ROGERS CITY - Presque Isle County has a new budget for the upcoming fiscal year after its board of commissioners passed one similar to the current budget.
Commissioners approved the $5,142,806 budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year at their meeting Friday, along with a few adjustments to the current budget. The budget for the upcoming fiscal year represents a slight decrease from the current one, Chairman Carl Altman said. This is largely due to a drop in various revenue sources.
Decreased state funding and sagging property values account for most of the drop in the county's revenue, Patricia Bauer, interim county treasurer, said. Additionally, some county offices are projected to see a decrease in incoming funds.
"It's just a fact of life, I guess," she said. "Everything's being cut back."
County officials are waiting to find out what will happen with swamp taxes, a per-acre fee paid on state-controlled wetlands within the county, Bauer said. The money is split between the county and its townships, and county officials were anticipating around $71,000 from the state. Instead, the county got around $11,000 less.
Bauer said she received an email from the state treasurer indicating the legislature has passed a bill appropriating funds to cover most of the shortfall. Now, Bauer and others are hoping lawmakers decide to do the same for the next fiscal year.
While revenues are slightly down from the 2011-12 fiscal year, expenses are slightly up, Altman said. Various departments had rising costs, and commissioners are considering asking county taxpayers to help fund one increasingly expensive service: recycling. The county could spend as much as $47,500 under the new budget.
"We are looking at the possibility of setting up a per-household fee, or maybe a millage based on (state-equalized value) to pay for that," he said. The county no longer receives money to fund the service as it had in the past, and the money could go toward other projects.
County officials have asked an architect to find the most feasible option to improve the courthouse, Altman said. The aging structure is frequently in need of repair, making for a growing expense for taxpayers and a source of frustration for commissioners. Some county departments have moved their offices to the newly renovated Nowicki Building.
Employee wages for various county departments are being negotiated with three different unions, Altman said. Commissioners have tried to maintain a contingencies fund to cover any additional expenses for wages or benefits.
"That's got us all a little bit anxious right now on how those contracts settle out," he said.
During the board meeting, Altman thanked Bauer, County Commissioner Susan Rhode and other for their work in putting together the county budget.
Altman and Bauer said they are pleased with the new budget overall, adding the county must make do with what it has.
"I think we're just going to try to continue to live within our budget, and I think we do a pretty good job of that," Altman said.
In other business:
The refurbishing company has indicated it will buy the tanks back in 24 months from the purchase if they prove to be unnecessary, Darga said.
Another project will honor a Rogers City resident who donated money for the airport. An organization of female pilots to which she belonged will paint a rose on the airport taxi way in her honor. Commissioners approved a budget of up to $800 for paint and one night's lodging for an organization member.
Jordan Travis can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5688.