Grand Traverse County Commissioners to Discuss Budget Surplus

More than $2 million extra in Grand Traverse County’s funds. Now, commissioners are discussing what to do with it.

The numbers from 2017 show Grand Traverse County is in a better position financially than they expected, and there are several options of how this money can be used.

“Our revenues came in higher than what was budgeted and our expenditures were less than what we budgeted,” explained county finance director, Dean Bott.

At the end of 2017, the county’s fund balance was $11.9 million.

“We are required per our policies to have 15 percent of our budget in fund balance,” Carol Crawford, Grand Traverse County chairwoman said.

After that 15 percent and money set aside for loans, the county has $2.7 million to work with.

“Some of it is due to good financial management, good changes, some restructuring that happened, some of it is due to that, some of it is due to good budgeting,” explained Carol.

After a recommendation by the county management team, commissioners will decide what to do with that money.

Options include employee raises, addressing the mental health problems at the jail and paying down pension debt.

“We’ve paid a lot on the pension debt in the past 12 months. We paid our regular payment, last year we paid an extra payment last year of $5.6 million, this year we’ve already paid our $5.9 million that we’ve agreed to,” said Carol.

Commissioners and residents are optimistic for the future.

“I think that they should probably pay some of towards the pension,” said Fran Merrell. “Also, as far as raises for employees, I would want to look at the history and see how are they being paid now. Is it comparable or not?”

Bott says, “There’s a lot that they need to consider. I think the board has always been fiscally very responsible and this is just a good situation to be in.”

Commissioners will discuss their options at their meeting Wednesday night.