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Board looks to trim $700k from 2013 budget

By Erich T. Doerr

After completing its business in the regular Board of Commissioners and Committee of the Whole meetings last week the Clare County board staying in attendance for an initial meeting regarding its 2013 budget.

While no decisions were set in the stone the committee reviewed several potential changes for next year. County Administrator Tracy Byard presented the proposed budget.

“I wanted to give you a base,” Byard said, noting several things weren’t factored in yet including drug forfeitures and liability insurance for the airport.

The 2013 budget is going to be a key one for the county with the board noting it needs to trim $700,000 from its costs. Board chairman Don David added they still had several major things they needed to look at including Clare being the last county in Michigan that still needs to draw up a new contract  when hiring new employees.

Much of the requested funding discussed during the meeting concerned computer updates including a $15,000 request from the Circuit Court for a state-required upgrade to their AS/400 system. IT director Jim Neff made a request for $63,000 for Net Motion, Advance Authentication and Email Archiving noting Net Motion is a secured communication from mobile devices back to the county and Advance Authentication is a requirement from the Michigan State Police for Lien usage. According to paperwork at the meeting the Net Motion and Advance Authentication must be purchased together and one is not going to work without the other.

Neff also requested an additional $5,000 in funding for training.

“I believe if we want him to stay current in his certification that is something we need to look at,” Byard said, noting she was considering cutting the request from $5,000 to $3,500.

The longest discussion during the meeting was about emergency management which according to the paperwork submitted two budgets with one for part time and another for full time as they look for an increase of $17,820. According to David the money is not for wage increases but to provide benefits to those involved such as director Jerry Becker.

“He puts in on average 60 hours a week,” David said of Becker. “He has absolutely no health insurance.”

“Emergency management isn’t going to go away,” added board member Jerome Burger. “It’s only going to get bigger.”

For animal control there was a proposal of replacing a vacant full-time officer and a vacant part-time office and kennel worker with two part-time employees which it is believed would save about $11,800. Board Vice Chair Jack Kleinhardt praised the proposal for animal control’s willingness to cut costs.

Not everything considered is likely to be funded. Amongst the items that could be cut was a proposal to purchase two new $500 picture frames for displaying judges portraits in the circuit court, members of the board noted items like that traditionally aren’t covered in their budget.

The parks and recreation department also requested an additional $1,393 mostly for wages which was noted in the paperwork wasn’t for raises but instead to cover not budgeting enough for the 2012 fiscal year or factoring in the costs of the extra day for leap year. Kleinhardt said the issue would need to be weighted against priorities during further discussions.