Ottawa County Board exploring ways to trim budget
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Ottawa County Board exploring ways to trim budget

Oct 25, 2023

OTTAWA COUNTY, Mich. — Ottawa County commissioners are exploring ways to trim 5% off the county’s budget.

“We want to demonstrate that, you know, we recognize that our taxpayers are under inflationary pressures,” says Gretchen Cosby, “and be able to invent that demonstrate that we're able to kind of pull in our belt as well.”

Several possibilities were raised during Monday's finance committee meeting. One of them was the option of paring down the general fund contribution to Public Health. As of now, $4.7 million is set aside for the 2024 fiscal year.

However, Commission Chair Joe Moss says that amount should be around $2.5 million, explaining that would put the county close to how the department was funded between 2009 and 2019.

“When the pandemic started, there was a significant increase in public health as they responded to the pandemic,” says Moss. “We've seen what types of responses there have been; we've seen also the reaction to those responses, with the people of Ottawa County asking for a new direction, making sure that the county prioritizes freedom and things like that. So I'd love to see that budget go back to kind of what it has been historically, maybe put it down towards 2.5 [million dollars] in the general fund allocation.”

Commissioner Doug Zylstra — the only Democrat on the Board — says that figure doesn't factor in population growth or inflation.

“The recommended budget here was 4.7 [million dollars],” says Zylstra. “I think that makes sense to me, going to 2.5 [million dollars] from a recommended 4.7 [million dollars]. I guess it just does not make sense to me and does not seem responsible, considering all the different things that we've had to work with, including inflation, including population growth, including, you know… COVID is still, you know, existing.”

County Administrator John Gibbs says lowering the county budget by 5% probably isn't feasible for fiscal year 2024, but it's something they'll look at for 2025.

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