County Could Lose 1Million In Cut

    GRAND RAPIDS — It’s quite possible that Gov. John Engler will call for the state’s general budget to be cut by 5 percent to 10 percent.

    The slice would be across-the-board, and the governor could issue an executive order mandating the cutback after lawmakers leave Lansing, but before he leaves office.

    David Haynes, partner in Lansing lobbyists Public Affairs Associates Inc., broke that news to some county commissioners last week. A cut in revenue-sharing money could result in a loss from $535,000 to $1.07 million for the county’s upcoming fiscal year.

    Kent County Administrator Daryl Delabbio estimated the loss at $700,000.

    The county only receives statutory sharing, unlike cities and townships, which also get the revenue sharing mandated by the constitution. Without a cutback, the county should get $10.7 million for the fiscal year.

    Haynes told members of the county’s Legislative and Human Resources Committee that lawmakers are expected to end their lame-duck session halfway through December and that Engler has until the end of the month to issue a budget-cut order.

    Haynes said if legislators don’t reconvene, the order would automatically take effect. But he added that if lawmakers did reconvene, they could only approve or reject the governor’s mandate, not amend it.

    Still, that may not be the end of the budget tale.

    “What governors do on their way out can be changed by the governor coming in, by executive order,” said Haynes. “We don’t know what Gov. Granholm will do.”

    The state’s budget deficit has been estimated to be between $750 million and $1 billion, and Granholm takes office on Jan. 1.

    Delabbio said that county department heads have been reviewing their budgets should a cut in revenue sharing be ordered. A decision, however, on what would be sliced from the county’s 2003 budget hasn’t been made yet. But Delabbio said funding for vital county services wouldn’t be affected by a cut.

    Instead, Delabbio said that the budget for purchasing parkland could be cut to match the loss in revenue sharing, while reiterating that a decision hasn’t been made. The county’s fiscal year starts on the same day Granholm does.

    Haynes said that hot issues in the lame duck session would likely be funding caps for charter schools, the continued takeover of the Detroit Public Schools and racinos. Racinos are racetracks that also have electronic gaming devices, such as slot machines.

    After the current session ends, however, Haynes felt the major issue for Kent County would be the same one it’s been for decades.

    “The equity issue continues to plague us in Kent County,” he said. “I think this will be one of the busier two-year sessions that we will see. It always is when we have a new governor.”           

    Facebook Comments