LINCOLN - The Alcona County Board of Road Commissioners is cautiously optimistic about the road commission's 2013 budget, which it approved after a public hearing on Friday having set aside over $400,000 to purchase two new trucks which the road commission has claimed to need for years.
The hearing received no public comment or input, and the board accepted the budget as proposed, in the amount of $5,585,848. Managing Director Jesse Campbell said the budget exceeded 2012's final adjusted budget by about $336,621, but he commended Account Clerk Pat Kollien for finding a way to budget for two new trucks, at about $220,000, and another $200,000 worth of related equipment.
"She did a great job, and we had a lot of figures that we had to change around and try to adjust for the suspected insurance costs for next year, suspected fuel costs, fuel consumption, and that's always based on weather and cost of materials," he said. "The board was really pleased with it, and I'm pretty happy with it, as long as we can follow that."
The road commission must compensate by making routes smaller or more efficient wherever possible in order to conserve fuel and labor hours, Campbell said.
"One of our main cost savings is just the service we provide, and trying to do as much as possible with as little as we have," he said. "The snowfalls are showing that a little bit. Our guys are a little more stretched out. They don't have a lot of time to run over their whole routes, so we're just trying to get that implemented, because all of our routes have changed so drastically."
The other major unknown is the union employees' new contract, which is set to expire on March 31, 2013. Campbell said new union contract negotiations will begin on Jan. 3, at which point the board also will have to resume looking at health insurance options. He expects to receive three quotes from different companies, but in any case, he thinks negotiations will be difficult to finish before April.
"Until we actually find out what the cost and coverage plans are, it's really hard to decide what's going to work for us. There are so many formulas that are used; if they're single, married, or a family, and how many employees we have," Campbell said. "They (all) have to take the same plan, but we're looking at possibly offering a secondary plan for certain employees that they can purchase to cover certain things that they have to go through, maybe additional coverage for an additional cost."
In other business:
"We think it's very important that this is enforced and that we go forward with it, but it's not fair for road commissions with a lot more funding to pay $1,000, and the ones that don't have hardly any funding have to pay the same amount," Campbellsaid. "We're just contesting that the formula they're using isn't a very good one."