By Natalie Sejnost
Clinton Chronicle Staff Writer
Bringing in the New Year means a new budget for Clinton County. The County announced their fiscal year 2012 Budget claiming that it will maintain core services in each department.
The office of administrative services said that although some areas of the budget are not funded at their optimal levels, it is structurally sound and practical. They continued to say that this budget is practical considering the current economic state of the county and its citizens.
The 2012 budget in its entirety totals $38.2 million, while the general fund budget will total $20.9 million. In 2011, the general fund was $1.1 million more than this year’s budget. That is a five percent reduction from the previous year. This reduction will not impact the 2012 millage rate as confirmed by the Clinton County Board of Commissioners.
Michigan’s weak economy has caused a decline in property values throughout the county. The budget stated that this is the third successive year the tax has decreased. It also said that this decrease could become even greater as decisions regarding property tax appeals become known.
“Michigan’s economy has taken a toll in many ways and the property tax is just one of them,” said Clinton County resident Brian Kelly.
Clinton County residents wondering how the budget will affect them personally should take notice of the salary and wages increase for the 2012-year. The county employee staff has been dwindling since 2008. With the current financial status of the county being precarious, employees will not receive an increase in their salaries or wages this year. The one exception to this is 911 dispatch union employees of the county, who will receive a 1 percent increase.
“It’s definitely upsetting to know that people who have been working for the county for years aren’t able to be rewarded for their hard work,” said Clinton County resident Jim Siegel, “The economy is doing us no favors, and that’s apparent in this years budget,” said Siegel.
The budget report addressed some future considerations for the county that could impact the citizens as soon as 2015. The first of these considerations would be the elimination of the personal property tax. Government officials stated that currently, the personal property tax produces over $700,000 each year. According to the officials, the only way the county would eradicate the entire program is if they were not able to generate revenue from another source. Another future consideration addressed in the budget is ramifications from mortgage foreclosures. Government officials of the county forecast that there would be a cutback in taxable value, and it would end in the year 2012. The more recent projections, courtesy of the Clinton County budget show that these cutbacks will continue throughout 2013 until 2015. Government officials stress that it is important for the county to prepare for this decline if in fact it lasts longer than the projected date.