232As county leaders digest the budget vetoes from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the fiscal implications only keep growing for county governments and the residents they serve.

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%
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
Dickinson $584,750 N/A
St. Clair $555,965 N/A
Branch $148,904 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.

In an unprecedented move, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday issued 147 line-item vetoes in the FY20 budget, affecting more than $947 million in state spending. Although the 2.3 percent increase (about $5 million) for county revenue sharing evaded the vetoes, other line items for specific programs and services provided by counties were hit, stripping away about $60 million in funding for county programs.

“While we see that counties were collateral damage in a fight between the governor and the Legislature, there’s no way to sugarcoat what $60 million in cuts mean to our members,” said Stephan Currie, MAC executive director. “These are significant, troubling reductions. We plan to make a vigorous case to both sides that these results need to be reversed as quickly as possible with a supplemental appropriations bill.”

Among the reductions to county services affected by Whitmer’s moves are:

  • $27 million taken from the PILT (payments in lieu of taxes) program that counties rely on to be compensated for public lands that do not pay taxes (49.5 percent of all land in Crawford County, for example, is owned by the state)
  • $14.9 million taken from the state’s program to reimburse county jails for housing state inmates
  • $13 million taken from funds to aid sheriffs in providing road patrols around their counties
  • $4 million taken from funding to counties under the Child Care Fund, which covers Michigan’s foster care system
  • $4 million taken from grants meant for county services to veterans
  • $2.7 million taken from reimbursements for court-appointed guardians
  • $1 million taken from grants meant for county fairs and other exhibitions

Learn more about the situation by listening to a new episode of MAC’s Podcast 83.

Despite falling arrests, particularly among young people, tens of thousands of people in Michigan are still arrested for low-level charges like failure to appear in court, marijuana possession and shoplifting, the Michigan Jail and Pretrial Detention Task Force was told by researchers during the task force’s meeting in Grand Rapids on Sept. 20.

A team from PEW Trusts gave the task force a wide-ranging presentation on the trends and challenges in dealing with jail populations. The task force, a joint effort of the state and counties, was created by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer this spring.

Other points made by Pew during its report:

  • People are also going to jail in very large numbers for administrative rule-breaking like driving without a valid license and violating probation conditions. 
  • Officers issue fewer citations in lieu of arrest than they have in past years.  Overall, arrests far outnumber citations, even for low-level crimes.
  • Short jail stays disrupt hundreds of thousands of lives, but Michigan’s high jail populations are driven by relatively few people who stay in jail longer than a month. 

Panel members, including Kent County Commissioner Jim Talen and Alpena County Commissioner Bill Peterson, also received a briefing from Wayne State University on mental illness and substance abuse in Michigan jails.

The team, led by Sheryl Kubiak of the Wayne State Center for Behavioral Health and Justice, said that 23 percent of jail inmates exhibited serious mental illness (SMI), but with rates varying notably by the size of the county. In rural counties, for example, 34 percent were identified with SMI.

Also, inmates with SMI had average jail stays twice as long as those without SMI, when adjusting for criminal offense. Longer stays, of course, mean more strains on limited county budgets which must support jail operations.

“Identifying who is going to jail, for how long and why, is critical for the Task Force so they can fully understand the scope of our jail population and create recommendations that may result in savings for county budgets, while ensuring the public safety of our communities,” said Stephan Currie, MAC’s executive director.

The task force meets next on Oct. 18 in Detroit. Livestreaming will be available. Anyone is encouraged to connect with the Task Force in various ways:

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