County Budget Adjustments Get Final OK

Washtenaw County commissioners have given final approval to mid-year budget adjustments and have allocated this year’s higher-than-expected property tax revenues, as well as a $3.9 million surplus from 2013. Action was taken at the county board’s Aug. 6, 2014 meeting, following initial approval on July 9.

The adjustments increased the general fund budget’s expenses and revenues by $720,486 for 2014, $733,233 for 2015, $745,980 for 2016 and $758,727 for 2017. The county operates on a four-year budget, with the fiscal year matching the calendar year.

The adjustments also followed the recommendation of county administrator Verna McDaniel, and set aside the $3,920,818 surplus from 2013 in unearmarked reserves, rather than spending it. The projected year-end 2014 fund balance is $20,638,675. The county board had previously approved a goal of holding a fund balance equal to 20% of its general fund budget. For 2014, the general fund budget is $103,127,202. [.pdf of staff memo and mid-year budget resolution]

In addition, the following mid-year budget adjustments were made to the general fund:

  • Structural adjustments resulting in a $494,677 increase in expenditures for (1) providing employee health care coverage for autism; (2) a consultant to help with the board’s budget priority work, (3) a “local government initiatives” intern; (4) reinstatement of two full-time equivalent positions in the sheriff’s office; and (5) salary adjustments for non-union employees.
  • Non-structural, one-time, adjustments that increased expenditures by $65,000 for homelessness initiatives.

The administration recommended that the remaining $160,809 be held as an undesignated allocation until budget projections improve as new information becomes available. Finance staff gave a second-quarter budget update on Aug. 6, projecting that the county will have a $211,920 general fund surplus at the end of 2014. [.pdf of budget presentation]

When an initial vote was taken on July 9, commissioners Dan Smith (R-District 2) and Conan Smith (D-District 9) had voted against it. Although they supported it on Aug. 6, both raised the same concerns they’ve voiced earlier. Conan Smith said he hoped that when the county achieves its goal of a fund balance equal to 20% of the general fund budget, then any extra surplus would be “put to work in the community.” Dan Smith stressed the importance of setting a budget and sticking to it, with adjustments coming only during the annual budget affirmation process – rather than throughout the year.

This brief was filed from the county administration building at 220 N. Main. in Ann Arbor. A more detailed report will follow.