Thursday, April 21, 2011

2011 Budget starts, Taxable Values Plummet, 911 Center Takes Final Steps, Hertel Catches Fraud, and Fundraiser Reminder

This week, we took the first steps to starting our budget. Every year, the first step in the budget process it to pass a resolution establishing the priorities to guide the development of the 2012 budget and activities of county staff. In the two committees that I serve on - County Services and Finance - there was little controversy. I understand that there was controversy in the Law Enforcement committee, and I assume we will hear more about that next week at the full Board meeting. We scaled back the resolution from previous years and didn't have to make big priority cuts. Our recent past years have seen us having to make big structural changes like closing a jail post, closing a park, eliminating road patrol, and other things. These changes have lead to the deficit this year being lower than it could have been. While a $5.5 million budget deficit is not easy to solve, it could have been much worse.

In conjunction with this, in Finance we received the annual Equalization report. we found out that 8 of the 13 townships and 4 of the 5 cities had negative taxable values compared to the year before. Of those that did not go down, it was because of agricultural property (Williamstown), new development panning out (Aurelius) and an industrial park coming back online for taxes (Mason). Otherwise, property values continue to fall and so do taxable values and tax revenues to communities. Not a good sign. Overall, taxable values in 2011 are a negative 244,061,553 (a 3.22% decline). Next year, in 2012, original estimations are that taxable values will go down another $300 million. This could be reduced to a negative $200 million, though, and our equalization director will keep us updated. These numbers will be used as we look at the status of our 2011 budget and as we start looking at preparing a 2012 budget. Total general fund revenues so far for 2011 are a negative $1,550,084. The estimated general fund revenues are expected to decline $1,905,360. Again, not a good
sign for keeping necessary services being provided. But we have great staff and great leadership, and we will make this work, as we have for the last few years. I am proud to be part of this process as the Finance Chair this year.

In addition to the budget, we took our next (and close to final) steps regarding the new 911 center. We passed a resolution to approve the final design plans and authorizing the Ingham County Building Authority to proceed with bid documents for the Ingham County consolidated 911 Dispatch Center project. This center will soon be built, and we will have finished a major consolidation that will centralize 911 dispatch resources and save dollars for the county moving forward.

I want to give a great bog shout-out and thank-you to Ingham County Register of Deeds Curtis Hertel, Jr. He recently rooted out numerous cases of fraud after seeing a report on 60 minutes about a certain scam. Hertel found over 60 examples of the same exact pattern and the same fraud committed in Ingham County by checking signatures on the mortgage assignment documents. Check out the news story here -

Thanks Curtis! We will hear more from him soon on this blog.

Finally, a reminder - I will be having my first Andy Schor for State Representative fundraiser next week on Wednesday. For more information, you can go to I have received amazing support so far and I expect this to be a great event. Thanks to everyone who has already contributed, and I look forward to a seeing everyone there!

That's it. Have a great week, everyone...and thanks for reading and caring about important issues in Ingham County.

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