LINCOLN - Finances and planning once again were the focus of the Alcona County Board of Road Commissioners meeting on Wednesday, as the board looked for cost-saving options and Managing Director Jesse Campbell suggested setting a cap on how much the road commission would spend on township road improvement projects.
As the board went through the most recent financial report, account clerk Pat Kollien said the fund balance was at $836,755.09 at the end of June and, according to the latest estimates for July through December, would be about $40,000 above last year's projections by the end of 2012. She summarized the current finances as "good but not great," though the board was concerned the road commission's need for a new truck that it can't afford, combined with health care costs and the fact expenses continue to exceed revenue, would require a specific plan for cutbacks. They made no plan on Wednesday, although Campbell stressed the need to limit how much the road commission spends on road improvement agreements that only the townships can afford.
"We have a lot of concerns. One of them is, there's no cap on our spending, so we have a 75-25 percent match on the local roads, and what happens is that (townships) get millages," he said. "Well, over the last 10 years these millages have overcome us. We can't meet those matches without really getting deep into ours, and that's money out of our general fund."
Some of these projects are even split 50/50, in which case a $200,000 project would cost the road commission $100,000, and Campbell said putting an annual cap on how much the road commission can spend on these projects would help it and the townships plan them years in advance.
"We always try to do any road improvements that we can do that betters Alcona ... as soon as possible, and we don't know what's going on next year. Next year we have some grant work that has to be done that's going to be very expensive," he said. "Just from day to day, we don't know what we're spending yet, so we can't budget money for (next year). I want to make some changes that allow us to budget money, and then to cap, and that will help us and the townships plan ahead for future projects."
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Andrew Westrope can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5693.