Patterson Presents Budget Recommendations, Emphasis on…

Pledge_TOP_bluePatterson Presents County 711 ad pizzaBudget Recommendations, Emphasis on Buildings and Workforce

(Crystal A. Proxmire, July 15, 2015)

With an emphasis on buildings and on building up the workforce, County Executive L. Brooks Patterson presented a three year budget that he hopes will be adopted by the Commission. The budget also includes a reduction in property taxes.

“2016 and beyond is for reinvestment and sustainability,” Patterson said as he spoke before the County Commission on Thursday. He talked about how Oakland County budget priorities changed over the past few years. From 2008 through 2011 they had to reduce and reorganize, including eliminating 300 full time employee positions, reorganizing departments, encouraging retirements and modifying health plans. From 2012 to 2015 property values stabilized, there was a decreased reliance on budgetedDDAnew01 use of fund balance and salaries finally increased for county employees.

Now that the economy is on the rebound, the decision is where to invest. Recommendations include:

~Another property tax rate reduction in 2016

~Full funding of revenue sharing

~Increase for capital improvement program

~Funding for building security enhancements

~Use of fund balance

~General salary increase for each of the next three yearsroyal_services

~Reinstate County match for deferred compensation

~Increase contribution for retiree health savings

“One of the things we cut as capital improvements,” said Laurie Van Pelt, Director Management and Budget “Before we cut that we were investing about $5 million dollars. We’re recommending an increase of $4 million for a total of $5.5 million. The current focus is maintaining our buildings and this is adequate funding through 2025.”

Jordie KramerReid_Sally_115 Director of Human Resources talked about the need to attract new workers to the county. “One third of the County workforce is expected to turnover in the next 3-5 years,” she said.

“We want to strive to be the employer of choice and we want to promote diversity,” Kramer said. If adopted, the budget could restore an “employer match” to the Voluntary Deferred Compensation Plan that is available to full-time eligible employees. Until the 2010 budget, the County had been doing a $300 match per employee.

In 2006 the County eliminated retiree health coverage to new employees and were offered a Retiree Health Savings Plan. Currently Oakland County contributes $50 bi-weekly to those plan. The proposed budget calls for increasing this to $75 bi-weekly.

Wages are also an important part of attracting talent and supporting the people who make Oakland County services happen. In 2010 employees saw a 2.5% reduction in salaries, followed by another 1.5% reduction in 2011. seed22_Angela_FisherIn 2012 employees were given a one-time payment of $500. Things have been getting better since, with a 2% increase in 2014, a 3% increase in 2015 and a recommended increase of 3% for 2016.

There is also a recommendation for more of a focus on employee recruitment and retention. This includes working closely with colleges and universities, offering tuition reimbursement, using a NEOGOV system of screening applicants and increasing social media outreach.

The $825 million budget runs a fiscal year of Oct. 1 through Sept. 30. Over the next couple of months the proposed budget will be looked at by the Commission, and changes possibly made. Oakland new way 03 honky tonkCounty Democrats say they are ready to push for more funding for roads including increased pothole repair. They also want to see more tools for economic development and have a program so all Oakland County children have access to dental care.

“Without raising taxes, we can improve our local roads, improve the health of Oakland County Children, and strengthen our local economy,” said Commissioner Dave Woodward of Royal Oak. “Oakland County can do more so working families feel the benefits of the strengthening economy – and we should.”

Documents related to the budget can be found on Oakland County’s website at https://www.oakgov.com/exec/Pages/budget/default.aspx.

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