Capital News Service

of the Michigan State University School of Journalism

Counties push to maintain public services

By PAIGE LaBARGE
Capital News Service

LANSING— Despite tough economic times and cutbacks in public services, some counties are managing to find money to maintain projects that help keep the quality of Michigan high.

The Michigan Association of Counties (MAC) 2011 legislative priorities list forecasts what issues many come up and how the association will handle them, according to Angela Minicuci, communication coordinator.

According to the list, MAC will push the state to maintain a variety of programs like the County Jail Reimbursement Program for jails that house state prisoners. Another priority is to maintain quality roads by giving county boards the option of districting county road commissioners.

“This will help to save the state a lot of money and will also keep in mind the quality of transportation and the environment,” Minicuci said.

Other priorities cover economic development and taxation, the court system and public safety, health and human services, transportation and environmental issues.

Gov. Rick Snyder’s 2011-12 budget proposal also calls for a new incentive-based revenue sharing program for cities, villages, counties and townships.

Minicuci said that revenue sharing and unfunded mandates –- state requirements –- are the most important factors in setting county priorities because they always affect the budget, according to Minicuci.

Cameron Habermehl, chair of the Alpena County Board of Commissioners, said that his employees are working the proposed new revenue sharing allocation into their projects.

“County revenue sharing faces a 30 to 33 percent cut, which will really change our number of staff members,” Habermehl said. “We will have to go through our own budget and make fair cuts across the board in order to maintain projects we are working on and stay with the new proposal limits.”

Jim O’Donnell, the Marquette County building official, said that the county is  not affected by any budget changes at the moment.

“Marquette County is still supporting new construction of condos and a boardwalk on Lake Superior,” O’Donnell said.

© 2011, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism. Not to be reproduced without permission.

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