Budget will reflect state’s financial woes

Published 5:10 am Saturday, April 8, 2006

By By JOHN EBY / Niles Daily Star
CASSOPOLIS – Cass County Commissioner David Taylor began Thursday night's meeting with the arrest of a Homeland Security Department official accused of being an Internet sexual predator in remarks that concluded with analysis of state fiscal woes.
Taylor, D-Edwardsburg, also introduced 2006-07 expense guidelines commissioners approved.
"Even with the use of $530,230 from the Delinquent Tax Revolving Fund balance and $453,410 from the General Fund balance, the estimated 2006-07 General Fund revenue is less than what it is this year," Taylor said.
"Actual General Fund expense and transfers out for 2005 – nine months – were $9,799,910. This can be annualized by dividing by nine months and multiplying by 12. The result is $13,066,548, which is nearly the same as the 2006-07 revenue estimate of $12,992,874."
"Therefore," Taylor continued, (County Administrator Terry Proctor) recommends that this Board of Commissioners give elected officials, department heads and agency directors the following guidelines" in preparing their 2006-07 budget requests:
Submit a general fund expense budget request on/or before May 4 that does not exceed the level of annualized 2005 expenses.
It is expected that meeting this guideline will require reductions in personnel costs, increases in revenue and changes in how business is done from this year.
"I learned in Lansing (March 27) that the St. Clair County Jail increased its capacity from 200 to 430 on Jan. 1 of this year and it's already full."
"Finally," the attorney said, "I prepare tax returns. Last week I did a Michigan tax return from two retirees who no longer pay any Michigan income tax on $89,500 of retirement income. If you were a working person with two small children, he and his wife would pay $2,945 in Michigan taxes on similar income.
"My point is that our state tax system is so riddled with loopholes that there's little question why we're facing a fiscal crisis in Michigan government. It has little to do with economic conditions and more to do with misplaced tax breaks."