Traverse City Record-Eagle

June 26, 2013

Financial stability key to GT County goals

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Grand Traverse County’s new, three-year strategic plan largely revolves around balancing the county’s ledger.

Maintaining financial strength and stability topped the list of seven goals determined by county commissioners in a 2013-16 strategic plan.

“If we can do that, we can do everything else,” commission Chairman Herb Lemcool said.

The county’s general fund budget totals about $37 million and its overall budget about $150 million. County officials estimate a $1 million shortfall in the county’s 2014 budget.

Closing that gap generally requires reducing expenditures or increasing revenues, county Administrator Dave Benda said.

The strategic plan specifically recommends, among other measures, reviewing county services and evaluating what is mandated, what should be continued and what should be cut. The plan also calls for creation of three-year operating and capital budgets

“There’s different ways to balance a budget and we’ll probably use a combination of all of them,” Benda said.

County department heads will submit their budgets to Benda by September. Benda will compile the department budgets into an overall budget recommendation for the commission. Commissioners usually approve a final budget by late October or early November.

Other goals in the strategic plan include expanding technology use, possibly by charging fees for online transactions to underwrite a technology budget; ensuring county employees receive fair compensation, in part by launching a new wage study; and addressing infrastructure needs.

County commissioners likely will vote on final approval of the strategic plan at a commission meeting this month.