Cass County adopts nine-month budget; part of move to new Oct. 1-Sept. 30 fiscal year

Published 9:10 am Monday, November 29, 2004

By By JOHN EBY / Niles Daily Star
CASSOPOLIS - Cass County commissioners Nov. 18 adopted a 2005 budget for $10.78 million for a nine-month fiscal year from Jan. 1 to Sept. 30.
The transitional spending plan is part of the county's move of its fiscal year from the calendar to the state's Oct. 1-Sept. 30 cycle.
The 2005 fiscal year begins Jan. 1, 2005, and ends Sept. 30, 2005.
The 2006 fiscal year runs Oct. 1, 2005-Sept. 30, 2006.
When property taxes are collected this winter, a third is destined for deposit in a new state revenue sharing reserve fund.
The new budget increases elected officials' salaries, makes Drain Commissioner Jeff VanBelle fulltime and rewards non-union salaries with 3-percent raises.
The budget proposed by County Administrator Terry L. Proctor also funds a Web site developer and an economic development program.
Cass County government should conduct a lot more business than it does over the Internet, Proctor said Oct. 12. One of the best opportunities is putting data from the Registry of Deeds on the World Wide Web.
Economic development means jobs and improved incomes for county residents. County economic development must include retaining successful businesses, attracting desirable employers and nurturing start-ups, so this budget funds an economic developer position or contract.
County employee benefits are more generous than those of the private sector, but are competitive with public-sector county employers.
Under capital improvements, replacement Sheriff's Office vehicles, a replacement Maintenance Department truck, a replacement Animal Control Department truck and a replacement Friend of the Court warrant officer car are budgeted in the Motor Pool Fund and leased back to the departments.
A Maintenance Department lawn mower/snow blower is budgeted in the Capital Outlay Department of the General Fund.
Other capital improvements, such as video arraignment and replacement of jail equipment, will have to be funded using the Delinquent Tax Revolving Fund or borrowing.
Commissioners selected Rehmann Robson Inc. as county auditors for the financial periods ending Dec. 31, Sept. 30, 2005, and Sept. 30, 2006, for which the firm will be paid $27,500 this year, $27,600 next year and $27,700 for 2006.
Cass County expects its share of cigarette tax revenue to be $36,086, which will be spent 12/17ths, or $25,472, as an additional appropriation to the Van Buren-Cass District Health Department, and 5/17ths, or $10,614 for jail operations.
Cass County also anticipates $83,721 from convention taxes which may be used to reduce property taxes or for general county operations.
Commissioners chose the latter for half the amount. The other $41,860 will be appropriated to substance abuse programs.