County Board Gives Final OK to 2013 Budget

Washtenaw County’s 2013 general fund budget of $102.84 million, with a net increase of one full-time position, was given final approval at the Dec. 5, 2012 county board of commissioners meeting. The approval came after a public hearing at the same meeting. [.pdf of 2013 Washtenaw County budget]

The county works on a two-year budget planning cycle. In late 2011, commissioners set the budget for 2012 and 2013. However, state law mandates that the board must approve the budget annually. At its Nov. 7 meeting, commissioners gave initial approval to a budget “reaffirmation” for 2013, including several proposed adjustments. The original 2013 budget proposed a year ago was for general fund revenues and expenses of $97.066 million – $5.774 million less than the budget that was ultimately approved this month.

Property taxes typically account for about 63% of revenues, and the general fund budget is based on an operating millage rate of 4.5493 mills. Because property values have not decreased as much as originally anticipated, the county expects about $2.4 million more in property tax revenues for 2013 than it had previously accounted for in the 2013 budget. The 2013 budget now assumes that property tax revenues will be 2% lower than in 2012. The 2013 budget includes a planned use of $3.287 million from the fund balance. Of that, about $2 million is estimated to be carried over from a budget surplus in 2012.

The largest expenditures relate to personnel, which accounts for 66% of general fund expenses. The 2013 budget shows a $4.7 million increase in that category, compared to the original 2013 budget that commissioners approved in 2011. According to a staff memo, those additional costs relate to increases in fringe benefits, medical costs, and a higher number retirees than expected. There were 118 retirements in 2011, which added to pension costs.

Thomas Partridge was the only person to speak at a public hearing on the budget. He urged the board to find ways to increase revenues, including asking voters to approve a millage increase.

This brief was filed from the boardroom of the county administration building at 220 N. Main in Ann Arbor. A more detailed report will follow: [link]