Kent County budgets for capital improvements


The Kent County Finance Committee is beginning its annual effort to whittle down $10.8 million worth of requests for capital improvement projects to a more affordable $4 million, which will make up next year’s CIP budget.

Each year, county department heads are asked to list and price their capital improvement needs for the committee to review and the full commission to approve.

This year, 52 requests were made at a cost of $10.8 million.

But before the list makes it to either body, a panel comprised of administrators and a few managers will make their recommendations known to the Finance Committee.

Funding criteria

One of the criteria used to select projects is whether any outside money, such as grants, is available to pay for at least a portion of a request. Only the Parks Department meets that criterion, and it has three on its list that total $510,000.

Another criterion is whether a requested project will provide the county with a return on investment.

The county has about $4 million available for the CIP budget. That’s roughly the amount of revenue that comes from the 0.20 mills Kent sets aside from its operating millage for improvements.

That figure might be increased to about $4.8 million, because County Fiscal Services Director Stephen Duarte said his office may ask for 0.25 mills to be set aside, which would add another $800,000 or so to the budget.

“We’ll be making a recommendation to (County Administrator and Controller) Daryl (Delabbio) next week,” said County Budget Director Marvin Van Nortwick.

On the CIP list is a request for $1.1 million to pay the annual debt service for the upgrades the county made to the Fuller Avenue Campus, beginning in 2008. Commissioner Jim Talen pointed out the payment is a quarter of the entire CIP budget and asked if it could be covered under another fund.

“It’s ‘pay me here or pay me there.’ It’s the same number we’re talking about,” said Duarte.

Commissioner Carol Hennessey asked if revenue from the corrections millage could be used to pay for some of the jail improvements on the CIP list, which also would free up more cash for the requests. But Duarte said the $15 million the millage generates each year is already spent.

Health department clinics

Members of the Finance Committee also are expected to be getting an update on the county’s attempt to consolidate its Wyoming and Kentwood health department clinics into one location from Assistant County Administrator Wayman Britt.

The county wants to relocate the clinics in the former Kentwood Public Library, at 4700 Kalamazoo Ave. SE.

Kentwood is asking $300,000 for the vacant 16,000-square-foot building that sits on 6.5 acres of land.

Britt said Kentwood commissioners support the county’s effort and have extended the purchase agreement until July 12 and also set a closing date for July 31.

“It appears we have an additional $20,000 from private foundations,” said Britt to the county Executive Committee.

Britt said the project was still short of reaching its monetary goal of $520,000, but he added that Michigan Community Dental Clinics, which is expected to lease space in the consolidated clinic, will likely make a contribution to the project.

After he meets with the committee this week, Britt said he will go before the full commission next week with a recommendation.

The current Kentwood health department clinic is at 1620 44th St. SW, while the one in Wyoming is at 852 47th St. SW. 

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