County budget heads to commissioners for final vote

November 13, 2015
| By Pat Evans |
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The 2016 annual budget will go in front of the Kent County Board of Commissioners Thursday.

Next year’s budget includes a 0.4 percent increase over the 2015 budget, with a gross expenditure requirement of $382.586 million, including $6.2 million in capital improvements. Total revenues from all funds are expected to be $379.586 million.

The general fund has revenues of $146.511 million and expenditures of $130.603 million.

“The elected officers, department directors, and judiciary continue to do an exceptional job of holding the line on requests in this very challenging environment, while minimizing any reductions in services to our citizens,” Kent County Administrator/Controller Daryl Delabbio wrote in the summary.

The proposed millage rate for 2016 will be 5.6196, the same as in 2015. It’s the seventh lowest millage rate in Michigan, and the second lowest of the five largest counties in Michigan. The county’s State Taxable Value is estimated to have increased 2.23 percent to $21.476 billion in 2016, which provides the basis for the general operating property tax revenue estimate.

It is estimated to bring in $88.679 million in general operating tax revenue, representing 53.72 percent of the county’s general fund revenue.

The proposed budget includes a recommendation to eliminate approximately the equivalent of seven full-time jobs, all of which are vacant. There is also a moratorium on adding new positions. Personnel costs represent 50.3 percent of the operating budget.

Public safety represents 34.8 percent of the general fund expenditures by function, and general government represents 25.6 percent. Judicial is the only other function to receive more than 10 percent, at 12.8 percent.

The Finance and Physical Resources Committee recommended in July that $7.95 million, including $5.35 million from the general fund, be appropriated to capital improvement projects in the county.

The proposed budget also includes $61.5 million in debt payments for 22 outstanding bonds. Kent County currently has $360.5 million in outstanding debts, which is 1.7 percent of the county’s State Equalized Value. Michigan’s Constitution states that no county shall increase its debt beyond 10 percent of its assessed value. Kent County maintains a Triple-A credit rating by both Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s Investor Services.

The county clerk’s budget is in line for a 136.9 percent increase because of the national election in 2016.

“The proposed 2016 budget can best be described as an effort to balance the major and conflicting needs of the organization and community, weighing priorities, emphasizing the mandated functions of the county, and attempting to appropriate limited resources in the most reasonable and responsible manner possible,” Delabbio said.

“I continue to be encouraged by the challenges we have overcome and the continued commitment to providing quality services to our citizens.”

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