County will hold off on spending budget surplus

May 3, 2018

Credit Grand Traverse County

Leaders in Grand Traverse County will wait until a new administrator is hired before they decide how to spend a budget surplus.

The county’s finance director says there’s about an extra $8 million in the budget. The money comes from increased property tax revenue and unforeseen savings in employee health care and the removal of the Boardman River dam.

Wednesday night, county commissioners discussed a few things they could do with the money, like pay down the county’s pension debt or give raises to employees.

But businessman Andy LaPointe urged caution, saying the county’s finances have been unpredictable over the last year.

“Until these numbers settle down and you’re absolutely positive of them, to proceed, in my mind, is absurd,” said LaPointe.

Commissioner Tom Mair suggested waiting a few months to make a decision on how to spend the surplus.

“We’re in the midst of our annual audit right now, so one of the first thoughts I have is that we wait until the audit is complete to make a final decision on how to spend a surplus in the general fund,” said Mair.

The county’s audit should be complete by June. That’s also when a new report on the pension debt is expected.

The commission is in the final stages of hiring a new administrator.