Turbulent Times Are Ahead Says County Board Chairman Tilley.
New County Board Chair Tilley Sees 'Turbulent Financial Times Ahead'
University Presence in Downtown Bay City, Countywide Wi-Fi Access are Goals
January 8, 2011
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By: Dave Rogers
Donald J. Tilley, new chairman of the Bay County Board of Commissioners, is like a ship captain at the helm heading into strong headwinds.
"We are facing turbulent times ahead and there will be difficulty balancing budgets without revenue enhancements," he said.
Despite the challenges, the county has adopted a $35.6 million balanced budget for fiscal year 2011 and Mr. Tilley is hopeful that the county can move ahead on several important fronts.
He said his ideas for a university presence in downtown Bay City are winning initial support in the community but obviously will depend on the willingness of a university to establish a center here.
Mr. Tilley predicted that countywide wi-fi access will be a reality here soon.
An announcement may be forthcoming about wi-fi access at a minimal cost, but details are not yet firmed up enough, he said.
Mr. Tilley was elected chair on Monday by an 8-0 vote, with new Commissioner Joe Davis absent.
Kim Coonan was named vice chair and Brandon Krause, of Kawkawlin, sergeant at arms.
Mr. Tilley said communications are a big factor in the county's future, along with energy advancements like wind and solar that he hopes to see installed at the county golf course.
"I would also like to focus on further development of parks and recreation facilities, continuing the strides we made last year at the Pinconning County Park.
The county is awaiting a report from a consulting firm on an actuarial study to see if some senior county employees can be offered buyouts. That plan is eyed to reduce costs and meet budgetary requirements, said County Executive Thomas L. Hickner.
Commissioners recently adopted a balanced budget calling for general fund revenues of $32,429,956 from property taxes, state & federal grants, fees, etc. Expenditures are estimated at $33,411,699
million, with salaries, wages and fringes making up 63 percent of the total.
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The budget shortfall will be financed from a transfer from the General Fund fund balance of $981,743.
The transfer from fund Balance assumes that $524,200 in debt service for the court facility will be paid with excess general fund reserves, said Mr. Hickner. Over last 18 years are GF fund balance has increased significantly, from about $2.1 million as of 12-31-1992 to $9.6 million as of 12-31-2009.
Remaining use of fund balance ($457,543) will be reduced when additional budget cuts are adopted this year.
Mr. Hickner recommended no wage increases in 2011 and 2012. He said the need to reduce expenses is evident from several indicators. 1-Property tax collections are estimated at $16 million, down from $16.7 million last year and other revenues are declining.
For example, he pointed to investment income that totaled $1 million in 2000 and has dropped to $155,000 in 2010 because of lower interest rates.
Expenditures should be reduced by 2 percent per year for 2011 and 2012, Mr. Hickner said in a summary of recommendations. Cuts should be shared equally by large budget groups, he added.
Government Article 5538
Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
(Contact Dave Via Email at email@example.com)
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