County sets improvements budget

July 22, 2011
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Members of the Kent County Finance Committee gave their OK last week to $3.9 million in capital improvements for the coming fiscal year, a recommendation the full county commission will take up in November when the board is expected to adopt the 2012 general operating budget.

The CIP list contains 35 projects, with the most expensive being a $1.16 million payment to bondholders for upgrades the county made to its Fuller Avenue campus and for the construction of the 63rd District Courthouse on East Beltline Avenue. Next is an investment of $282,000 to replace the elevator controls in the administration building at 300 Monroe Ave. NW. The controls are original equipment that have been in use since the building opened in 1969. Third is a request for $210,000 to replace a quarter of the county’s existing server hardware.

Most of the funds for the CIP budget, $3.86 million, will come through the general operating budget. Commissioners agreed earlier this year to set aside 0.2 mills from property-tax receipts to pay for the improvements. Another $39,000 will come from other sources. The initial CIP list contained 70 requests that would have required $7.2 million to fund, but the list was pared back a few weeks ago to its current number.

The Finance Committee also recommended that the board approve a property swap with the Sietsema Land Co. LLC for Millennium Park, a measure commissioners will take up on Thursday. County Parks Director Roger Sabine said both parcels on Maynard Avenue NW are triangular and of the same size, but he said gaining the Sietsema site will allow the final stretch of the Fred Meijer Millennium Trail Network to be developed.

The county will pay Sietsema $90,665 to construct the trail around the base of Lake Leota and pay $10 for an easement, money that will come from the Millennium Park Trail Network CIP fund. Assistant County Administrator Mary Swanson said the property swap will not increase the park’s maintenance or operating expenses.

Commissioner Roger Morgan asked Sabine to provide the commission with an update on Millennium Park; that report could be coming Thursday. “A lot of things have been happening at Millennium Park with the boathouse and the property purchase,” said Morgan.

Commissioners agreed to buy 10.4 acres for the park at a cost of $172,000 in June, and the DeVos Boathouse opened and began offering kayak and canoe rentals about the same time.

The county received its ninth consecutive Distinguished Budget Presentation Award last week from the Government Finance Officers Association of the U.S. and Canada. In receiving the award, the county’s general operating budget was rated “proficient” as a policy document, a financial plan, an operations guide and a communications device, in general, and in 14 separate criteria within those four categories.

“It’s a monumental task to develop a budget for such a complex organization as Kent County. To receive the award is a testament to the professionalism and dedication of the staff,” said Sandi Frost Parrish, commission chairwoman, in a release.

“The budget reflects the priorities of the board of commissioners,” said Daryl Delabbio, administrator and controller for the county. “It also has to be able to communicate to every citizen what the county does.”

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