HARRISVILLE - The Alcona County Board of Commissioners focused on 2013 finances at its regular meeting on Wednesday, posting the county's proposed 2013 budget for public evaluation and choosing a new insurance policy for non-unionized county employees.
The board unanimously voted to post its proposed 2013 budget, which consists of a $4,568,031 general fund, though the budget will not be finalized and approved until the board's next meeting on Dec. 19, after the public has had a chance to see it in the clerk's office and give feedback. Board Chair Kevin Boyat said the most difficult part of budgeting this year was accounting for a loss in HUNT millage revenue for the Alcona County Sheriff Department.
"The biggest challenge was the sheriff's department, because we had to cut some out of his. We shouldn't say just out of his, because this whole building is really, really tight now," he said. "Over the last few years, they've been cut down to about nothing, and there's not much more we can cut here, so to make up the difference, some had to be cut (elsewhere)."
He said the budget is only slightly bigger than last year's.
"It's a few thousand more ... so after everything else, the 2 percent raise and all the other stuff going up, if we can keep it within a couple thousand dollars, I think that's pretty good," he said.
After debating whether or not to opt out of Public Act 152 again this year, the board decided to go with the state-established "hard cap" health insurance plan that will require non-unionized county employees to pay for some of their insurance. A single person will now pay an estimated $46.48 a month, a couple about $106.90, and a family about $127.82. Boyat said opting out again would only delay the inevitable day when the county would have to ask employees to pay more, and the difference will be less egregious now than it would be later.
"I think it's fair, because we already have some people on that," he said. "The court system has to go with it, and some other people, so this will be all our elected officials and our department heads. Non-union employees will have to pay this starting Jan. 1, 2013."
Besides the hard cap and opting out, Boyat said the other option, an 80/20 copayment plan, was too unpredictable and potentially costly.
"The 80/20, next year, it could change," he said. "If it goes up, you're going to pay 20 percent, whatever it is. If it goes up $100, you're going to pay another $20. It could be really expensive."
In other business:
Andrew Westrope can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5693.