Kent County Approves Budget

September 23, 2005
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GRAND RAPIDS — Kent County commissioners approved a general fund budget last week that is projected to fall about $1.5 million short of meeting expenses in the upcoming fiscal year.

County commissioners appropriated $160.1 million in spending for the general fund over the 2006 calendar year, but they expect to only spend $154 million of that appropriation. Tax revenue to the general fund is expected to total $152.5 million next year. The county plans to make up the $1.5 million difference with reserve funds. The fiscal year begins on Jan. 1.

A portion of the expected tax revenue includes an admission fee to the MillenniumPark beach, along with other potential charges. Commissioners, though, haven't approved any fees for the 1,500-acre park as of yet.

In other action last week, commissioners agreed to sell 5.7 acres of land near the GeraldR.FordInternationalAirport to the Michigan Department of Transportation for $133,000. MDOT will use the parcel for a right-of-way near the new

36th Street
interchange being built along I-96. Airport officials will use the sale revenue for capital projects at GFIA.

Commissioners will also look into refunding the bonds that built the county courthouse at the corner of Ottawa Avenue and Lyon Street NW. Doing so could save the county roughly $4 million in interest charges over the life of the 28-year bond package that was issued by the county's Building Authority in 1998.

CountyFiscal Services Director Robert White told commissioners he hopes the bonds will go on sale by Oct. 18. But he added that if the market drops and reduces the county's potential savings from an expected 5 percent to 3 percent, then he wouldn't go ahead with the refunding because the cost of doing so would outweigh the gain from taking that action.

"The market is rather volatile right now," said White.

The building authority issued bonds worth $65.65 million for the construction of the courthouse seven years ago and $54.32 million worth remains outstanding. The county's current coupon rate is 4.9 percent and refunding the securities could lower that charge to 4.38 percent.    

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