Cass adopts $13.1 million budget

By By JOHN EBY / Niles Daily Star
CASSOPOLIS -- Cass County commissioners usually say, "Amen!" when the arduous annual budget process is complete, their spending plan adopted for the coming year.
But with the state's continued precarious financial position that downgraded its bond rating and doom and gloom revenue sharing doubts cast over the county process, in 2004 commissioners are expected to exclaim "Amend!"
Repeatedly.
As part of balancing the $13,151,373.50 general fund budget adopted Thursday at the Edward Lowe Center for the Council on Aging, County Administrator Terry L. Proctor said, "We went back to the elected officials, department heads and judges and asked them to study carefully how they might be able to help increase revenues or decrease costs.
Proctor acknowledged the "very difficult period that we're in, from the beginning of this budget process back in June right through this evening, and 2005 right now doesn't look any better at all. This is the second year of the difficult budgeting period; 2003 was the first one."
The fiscal predicament means "we have to maintain our flexibility," Proctor cautioned commissioners. "As we get more information, and we're able to have discussions with our employee groups, we'll be bringing that feedback back to the board. Many times, because it's collective bargaining, it will be in closed sessions. There's a closed session for that purpose on the agenda this evening. We're going to have to be flexible because we are going to have to amend this brand-new budget as we go along. Please be aware of that.
"We're going to have to continue the staffing -- whether positions that are funded this evening will actually be able to be filled in the year starting in January. That's the reality that we're facing. We just have to stay flexible and realize that as the state and others change our world, we will have to change this budget to reflect that."

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