Macomb proposes ’17 budget with 2 new judges, road work

Nicquel Terry
The Detroit News

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel rolled out a proposed 2017 budget that includes funding for two more circuit court judges, road and bridge repairs and a countywide court e-filing system.

The $733 million spending plan is Hackel’s sixth consecutive balanced budget and allows for a fund balance to cover a five-year capital plan that addresses infrastructure upgrades and replacements.

The proposed general fund totals $242.1 million with nearly $117 million coming from property tax revenues.

State and federal funds — including money that supports community health and roads — account for the rest of the budget, officials say.

“We are in a sound financial position,” Chief Deputy Executive Mark Deldin said.

He said the county has focused on reducing the amount of money for line items where budgeted funds are not all spent and using that money for other services in need.

Hackel’s budget proposal will be presented to the county Board of Commissioners on Tuesday.

The board will spend the next two months listening to presentations from county departments on their budgetary needs. The budget must be finalized by December.

County officials budgeted for a “very aggressive road replacement project” at a cost of $47 million, Deldin said. State funding will allow workers to resurface roads throughout the county, he said.

Among the road projects funded are to replace seven bridges, build a roundabout at 25 Mile and Rome Plank, widen 23 Mile from North Avenue to Fairchild, reconstruct and widen a roundabout on Romeo Plank between 21 Mile and 23 Mile, pave and resurface portions of Fairchild and Hayes, and reconstruct and widen North from M-59 to 21 Mile.

There will be no layoffs in this budget, officials say. The general fund accounts for 14.2 new positions with 10 of those related to new judgeships, Finance Director Stephen Smigiel said.

The cost of all positions related to the new judgeships is $698,417 and $91,448 of that is funded by the state.

Another 74.2 positions will be funded by other sources, including 58.2 at the Martha T. Berry Medical Care Facility to reduce the number of contingent part-time and agency staff, according to the budget.

Deldin said county employees received a 2 percent raise in the 2016 budget which was the first pay increase in nine years. The 2017 proposed budget provides for another 2 percent raise, pending union negotiations, he said.

Hackel noted in a letter to the board that the budget also provides funding for debt service on bonds used to fund the county’s retiree health care liability. The county issued $263.5 million in bonds in March 2015.

Other highlights from the budget include an expanded Meals of Wheels program and a nurse-family partnership program.

“I think it’s important to note that the budget is structurally balanced,” Smigiel said. “But it needs to be monitored closely going forward.”

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Twitter: @NicquelTerry