2016 Clinton County budget spends more on public safety and recreation, less on administration and economic development

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By Liam Tiernan
Clinton County Chatter Staff Reporter

Clinton County’s 2016 administrative budget contains reductions to administrative service expenditures and community & economic development, as well as increases in funding to recreation and public safety.

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Public safety expenditures are gaining $200,000 more funding than they did in 2014, increasing to $7,354,104 from $7,154,290. Recreation funding was increased to $165,368 from $149,939 in 2014.

Clinton County Clerk’s office administrator Jenny Schmidt explains, “The increases to recreation funding are intended to help towns that thrive on out-of-town visitors such as St. Johns continue to do so.

“The big change this year was the public safety budget. The majority of the complaints the Board of Commissioners has received over the past few years have been public safety issues like water quality, rain drainage in the streets, health codes, stuff like that. The extra funding is to hopefully answer some of those concerns.”

Administrative service funding was decreased to $465,887 from 2014’s $481,320 and the community & economic development funding for 2016 rests at $391,100, down from $453,201 in 2014.

“To be honest, administrative funding cuts have been happening for a lot longer than three years.” Continued Schmidt. “Administrative budget is spent on things like record keeping and mail delivery, and some aspects of a county’s administrative duties, especially mail, are getting phased out slowly all around the country.”

The cuts also appear to be a necessity for Clinton County, who project in the 2016 budget that Clinton County may receive almost $3 million less in total funding than they did in 2014 and $4 million less than in 2015.

“Numbers tell a story, and when those numbers involve money, you can write a novel out of what they tell you,” said an economist at the University of Chicago, David Galenson.

“When an institution, especially a government institution, is given fewer total dollars to work with than they have had in previous years, almost always the first reaction is to lay off personnel.” Said Galenson. “After that, the next thing to be cut is generally research and development.”

Clinton County’s reaction to the reduced budget ceiling is almost identical to the situation Galenson describes, with the major cuts landing on administrative staff and community development.

“Of course I’m thrilled about the money going into public safety and recreation,” said Donna Tillman, a florist in Bath Township. “Money going into the tourism industry is what keeps this shop alive. Public safety is what keeps my employees healthy.

With the economy the way it is, I’m not surprised that they had to make cuts. I think they made the right decision when they took that money out of administration. The public should always come first.”

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