GRAND RAPIDS — Members of the county Finance Committee got a preview last week of what the 2007 general operating fund will look like, and they seemed to like what they saw.
County Budget Coordinator Marvin VanNortwick said revenue should rise by 7.5 percent next year to $163.7 million. Property-tax receipts, the biggest revenue source for the fund, should grow by nearly 9 percent in 2007 from 2006, to $87.4 million.
VanNortwick said another gainer should be investment income. He expects revenue to increase by 31 percent in the coming year to $3.6 million, up from the $2.75 million the fund’s investments should earn this year.
“It’s a realistic number. Over the past few years, (the return) has been 1.5 percent to 2 percent. This year the estimate is 4.5 percent,” said Daryl Delabbio, county administrator and controller.
“This isn’t based on iffy,” he added. “This is based on less-than-current rates.”
VanNortwick said spending should rise next year by 5.8 percent from this year, a point between the 4 percent increase and 7.5 percent rise of the two spending plans committee members viewed.
The higher spending plan of $166.2 million includes all the requests made by department heads for the fiscal year, which leaves the fund with a $2.5 million deficit. The lower plan reduces that $166.2 million to $160.7 million and gives the fund a surplus of $3 million.
“The administrator and budget review committee has $3 million to add back to achieve a balanced budget,” said VanNortwick.
One of the bigger spending increases is the outlay for Millennium Park. In 2007, the park’s budget will be $736,469 and that figure will mark a 73-percent hike from the 2006 budget. But at the same time, the new admission fees that went into effect on Memorial Day for the park’s beach and water activity areas are expected to be worth $600,000 in revenue.
“It’s still going to cost us $136,000 if we meet that revenue projection,” said Roger Morgan, county commission chairman.
One of the biggest spending cuts next year will occur in the elections department of the county clerk’s office. Expenses there should drop by 47 percent to $232,795 in 2007 from the $441,656 budget it has this year — an election year.
“In even-numbered years, you’re going to see a higher budget for the clerk’s office,” said Delabbio.
The increase in property tax revenue is due to a shift in payment dates the state mandated when it stopped sharing sales-tax revenue with the counties. For all practical purposes, the change in payment from winter to summer results in counties getting four years’ worth of tax receipts over three years — which is the amount of time the shift is taking.
But next year, a homeowner’s entire property-tax bill will be due in July and the short-lived revenue gain for counties will end.
“In terms of revenue sharing from the state, we get nothing,” said Delabbio of next year’s budget. “We are anticipating to come back on line in 2011.”