Traverse City Record-Eagle


February 19, 2014

GT County reviews departments

TRAVERSE CITY — Grand Traverse County’s drain commissioner and parks department are next on tap for commissioners’ county-wide review of expenses and services.

The implications of each department’s review could be major, as board members pledged to substantially reduce county expenses when they passed an 11th-hour, 2014 budget that included a $1 million structural deficit.

“There is a lot at stake,” said Parks and Recreation Director Jason Jones.

Drain Commissioner Kevin McElyea will have about 20 minutes to outline his department’s costs and services to the commission during a meeting today, while Jones is slated for about 45 minutes, county records show.

Jones said he’ll likely have more time than that, but he’s still worried his presentation will be cut short.

“It’s going to entirely depend on how the commissioners react and how the commissioners ask questions,” Jones said. “If they start asking questions throughout the presentation, as we’ve seen them do in the past, I probably won’t get through my presentation.”

Jones said he has nine different “budget centers” in his department, and he intends to address revenues and expenses for each. Other departments, like the drain commissioner’s, include only one budget area.

McElyea could not be reached for comment.

Geographical Information Systems Department Director Ernest Cacciaglia said a similarly short presentation window wasn’t a problem for his department.

“We’re a really small department, so it doesn’t take much time for us to convey or budget,” Cacciaglia said.

Commissioners sent department heads a list of nine questions to answer during presentations, including how many residents their department serves and at what cost, and how a general fund budget reduction would impact their department.

Jones said the commission should have valuable information about county-wide services after every department head answers the questions.

“If each of the departments follows through and answers the questions as listed, it should give the commissioners a good apples-to-apples comparison,” he said.

Commission Chair Herb Lemcool said last week board members will make their decision on what cuts — if any — to implement after the individual department reviews conclude.

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