County Board Gets Budget Update

A two-year budget deficit for Washtenaw County in 2012 and 2013 – originally projected to reach nearly $21 million – is now closer to $17.5 million, according to an update given by county administrator Verna McDaniel at the May 4, 2011 meeting of the Washtenaw County board of commissioners. McDaniel’s presentation is an update of a State of the County report she delivered at the board’s Jan. 19, 2011 meeting. The staff and board are developing a budget for the coming two years, which the board will need to approve before the end of 2011.

The board also got an update on the status of the 2011 budget from Tina Gavalier, the county’s finance analyst. Projections for the $98.735 million general fund budget assume that the county will use $5.3 million of its fund balance, as planned. The county was also helped by better-than-expected property tax revenue in 2011 – about $3.5 million more than anticipated, based on the recent equalization report. [See Chronicle coverage: "Washtenaw County's Taxable Value Falls"] Because of that, the county finance staff is projecting a $1.67 million surplus this year. Without the use of the $5.3 million fund balance, however, the county would be facing a $3.6 million deficit in 2011.

Highlights of the 2011 budget include: a projected revenue surplus of $240,000 from the register of deeds office, due to fees and transfers tax starting to trend higher; a projected shortfall of $326,000 from the sheriff’s office, due to higher part-time and overtime costs, and the fact that jail medical/food expenses weren’t reduced to the amount budgeted; and a projected $250,000 shortfall from the district court. The board will receive another 2011 budget update in August.

This brief was filed from the boardroom in the Washtenaw County administration building, 220 N. Main St., Ann Arbor. A more detailed report will follow: [link]