In a budget hearing following the regular Barry County Commission meeting Sept. 13, commissioners considered four appeals of recommended budget appropriations.
Two increases were approved, two remain as projected in the 2017 budget recommended by Administrator Michael Brown and deputy Administrator Luella Dennison.
The Agriculture Preservation Board request for $2,950 to cover its expenses was approved.
The Equalization Department will get a part-time employee for 25 hours a week for $14,658 to help in the department and have someone in the office when staff is doing field work. The new hire also could handle the work done now by contract for $17, 500, helping to reduce the cost. The original request was for a 30-hour position for a total cost of $42,878.
The Parks & Recreation Board request for an additional $20,400 was denied with commissioners noting that the board had a boost of $20,000 up to $34,175 last year. The appropriation for 2017 will stay at $34,175.
The Barry Eaton District Health Department request for an additional $18,427 for a total $459,653 in funding for operations was debated, but the appropriation will stay as recommended at $441,266. After discussing the request at length, commissioners agreed the health department has a healthy enough fund balance to supplement its additional needs.
The commission also approved a one-time payment of $15,000 for Career Technical Education through the Barry County Economic Development Alliance. The increases come from the contingency fund that was at $121,059 and now is $88,451.//
During discussion of the health department appeal, Commissioner Ben Geiger asked Brown to work on a solution to a too complex, “wacky, antiquated” funding percentage formula, which fluctuates during the year, and develop a workable and understandable basis for Eaton and Barry counties to share the cost of running the combined health department. Geiger advised a monthly rate indexed to inflation, but in any case, the current formula, “is not working and has got to stop…I want it to be fair and predictable for both counties.”
At the regular board meeting Sept. 13, the commission approved hiring Beckering Construction as project manager of the Barry County Courthouse renovations as recommended by president of Landmark Design Group, Bob Van Putten. Beckering’s cost is $47,575, included in the total renovation cost of $306,962.
As the only “no” vote, Commissioner Jim Dull again strongly objected to the move, saying the work should be put out for bid, there were other companies that would bid on it, and he was “not impressed” with Beckering’s work on the community building.
The commission also approved:
* an agreement with the Michigan Department of Transportation for 2017 and to allow Barry County Transit Director William Voigt to authorize MDOT/ Barry County Transit projects.
* state tax form L-4029, allowing the county collect winter taxes, required by the end of September.
* Title IV-D Cooperative Reimbursement Program contract for a five-year renewal of funding for the Friend of the Court for an estimated $5,166, 881.75 over the five year span.
* entry into the state Farmland Preservation Program, commonly called PA 116, for Joshua and Megan Chase for 97 acres in Section 34 of Carlton Township.
* a contract renewal with Iserv Company to provide telephone and internet service for three years, beginning Sept. 13 with no increase in cost.
* budget amendment B-16 containing a large number of adjustments to the income and expenditures in the budget.