Commissioners approve public hearing times

REED CITY — Osceola County commissioners set public hearing times for a U.S. Department of Agriculture Block Grant for the Commission on Aging and the 2017 budget during their Committee of a Whole on Wednesday, Oct. 5.

The hearing for the block grant from the USDA is set for 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 18, in the commissioners’ meeting room.

The grant would be used to help with the proposed rehabilitation project at the congregate meal site in Marion. Officials are looking at fixing up the building purchased to serve as a site for meals and activities for seniors. A block grant is a financial aid package that grants federal money to state and local governments for use in social welfare programs.

The public will have a chance to have their say on the proposed 2017 budget at the public hearing, set for 9:40 a.m. on Oct. 18.

Commissioners had their first look at the proposed $21.782 million budget for the new year. County Coordinator Sue Vander Pol told commissioners the process to get to the final number included finding ways to address an initial $2 million deficit in order to get to a final, balanced projection.

“It was a tad bit challenging,” she said. “There is some creative financing designed in the use of some funds.”

Vander Pol explained while commissioners have been very conservative in past budgets, costs have continued to rise while revenues have not.

“The board may want to look at some of the fees that are in place,” she said. “Some of them haven’t been changed in 10 years.”

The proposed budget is available online at the county’s website or at the county clerk’s office.

The committee also approved the following items:

  • the contract between the Commission on Aging and Keeping the Memory Alive LLC for the holiday event on Dec. 14 at the Osceola County 4-H/FFA Fairgrounds in Evart;
  • an additional $2,000 in funding from the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan for the COA;
  • closure of the county’s main building/courthouse and annex building from noon to 2 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 9, for the staff holiday celebration;
  • the 2017 Emergency Medical Services plan presented by EMS Director Jeremy Beebe. By using the last three years of data, Beebe recommended the first half of 2017, the Marion base personnel would be assigned 24-hour shifts, while the Tustin base would run on 12-hour shifts. In the second half of the year, personnel in Marion would have 12-hour shifts, and the those at the Tustin base would work 24-hour shifts; and
  • a one-year contract extension for Big Rapids Professional Office Cleaning at a cost of $38,400 to provide cleaning services for county buildings.

Items approved by the Committee of the Whole later was approved by the board of commissioners.

The next Osceola County Committee of the Whole meeting is set for 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 18, in the commissioner’s room.