Panel Pegs Projects

July 8, 2005
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GRAND RAPIDS — The Kent County Finance Committee got its first look recently at the list of recommended projects for the 2006 Capital Improvement Program, and it’s a fairly short list.

Of the $15.1 million worth of requested projects offered by department heads, a seven-member panel suggested that the county only go ahead with nearly $2.9 million worth next year. Of the 62 projects submitted, just 23 were recommended for funding.

The biggest winner was the county’s facilities management department, which had spending for 10 of its 27 projects approved by the panel for 2006. Four involve making improvements to

82 Ionia Ave. NW
, the office building the county recently bought. A total of $600,000 could go into upgrading the building’s security, improving its energy management, assessing the needed structural repairs, and filling in a portion of the areaway.

CountyFacilities Management Director Robert Mihos said he hoped that commissioners would agree to fund all 10 when they vote on CIP spending in September. In all, the panel recommended that $1.4 million of the $2.9 million be spent on facilities management.

But the panel also set aside a big chunk of the department’s requests.

Four Fuller Avenue Campus projects that total $10.8 million were tabled for review until next year, including the new animal shelter. The panel, though, approved the planning of those campus projects to the tune of $400,000. It’s expected that the county will have to consider debt funding to finance the upgrades to the campus.

The panel also advocated spending $95,000 with the circuit court; $90,000 with the parks system; $746,000 with information technology; $302,000 with the zoo; and $178,000 with the sheriff’s department.

Fiscal Services Director Robert White told committee members that the county should have $3.8 million available to spend on capital improvements in 2006. But he suggested that commissioners set aside the $900,000 difference between the $3.8 million expected to be on hand and the recommended spending level of $2.9 million for the following year.

Dan Kendall of public works, Craig Paull of information technology, Lloyd Pitsch of the sheriff’s department, Jon Denhof of purchasing, and Marvin VanNortwick of fiscal services served with White and Mihos on the panel.

County Administrator and Controller Daryl Delabbio told committee members that his office is working on other capital improvement projects that aren’t ready to be publicly revealed yet.

White said the county could expect nearly $4 million in tax revenue for projects in 2007. For 2006, he said the county would receive about $500,000 more in tax dollars than it expected due to the shift in property tax deadlines mandated by the state.

White also said that committee members should start thinking about 2010, the year the county may have to spend $80 million to expand the jail.    

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