Government and Real Estate

Bureau receives more time for annual EQ report

County Executive Committee adopts 2020 strategic plan.

April 26, 2013
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The latest report from the county’s Bureau of Equalization recently went before the county’s Finance Committee in a calm and efficient manner.

But the presentation didn’t accurately portray the behind-the-scene scrambling that County Equalization Director Matt Woolford and his small staff go through every year to meet the meeting deadline.

“Matt is crunching numbers at the last minute, but we had the numbers in time for the meeting,” said County Administrator and Controller Daryl Delabbio.

So the county has changed when the report will be first presented in order to give the bureau at least seven more working days to compile it.

Woolford first unveiled the current equalization report, which is very important to the residential and commercial real estate fields and the local taxing jurisdictions, to the Finance Committee April 16. The committee recommended the report go to the full board of commissioners and it did, on April 25, when the board accepted it. Now it goes on to the state.

The difficulty for Woolford and his crew to make the deadline of the first meeting is the bureau doesn’t receive the assessment rolls from the county’s 30 cities and townships until April 1. That means the department normally has only two weeks to calculate the assessment data across the five property classes: residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural and personal.

Delabbio offered the Executive Committee two options to make things easier for the bureau. One was to skip the presentation to the Finance Committee and go directly to the commission with the report. “There is nothing that legally requires it to go to a standing committee,” he said.

“We’re just following our existing practice. There is nothing in the Standing Rules requiring it,” agreed County Counsel Dan Ophoff.

The section option was to have the Finance Committee hear the first presentation an hour or so before the full commission receives the report.

“I favor some sort of meeting before it goes to the board,” said Commissioner Carol Hennessy. And that’s the route the Executive Committee took.

Starting next year, the Finance Committee will meet an hour before the board’s second scheduled meeting in April to hear the equalization report.

“I think we can hold that meeting for a few years and see how it goes,” said Commissioner Harold Voorhees, who chairs the Finance Committee.

The change in the reporting date means the data will become public a week later than in past years.

The Executive Committee also signed off on five priorities for the county to follow as part of its strategic planning through 2020: maintain stable revenues to cover expenses; use resources efficiently; keep the county a safe community; look for innovative solutions and address issues systemically; and maintain a high-quality of life that will be attractive to growth and development.

Three themes emerged in the discussions that led to the priorities. One, the county is financially strong. Two, the county is committed to collaborating with municipalities to create community-wide benefits. Three, the county has developed a high level of professionalism in conducting business and completing its due diligence to support sound decision making.

It’s uncertain whether the new planning document will go before commissioners for their adoption.

“Unless someone wants to bring something up, I’m not sure there is something for the board to adopt,” said Commission Vice Chairman Jim Saalfeld.

“We’ll include this in Daryl’s weekly (report) and ask for comments,” said Commission Chairman Dan Koorndyk.

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