First quarter budget report: Washtenaw County's carryover surplus dwindling by $1.6 million
Washtenaw County Administrator Verna McDaniel asked the Board of Commissioners to “stay the course” when it came to conservative spending in the 2012 fiscal year, after a first quarter budget report given Wednesday night showed the county could be ending this year with about $1.6 million less than planned to carry over into 2013.
A number of budget amendments are threatening to drag down the county’s year-end surplus -- including the board's decisions to pay $165,000 for animal control services for an additional year and to pay $1.4 million to consolidate the city of Ann Arbor’s dispatch with the county service.
When the county board approved the 2012 budget in November, commissioners were planning on ending 2012 with a $1,889,383 surplus.
With the amendments, the county could now be ending the year with a carryover fund balance of $272,238 in the “worst case scenario,” said Tina Gavalier, the county’s financial analyst.
- View the 2012 first quarter budget outlook.
Currently, the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office has the largest projected departmental shortfall at $669,000 -- mainly due to overtime and part time hours logged in the interim period before the dispatch services consolidate and positions vacated by retirements can be filled, Gavalier said.
‘There’s an aggressive hiring process going on right now,” McDaniel said of the status of the consolidation.
Gavalier reminded the board that the county’s budget is balanced and is in compliance with the state statutes.
The year-end projections will be more concrete in August during the second-quarter budget report when, Gavalier said, savings from changes to how much some employees pay for their medical benefits will be included in the figures.
The 2012 tax rate for the county’s general operating millage will remain on par with the 2011 rate of 4.89 mills, which commissioners unanimously approved Wednesday night in a 9-0 vote. Commissioners Conan Smith and Rolland Sizemore Jr. were absent.
That portion of the county tax will now be levied in July as opposed to December, after the state moved up the date for collection.
The original millage was 5.5 mills.
Due to the Headlee rollback factor - part of the 1978 Headlee Amendment to Michigan’s tax code - it reduces a maximum authorized millage when the tax base increases faster than inflation.
The amendment itself established a maximum allowable millage rate for local governments.
To return to the 5.5 mills rate for the county general operating millage, the issue would have to go before the voters.