Draft 2012-13 County Budget Proposes Cuts

Washtenaw County commissioners have received a recommended budget for 2012-2013, which calls for a total net loss of 32.22 full-time-equivalent jobs. Most are positions that are already vacant or that will be handled through retirements. [.pdf of draft 2012-2013 budget] County administrator Verna McDaniel and the county’s finance staff gave a presentation on the two-year budget at the board’s Sept. 21, 2011 meeting, showing how the administration proposes to balance the budget. Previously, an estimated $17.5 million deficit had been projected for that two-year period.

Board chair Conan Smith characterized the budget as a recommendation “that is ripe for public discussion at this point.” Everything is still on the table, he said. A public hearing on the budget is set for the board’s Oct. 19 meeting. The next working session on the budget is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 22. The board is expected to take up the topic again at its Oct. 5 Ways & Means Committee meeting.

The proposed budget is based on a forecast in general fund revenues of $97,714,410 in 2012 and $96,937,530 in 2013 – down from $101,250,268 this year. The budget includes cutting 28.36 full-time-equivalent jobs, creating 5.5 FTEs, putting 11 FTE positions on hold/vacant status, and removing 1.64 FTEs out of hold/vacant. In addition to the 25.36 jobs that are already vacant, another 14 of the job cuts are expected to be handled mostly through retirements. Currently the county employs 1,369 people.

The biggest cuts are proposed to come from the sheriff’s office in positions represented by the Police Officers Association of Michigan (POAM), with a net loss of 12 jobs, and in positions represented by AFSCME 2733 Unit B, with a net loss of 10 positions.

Earlier this year, McDaniel told commissioners that she hoped to gain $8 million in labor concessions from employees. New labor contracts have now been finalized with 90% of the county’s employees, for a total of $4 million in savings both budget years from changes to compensation and benefits. The board had approved a new contract with its largest labor union – AFSCME Local 2733 – at a special meeting on Sept. 13.

The budget also reflects $4.1 million more in additional revenues from property taxes. Those tax revenues are now projected to be higher than previously estimated. The budget also identifies $8.2 million from organizational and structural changes.

The budget also includes a total of $1,239,859 in cuts to funding for local nonprofits and other agencies. Examples of the most dramatic changes include funding for Huron Valley Humane Society’s contract (from $500,000 in fiscal 2011 to $250,000 in fiscal 2012 and 2013), the Delonis Center homeless shelter (from $160,000 to $25,000), and the Safe House domestic violence shelter (from $96,000 to $48,000).

Items to be cut completely include $125,000 to the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG), $200,000 for the county’s reserve for housing, and $110,000 for a housing contingency fund. Money for the county’s coordinated funding of human services will drop by $128,538 (from $1,015,000 to $886,462). [.pdf chart of nonprofit/agency allocations]

Looking beyond this two-year budget cycle, the report also projects deficits of $11.6 million in 2014 and $14.7 million in 2015.

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]