2013 County Budget Gets Initial OK

At their Nov. 7 meeting, Washtenaw County commissioners gave initial approval to a 2013 general fund budget of $102.84 million, with a net increase of one full-time position. A final vote and public hearing on the 2013 budget will be held on Dec. 5 – the board’s last meeting of 2012. [.pdf of proposed 2013 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. So on Nov. 7, commissioners voted on 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 current proposal.

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 budget 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 proposed 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.

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]