Government

County approves $417M budget

Despite rapid population growth, leaders focus on containing costs.

December 22, 2017
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The Kent County Board of Commissioners passed the 2018 annual budget of $417.6 million, which includes $6.9 million for the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) and $172.3 million for the general fund. While the county continues to be among the fastest-growing populations of any county in Michigan, the Board of Commissioners remained focused on keeping costs contained.

The list of approved projects for the 2018 CIP includes $44,811 for the drain commission, $2,001,019 for facilities management, $400,000 for health, $3,260,758 for information technology, $560,000 for parks, $27,079 for the sheriff’s department and $164,280 for John Ball Zoo. These amount to a grand total of $6,457,947.

The general fund budget is just over $172.3 million, an increase of 3.3 percent from the previous year. This budget includes the county’s major operating funds. Some highlighted changes to the general fund budget include:

  • The county clerk’s elections division budget increased by about $250,000. In even-numbered years, the county clerk’s budget sees an increase because of either statewide or national elections.

  • The 63rd District Court general fund budget will increase 4.2 percent, from $3.09 million in 2017 to $3.22 million in 2018. This increase is because of the court’s request for the Sheriff’s Department to provide an additional deputy for court security.

  • The parks budget will increase 6.5 percent, from $5.47 million in 2017 to $5.83 million in 2018. This is attributed to a general personnel increase and the addition of an assistant parks manager position.

  • The circuit court will have a budget increase of 2.2 percent, from $17.4 million in 2017 to $17.8 million in 2018. The increase is a result of a general increase in personnel costs and an increase in trial court appointed attorney fees.

  • The total child care budget decreased 9.7 percent, from $30.7 million in 2017 to $27.7 million in 2018. The change in this budget is attributed to the implementation and performance-based funding plan. The 2018 budget also provides for a 5 percent increase from the 2017 budget. Existing programs and services will be maintained.

Jim Saalfeld, chairman of the Kent County Board of Commissioners, said the county would maintain a balanced budget with no tax increase. The 2018 budget calls for the same operating millage rate of 4.2803 mills that has been levied since 2004.

“This board of commissioners and the county administration have been prudent about spending while addressing the needs of our county,” Saalfeld said. “I am pleased to report that we are well-positioned moving forward.”

The county’s state taxable value (STV) increased 3.4 percent, from $21.12 billion in 2016 to $21.84 billion in 2017. Marvin Van Nortwick, county fiscal services budget director, emphasized the STV hasn’t been this high since 2009.

“Because of the recession, the county has just now seen an increase of taxable value the same as it was then,” he said.

The estimated STV for 2018 is $25.53 billion, which is the basis for next year’s general operating property tax revenue estimate. The estimated STV will generate around $92.81 million, a 3.1 percent increase from 2017’s estimated actual general operating property tax revenue. This tax revenue will account for 53.9 percent of the general fund.

For the remainder of the general fund, 15.9 percent will come from charges for services, 13.4 percent from intergovernmental revenue, 10.2 percent from transfers in, 4.3 percent from other revenue and 2.4 percent from investments, rents and royalties.

Expenditures for the general fund will be divided into 52.1 percent for personnel, 26.7 percent for other services and charges, 18.5 percent for transfers out, 1.4 percent for supplies and 1.3 for capital.

For all funds for 2018, the county will collect about $412.2 million in revenue — 35.1 percent will come from taxes, 22.2 percent from charges for services, 15.5 percent from intergovernmental revenue, 14.8 percent from transfers in, 9.3 percent from other revenue and 3.1 percent from investments, rents and royalties.

Total expenditures for 2018 are $356.2 million, excluding about $61.4 million the county will transfer out. Although the total budget is $417.6 million, the county will only spend 86.8 percent of the total: 43.1 percent will go to other services and charges, 35.9 percent to personnel, 3.7 percent to debt service, 2.6 percent to capital and 1.5 percent to supplies.

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