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Oakland County

October 9, 2013

County three-year budget holds line on tax rate

By Terry Oparka
C & G Staff Writer

The general property tax rate in Oakland County will remain 4.19 mills after Oakland County Commissioners unanimously passed the three-year budget last month: $799 million for 2014, $806 million for 2015 and $813 million for 2016.

“This action demonstrates the unique ability that Oakland County leaders have in working together, which is the key to creating a balanced budget. This bi-partisan effort is a collaboration among the county administration, the Board of Commissioners and all county-wide elected officials, and has made the more than $799 million budget for 2014 a reality,” stated Thomas F. Middleton, board finance chairman. “The planning that goes into establishing a balanced budget is tremendous. The investment we make to implement the very best budgetary practices makes Oakland County a standout in fiscal management.”

“Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s reaffirmed our AAA bond rating last month in the face of a Detroit bankruptcy filing because of our strong budgeting practices,” said Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson in a prepared statement. “Today’s vote (Sept. 19) by the commissioners shows the county continues to live within its means.”

Oakland County has adopted a three-year budget since 2009, and adopted two-year budgets for 20 years before that, said Deputy County Executive Robert Daddow.

Property assessments in the county have bottomed out from the low point of 2010, when assessments plummeted an average of just less than 15 percent. They have now posted a slight gain, 1.1 percent, countywide this year. The estimated property foreclosures this year — 3,000 — have dropped from a high of 9,290 in 2010.

After a combined 4 percent wage reductions in 2010 and 2011, and no wage increases in 2012 or 2013, the approved three-year budget includes a 2 percent pay raise for county employees in 2014 and 1 percent raises in 2015 and 2016. County commissioners voted to forgo a 2 percent wage increase for the current terms.

Daddow explained that, initially, a 1 percent wage increase was planned for 2014, but due to an increase in tax values of about $2 million that wasn’t initially expected, the pay raise was increased to 2 percent. The fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

“If the revenue goes up, it’s likely the pay raises would be adjusted up to accommodate the 4 percent reduction in the past,” Daddow said.

By 2016, the fund balance is projected to be back down to $85 million, about 20 percent of expenditures, following a high of $223 million in 2012, Daddow said. About $22 million is projected to be used from the reserves this year, $25 million in 2014 and $33 million in 2015.

A copy of the budget may be seen online at www.oakgov.com/fiscal.