Government and Health Care

County revenue is down in fiscal year’s first half

Commissioners approve financing plan for health department clinic consolidation.

August 30, 2013
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Total revenue to the Kent County general operating fund was down by $1.3 million at the fiscal year’s halfway mark from the same period a year ago to $38.3 million, a drop of 3.3 percent.

Tax revenue to the fund also was down, but by 24 percent from last year to $2.2 million through the first six months.

“This is primarily due to a decrease in the reimbursement for the operating levy pursuant to the sale of delinquent tax notes,” said County Fiscal Services Director Stephen Duarte.

But at the same time, the fund’s expenditures were also down by 2.2 percent for the second quarter to $72.6 million. Wages decreased a bit and the employee health insurance coverage fell by 16.3 percent to $4.3 million by the end of June.

The county’s pension cost, though, rose by 13.3 percent to $2.8 million. “We’re still not 100 percent funded in our pension plan,” said Duarte.

At the midway point the county’s general operating fund showed a deficit of $34.2 million. That shortfall is normal at the year’s six-month mark. The gap will close this quarter when the county receives its property-tax revenue, which has been projected to total $83.7 million for the fiscal year.

“We’re still expecting a break-even year and maybe even a modest surplus,” said Duarte.

Revenue was up during the second quarter for another key county account: the lodging excise tax fund. Tax revenue to the fund grew by 11 percent. It stood at $2.6 million, up from $2.3 million last year.

“I expect the 2013 tax revenue to come in at $7 million,” said Duarte of the year-end figure. “I expect we’ll be able to meet the ($6 million DeVos Place) debt payment from the tax revenue.”

That expectation played a major role in action commissioners recently took when they approved a financing plan to consolidate the county’s Wyoming and Kentwood health clinics into one location at 4700 Kalamazoo Ave. SW, the former Kentwood Library building.

Merging the two clinics and adding a dental service from Michigan Community Dental Clinics has been projected to cost about $2.6 million. But the proposal was short by roughly $1.3 million of meeting that funding goal.

So part of the plan commissioners ratified calls for the county to reach into the lodging excise fund and take $1.2 million the board had earlier transferred to it from general operations and move those dollars to the consolidation project.

“For this one year we can probably get by without that,” said County Administrator and Controller Daryl Delabbio of the $1.2 million, as the projected tax revenue is expected to cover the fund’s debt service.

The rest of the county’s financing plan includes taking $431,250 from the capital improvement fund and up to $395,000 from that fund’s reserve. Those dollars will be added to $567,500 the effort received in private donations, mostly from local foundations.

Kentwood has agreed to sell the former library for $300,000, plus about $30,000 in closing costs that the county will pay. “They’ve been very supportive of this in our process,” said Commissioner Harold Mast of Kentwood officials.

Another $1.3 million has been budgeted for the build-out project, and the needed dental equipment will cost about $475,000. The county expects to save about $130,000 annually from the consolidation by not having two lease payments and having fewer employees at the new location.

Commissioners also approved a 20-year lease with Michigan Community Dental Clinics for 5,000 square feet of space in the new clinic. MCDC is a nonprofit with 22 locations across the state in such cities as Big Rapids, Cadillac, Gaylord, Mt. Pleasant, Manistee and Traverse City.

“This fills a need that is critical to our community,” said Commissioner Dick Vander Molen of adding dental services to the county’s offerings. “I’m pleased that we were able to get it to this point.”

MCDC CEO Tom Veryser told board members that his operation has 58 dentists on staff throughout its locations and the firm provides complete dental services including orthodontics. Veryser also assured commissioners that he will be able to staff the county’s clinic, which will have three chairs.

“Our model encourages dentists to seek a public-health career. This should be an easy one to staff. I don’t see a problem,” he said.

“We will we will get some efficiencies and serve the people that need this service,” said County Assistant Administrator Wayman Britt, who spearheaded the consolidation project.

Britt told commissioners he expects the new clinic will open next spring, possibly in May.

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