Commissioners request release of grant funds
REED CITY — The Osceola County Board of Commissioners approved a letter to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and state legislators requesting the state reinstate several grant funding items that were part of the governor's line item vetoes back in October.
"If the budget proceeds as is, the loss to Osceola County totals approximately $218,000 in budget cuts," the letter states.
"That's an extra $218,000 for the county," County Coordinator Susan Vander Pol said. "That may not seem like much to some areas, but that's four county positions for us."
It's frustrating when the state mandates implementation and expansion of certain programs with the promise of grant funding to pay for it, then the funding is pulled, Vander Pol explained.
"People are employed and sent to training, they are invested, and then the state pulls the funding," she said. "These are grant employees and under the county policies and procedures, when the grant money goes away, those positions go away, and we're the ones who have to look at those employees and tell them they no longer have a job."
The letter requests the leadership of the state House and Senate "set aside their differences and get back to the table to solve the financial issues regarding local government funding."
"It's really difficult being a pawn in the state budget and we are in limbo because they talk about giving the money back, but they haven't done it yet," Vander Pol said.
The loss of $218,000 from the county budget will result in layoffs and will eliminate or reduce programs and services because Osceola County does not have sufficient reserves to absorb a loss of revenue of that magnitude, the letter says.
Funding losses for the county as a result of the vetoes include the Secondary Road Patrol Grant, which pays for an additional sheriff's deputy; the Veteran's Services Grant, which funds veteran's services employees; PILT funds, Swamp Tax reimbursements and jail reimbursements.
Sheriff Ed Williams told the board the Michigan's Sheriff's Association has two line items going back through the process — the road patrol grant and the state inmate pretransfer reimbursement fund.
"Those are still moving forward and there is every indication they will get approved, but it takes months for that to happen," he said.
In other business, the board approved the salary classification for undersheriff Mark Moore at level 13, step 7, effective Nov. 17, with a step increase in February on his anniversary date.
Moore has worked for the Osceola County Sheriff's department for 20 years and was appointed to undersheriff in November.
"We're getting a person who is going to devote more time to this position than what he will be getting paid for," Williams said.
The board also approved the appointment of Jodi Gabert and Julie Seguin to the board of canvassers as Democratic appointments. Gabert will serve a two-year term ending in October 2021, and Seguin will serve a four-year term ending in October 2023.
Osceola County Clerk Karen Bluhm said they needed to appoint two new members because of recent departures.
The next meeting of the board of commissioners will be at 9:30 a.m., Tuesday, Dec. 3. There will be a public hearing at the beginning of the meeting regarding changing the road commission board to an appointed position.