Policy aims at strong reserve

Published 12:34 am Saturday, May 7, 2005

By By JOHN EBY / Niles Daily Star
CASSOPOLIS - For the first time, Cass County has a written policy governing its delinquent tax revolving fund.
County commissioners Thursday night also adopted a plan for how it will be applied to capital and operating expenses in 2005-06.
A motion offered by Commissioner Dale Lowe, R-Niles, distributes $600,000 to replace jail equipment, $310,380 to cover Law and Courts Building debt and interest, $154,500 to pay Law and Courts Building maintenance and utilities and $46,000 for Treasurer Linda Irwin's office.
A five-member Ad Hoc Budget and Capital Improvement Committee has been meeting regularly with County Administrator Terry Proctor.
The policy proposed by Vice Chairman Ron Francis, R-Cassopolis, reflects those meetings.
The county treasurer stopped issuing tax notes in 2003. Today, a portion of the reserve is spent to "purchase" delinquent taxes each year from local governmental units.
The delinquent tax revolving fund "shall maintain such reserves as are required to maintain a continual self-funded state," according to the policy. "The county has used delinquent tax revolving fund retained earnings over the years primarily for capital purposes and the operating costs of the Law and Courts Building. The delinquent tax revolving fund shall continue to be used in a similar manner."
A third point in the policy states, "Balances of the major funds are looked at by the bond rating agencies to determine the credit worthiness of the county government. The delinquent tax revolving fund shall maintain at least $3 million of audited unreserved retained earnings unpledged to maintain a high credit rating and to provide a reserve for emergencies."
In response to a question from Commissioner Terri Kitchen, R-Silver Creek Township, Proctor said a 20-year bond issue built the Law and Courts Building, with debt service starting in 2002.
Proctor set up those tours with the sheriff for May 16 at 3 p.m. or May 31 at 5 p.m. for the remaining 10 commissioners.
County auction at
fairgrounds June 4
Commissioners approved Sheriff Joe Underwood's request to hold a county auction of surplus and forfeited property on Saturday, June 4, at the Cass County Fairgrounds in Cassopolis.
Commissioners also approved a $308.03 budget transfer Proctor recommended. The board bought a John Deere lawn mower at the Dec. 16, 2004, meeting. The mower's price increased between July 2004 when the budget was prepared and the purchase five months later.