LANSING, MICH. – A state panel charged with recommending reforms to Michigan’s trial court system issued an interim report today with five proposals that offer promise for solutions to this longstanding challenge, but counties see much work remains in Lansing on this issue. The Trial Court Funding Commission released its work early due to pending litigation (People v. Cameron) at the Michigan Supreme Court that could affect the current funding streams for trial courts.

“These recommendations are a solid beginning on this vital issue. MAC is grateful for the work of Monroe County Administrator Michael Bosanac and his colleagues on the commission,” said Stephan Currie, executive director of the Michigan Association of Counties (MAC). “However, the central challenge remains – finding a stable, comprehensive funding system for our courts. With the potential effects of a Cameron decision looming, counties are eager to get to work with lawmakers on a permanent funding fix.” The commission’s interim report highlights five recommendations:

· Establish a stable court funding system

· Provide all court technology needs

· Establish uniform assessments and centralized collections

· Move toward a uniform employment system

· Establish a transition plan for a new court funding model to be established by the Legislature

Trial courts are the largest unfunded mandate on county governments in Michigan, with local funding accounting for nearly half the $1.14 billion to $1.44 billion in estimated costs. The commission was formed by the Legislature in response to People v. Cunningham, a Michigan Supreme Court decision that determined state law does not provide trial courts with independent authority to impose any court cost on a convicted defendant. The commission will continue to meet until its statutory expiration of Sept. 28, 2019.

Director of Governmental Affairs Deena Bosworth told the House Local Government Committee on Feb. 6 that financial trends continue to run against county governments that are trying to deliver vital local services.

During her presentation, Bosworth noted that counties have not recovered from the Great Recession of the last decade due to the constraints on growth in taxable values on property. Counties rely heavily on the property tax to fund local services, unlike the state government, which has a much more diversified revenue base, Bosworth noted.

Bosworth was among representatives of local government groups to testify before the House panel on the current situation in local services and what the state can and should do to aid their local counterparts.

See Bosworth’s testimony here, starting at the 55:30 mark.

For a complete look at MAC’s 2019 legislative priorities, click here.