Erich T. Doerr | Review Correspondent
The Clare County Boards of Commissioners granted its approval to its 2012-13 budget on Wednesday in a special meeting.
According to Commissioner Jim Gelios the meeting contained a public hearing on the issue and lasted about three hours including other business.
Gelios added many of the actual decisions for the budget took place at a special budget-only meeting last Friday so as to be ready for Wednesday’s hearing. He added there was much discussion over ‘what to do, what to ok and what to cut.’
“There were still some issues and cuts had to be made,” Gelios said. “We had to have a special meeting to finalize the budget.”
One of the biggest items on the chopping block was the Parks and Recreation department which had requested $21,000 for next year’s budget. While it didn’t make it through unscathed the department is going to receive money for next year, Gelios said after cuts the department would be receiving $11,000 instead.
“The board decided they wanted to keep Parks and Recreation and fund it,” Gelios said.
According to Gelios the cuts are likely going to mean reduced hours for Clare County Parks and Recreation Director Don Kolander. He did feel that Kolander would almost certainly still be working on his projects.
“He’s a good guy for that position but what do you cut,” Gelios said, noting the decision to cut the $10,000 was not an easy one.
One of the biggest changes made to the budget was the approval of full funding for the anti-drug Bayonet program by cutting funding for amongst other things some equipment requests by the county’s Sheriff’s department. According to Gelios the narcotics program’s duties include cleaning up meth labs when they are located. He added the program costs about $54,000 of which $10,000 is funded through grants.
“That’s what I was aiming for,” Gelios said, having previously lobbied for funding the program at last week’s meeting. “We needed Bayonet.”
Gelios added one item that was not funded at this time was a district court item for a recovery program intended to keep those previously convicted from reoffending. Gelios said district court Judge Joshua Farrell came in to the meeting Wednesday to argue for the program, a joint Clare County and Gladwin County effort, but did so after the budget had already been approved without its funding. Despite this the program may not be dead just yet.
“We’ll bring it up at the next board meeting,” Gelios said, believing the program could save on the number of incarcerations.
According to Gelios the figures approved during Wednesday’s meeting are the projections for the coming year and as such they could require adjustment later.
“Hopefully the money comes in to pay the bills,” Gelios said. “In the meantime we’ll still be looking to make cuts.”