The Chippewa County Board of Commissioners met in special session on Thursday, July 15, 2004 at 5:00 p.m. in the Courtroom of the Chippewa County Courthouse.
Present: Commissioners Ted Postula, Don Cooper, Rita Dale, Richard Timmer ( 5:10 p.m.), Aaron Hopper, Jim Moore and Chairman Earl Kay.
Also Present: Jack Storey, Evening News, Debbie Sirk, Ruth Horka, Tina James-Ojala, Mary Sue Nelson, Sue Short, Jeff Moran, Sheriff, Don Holt, Road Commission, Thelma Bosbous, Friend of the Court, Barb Fortin, Cathy Maleport, Jeannie Goeschel, Liz Michalski, Gail Shunk, Vicki Gage, Marilyn McDonald, Treasurer, Margie Hank, Ron Cross, Dave Carpenter, Finance Director, Sharon Kennedy, Register of Deeds/Equalization Director, Liz Church, Julie Beck, George W., D. Cheney, Tim Dolehanty, Controller and Diane Cork, County Clerk
Debbie Sirk approached the board with ten questions that she wanted the board to answer while the public was present.
Chairman Kay asked Ms. Sirk to ask her questions and then submit them in writing to the Controller for a response.
Controller Dolehanty stated that over the last fee weeks there have been questions about what the budget would look like with projections calculated for the next three years. The Commissioners had been given a budget projection summary sheet with revenue and expenses projected over the years 2005-2007. Mr. Dolehanty cautioned that the further away you get from the present, the less accurate/reliable the projection numbers may be and that only past trends can be used for these calculations.
Sharon Kennedy, Register of Deeds/Equalization Director, addressed the Board. She stated that at a recent meeting one of the Commissioners had asked her to briefly discuss the possibility of a millage proposal before the voters of Chippewa County.
Ms. Kennedy handed out a Revenue Projection for Operating Millage Ballot Proposal. This proposal outlined the taxable value .05 mill vs 1 mill for parcel values ranging from $10,000 to $150,000 and the estimated tax increase per parcel. She stated that the average taxable value of residential classed property in Chippewa County is approximately $25,000.
Ms. Kennedy stated that currently, voted pegged millage runs through the collection of 2006 which means that in 2007, the Allocation Board is reconvened.
Commissioner Cooper stated that at looking at the budget projections, 2005-2007, he does not see a revenue problem, but an expense problem. He felt that before going to the public for a millage proposal, the board needs to prove to the tax payers that they are good stewards of their money and if the County is going through a budget crunch so are the residents of Chippewa County.
Commissioner Kay stated that the revenues seem to be very flat projections for 2005-2007.
Commissioner Cooper felt that with the deficit projected, a millage would not cover and the County needs to make cuts.
Commissioner Postula thought that a millage was a start and if wrong cuts were made, matching funds could be cut.
Marilyn McDonald, Treasurer, said she was not thrilled with a millage proposal but with the way the State is proposing that they take our allocated tax next year they would not be able touch millage money.
Ms. McDonald expressed the need to educate the public to know that their services are going to be cut. They have to know that the County has cut everything that they can and that they have tried to find other revenues before going to the public.
Commissioner Moore was concerned with no out county road patrol and at least by going to the public, they would make the decision what services they want.
Chairman Kay cautioned that a millage may not pass.
Commissioner Dale wanted to know if they had checked on the State run agencies now that the State has cut revenues. She felt that this was unfair to the County.
Discussion was held on 50% cut in sick pay and furlough days, hours of work, hiring freeze and departments over budget.
Sue Short, Probate/Family Court , spoke about the 40 hour work week in comparison to the amount of money that is recooped by working those hours.
Commissioner Timmer asked where the County was at the present time.
Mr. Dolehanty responded by saying there has been no response from the Courthouse union and that the Sheriff sounded positive about the concessions with his particular department. As far as the furlough days are concerned, he had received a letter from Judge McDonald not agreeing to the furlough days. As to the balance of the employees, furlough days have been implemented. This still leaves $150,000-200,000 short of the projected goal. Mr. Dolehanty reminded the Commission that statutes don’t allow a deficit at the end of the year.
Discussion was held on past millages, revenue and senior meals.
Liz Church, Chief Public Defender, inquired about furlough days and what the definition of furlough days meant.
Chairman Kay responded that it would be the employee’s choice to take a whole day or any part of a day that they wished.
Commissioner Timmer asked if a list could be compiled of non-mandated official services that are provided by the County.
Fianance Director David Carpenter said it was his understanding that the sick time payout was more than just when the employee leaves county employment but also the days not used by the end of the year (8 days allocated) would also be cut in half for non-union employees.
Commissioner Timmer commented that a millage can’t be used as a solution, cuts still need to be made.
Ms. Kennedy explained Headlee rolls back millage by about $90,458.00 this year. Headlee means that the revenue that the taxing unit can generate in any one year for operating millages can only go up by the rate of inflation after adjustment for any physical changes to the previous year’s tax rolls.
It was moved by Commissioner Postula, supported by Commissioner Cooper, to adjourn. On a voice vote, Commissioners Postula and Cooper voted yes. Commissioners Timmer, Moore, Dale and Chairman Kay voted no. The motion failed 2-5.
Commissioner Timmer recommended that the Commissioners come to an agreement to pursue a millage to put before the electors. This was supported by Commissioner Hopper.
Commissioner Dale thought that this issue should be left up to the voters.
Commissioner Cooper stated he could not defend the County millage until the spending problem is rectified.
On the call of the question, Commissioners Postula, Dale, Timmer, Hopper, Moore and Kay voted yes. Commissioner Cooper voted no. The motion passed 6-1.
Thelma Bosbous, Friend of the Court, read a prepared statement to the Board in anticipation of the Board considering a millage proposition to be put before the electors even though the Commissioners are up for election this year.
Having no further business, it was moved by Commissioner Cooper, supported by Commissioner Hopper, to adjourn. On a voice vote, the motion carried unanimously. Thereupon the Board did adjourn at 6:55 p.m.
Diane S. Cork, Clerk
Earl Kay, Chairman