September 19, 2014

County officials say reductions may continue in light of proposal defeats

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ARENAC COUNTY — Arenac County voters rejected two county proposals during the Nov. 2 general election, and county officials say some county programs may have to be reduced in light of those rejections.

County voters defeated the first proposal, which was a renewal of an operating millage that would have provided funds for Arenac County and the Bay-Arenac Intermediate School District, 3,421 to 2,034. The second proposal, which was a proposal to levy 0.1 mills for a period of the next five years for operating, maintaining, and improving of the county parks, was defeated 3,166 to 1,961.

Regarding the first proposal, Arenac County Treasurer Dennis Stawowy said it would have brought the county back up to a full millage collection, and would have made up for the Headlee rollbacks. He also said the proposal would have meant about $165,000 in revenue for the county if it had passed.

Stawowy said some county programs might have to be cut back since the millage has been turned down.

“The things that we do that aren’t ordered by the state of Michigan might be curtailed,” he said. “They may be open less.”

Stawowy said those departments that might be affected are: building, housing, the public guardian, and health department.

Arenac County Commissioner Michael Snyder said he also expects some programs to be cut as a result of the proposal’s defeat.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed,” he said. “Our hope was that with these revenues we could stay even. We’ll have to continue on our reducing ways.”

Snyder also said the proposal’s rejection might have an effect on the county’s negotiations with its labor unions.

“We are in the process of negotiating with all six of our unions,” he said. “Obviously, the loss of any revenue will be reflected in our labor costs. To what extent, I couldn’t tell you.”

Snyder said he does not expect the county to put a similar millage on the ballot anytime in the future.

“It’s pretty clear the community feels the funds are not needed,” he said. “I think that the voters have spoken loudly. I think it would be a significant amount of time before we put those on the ballot.”

Regarding the parks proposal, Stawowy said the millage would have raised $55,000 for the county’s parks and recreation department. He said that as a result of that proposal’s defeat, the department would not be able to purchase any new items, but would be able to repair any current items that are broken.

“They will be able to operate at the status quo,” he said.

Snyder said the department would have to look at another sort of revenue stream to offset the proposal’s defeat.

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