County officials approve 2017 budget

REED CITY – Funding for Osceola County’s services and operations for 2017 has been set.

Osceola County Commissioners approved the the $21 million expenditure budget and its corresponding appropriations during their Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 1, at the Osceola County Courthouse.

The budget process has gone on for the last few months. The initial budget came in at just above $2 million more in expenditures than revenue. However, the approved budget indicates a balance between expenditures and revenue.

“I see the budget as a living document that is always changing,” said Sue Vander Pol, county coordinator. “You’re always going in and adding here and giving here and taking away there. We’re always doing adjustments for benefits as well.”

Vander Pol noted the 2017 general fund is only $3,000 more than what the current year’s budget allotted.

“We’re seeing that happen in a lot of places,” she said. “Like us, others are generally having a flat budget over the last couple of years.”

In other action from Tuesday’s committee meeting, officials approved up to $6,250 in additional funding from the Probate Court’s fund for court appointed attorneys to be transferred to the Mecosta/Osceola Youth Attention Center. The center, which is funded every fiscal year by a state and federal grant, did not receive a $25,000 federal grant this year and faced a funding shortfall.

“It put us at a deficit,” said director Amy Eddinger. “In trying to figure out how to serve the youth of both counties and still keep employees, I was able to come up with all of the shortfall except salary and fringe benefits. No grants can pay for those.”

Kaye Frederick, Probate Court administrator, told commissioners there is enough in the current calendar year court appointed attorneys budget line item to cover Eddinger’s request.

“In looking at the current budget, we currently have $38,000 in that line item,” she said. “I believe we would not hurt or short our current budget if we took that $6,250 from the $38,000 from my budget.

“My probation officers are busy to the max right now,” Frederick added. “Any prevention services we can do now is obviously a savings to the county.”

Commissioners also approved the following items on Tuesday:

n a one-year extension for the Emergency Medical Services Evart Area Joint Fire Board lease, so EMS can be located in Evart. The agreement will cost $900 per month, EMS Director Jeremy Beebe told officials;

n an additional mental health rider for the Osceola County Jail at a cost of $10,566 annually. Jail administrator Russ Wayne explained to the board the contract calls for a mental health professional to be in the jail for four hours per week. Currently, mental health professionals are present only when there is an emergency need for one.

Items approved during the Committee of the Whole then were approved by officials during the Board of Commissioners meeting.

Additionally, the board also approved the formal purchase of in-car and body cameras from Digital Ally for the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office for $44,769, with $16,500 coming from a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and $15,500 coming from a Major Maintenance Reserve Account grant, leaving the cost for the county to be $12,769.

The next Committee of the Whole meeting for Osceola County commissioners is scheduled for 9:30 a.m., Tuesday, Nov. 15, with the board of commissioners meeting to follow.