Thursday, September 8, 2011

Budget Update: Human Services, Law Enforcement, Judiciary Committees

I hope everyone had a great Labor Day and enjoyed the long weekend. 

Last week, I reported on the initial budget proposal. I also reported what happened in the County Services committee, on which I serve.  I thought that this week, I would report on the other three liaison committees and their budget hearings. Or, more appropriately, I thought I would ask the Chairs of those committees to report (as I wasn’t there!).

Commissioner Todd Tennis, Chair of the Human Services Committee, reports the following:

At the Human Services Budget hearing, we reviewed the Controller’s recommended budgets for the Health Department, Department of Human Services, Cooperative Extension, Mid-South Substance Abuse, the Ingham Medical Care Facility, Legal Aid, and Veteran’s Affairs.  Although cuts were made to each area, department heads hope to continue providing quality services.  Of course, by eliminating 13 full-time positions from these various agencies, maintaining good service while not overburdening county employees will be a tough balancing act. 

The committee also discussed how best to perform the responsibility of County Medical Examiner.  Currently, autopsies are being performed by Sparrow Hospital with Dr. Dean Sienko filling the role of County Medical Examiner (a role he has filled for many years).  With his imminent departure, the Human Services Committee will be taking another look at how best to complete the tasks of Medical Examiner and how to full Dr. Sienko’s very large shoes.

Commissioner Victor Celentino, Chair of the Law Enforcement Committee, reports the following:

The Law Enforcement Committee met on Thursday, September 1, 2010 at 5:30pm.  The following departments were satisfied with the controller's recommended budget as it relates to their respective departments:  Animal Conrtrol, Prosecuting Attorney, Tri-County Metro Narcotics Squad, Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management, Emergency Telephone-911 millage, and Community Corrections.

The Sheriff requested $19,210.00 be put on the Z-list (officially called the Strategic Initiatives List, which contains $300,000 for priority initiatives) to replace a Deputy position which is funded through a Michigan State Police three year grant.  The grant is set to expire on September 30, 2012, and this Z-list money will continue the position through the 2012 calendar year.  It is the Sheriff's intention to request this position in his 2012 budget. Commissioner Randy Schafer then motioned (which was approved) restoration of the positions by adding them to the Z-list: $100,000 for a Detective and $90,000 for an additional Deputy.  The committee approved the following motion when ranking the Z-list requests: 
   1.  $19,210.00 request to restore the grant funding Deputy position.
   2.  $100,000.00 to restore the Detective position.
   3.  $90,000.00 request to restore a Deputy position.
The committee's recommendations were forwarded to the September 14th Finance Committee meeting.

Commissioner Rebecca Bahar Cook, Chair of the Judiciary Committee, reports the following:

My fellow Commissioners and I have set the following priorities regarding Ingham County's Judiciary to help us guide the development of the 2012 Budget:
 • Provide appropriate sanctions for adult offenders
 • Provide appropriate treatment and sanctions for at risk juveniles
 • Assuring Judicial Processing
Due to the loss of tax revenue cause by the housing crisis, the courts initially requested more money than was available in the county’s General Fund. Members of the courts, after reviewing the Controller’s budget agreed to most of the cuts recommended. The only additional request was from the Circuit Court asking for an additional $50,000 for image scanning of various court files. By allowing this technological update, records can be pulled quickly, allowing the court employees to acquire requested information much more quickly. Members of the Judiciary Committee agreed to put this item on the Z-list for further consideration by the Finance Committee.

Commissioners feel that we are able to maintain the priorities listed above with the approved budget, despite additional cuts to the county’s budget.

I’d like this opportunity to thank the Ingham County Controllers office, our Judges in District, Circuit and Probate Court and court administrative staff for their hard work on helping develop the newly approved 2012 Proposed Budget for Ingham County’s Judiciary Committee. Now, on to the Finance Committee . . .
These committees, along with the County Services committee (chaired by Commissioner Deb DeLeon), have finalized their individual budgets. The Finance Committee will meet on Wednesday and will consider these four budgets together as one and make any necessary changes. Finance will also consider the requests on the Strategic Initiatives List (called the Z-List) and rank them in the appropriate order. The requests this year are less than the $300,000 budgeted, so it would seem that we will be ableto fund all the necessities…but there are always some surprises.   Check in next week to see the result!

Thanks to Commissioners Celentino, Tennis, and Bahar-Cook for pitching in to help with the blog this week and update readers on these committees!

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