STANTON — The Montcalm County Animal Control director’s position has been eliminated due to budget cuts.
The Board of Commissioners Finance & Personnel Committee unanimously voted Monday to eliminate Patricia Lentz’s position and replace it with a part-time shelter assistant. The full board will officially vote on the recommendation on Sept. 26, when they will approve the final budget.
Montcalm County is facing a $1.3 million deficit after projected expenditures of more than $15 million and projected revenues of about $14 million for 2011-2012.
Lentz currently earns about $65,000 per year. The shelter assistant would earn about $25,000 per year. Hours at the shelter would be reduced. An Animal Control officer would remain to patrol and respond.
Lentz was not present at Monday’s meeting and could not be reached for comment. She was asked to present $40,000 in budget cuts to the Board of Commissioners, but she only presented $30,000 worth of cuts.
Lentz was hired as director of Montcalm County Animal Control in May 2008. She had served in the same capacity for 18 years in Isabella County before being fired in 2007. She succeeded Kevin Weaver, who resigned in March 2008 under pressure from the Montcalm County Board of Commissioners for poor job performance.
At Monday’s meeting, commissioners also discussed whether to make cuts to the county’s 4-H program, which is under the umbrella of Michigan State University (MSU) Montcalm Extension.
“I was at the annual Farm Bureau meeting and they were quite adamant that Michigan State University retain a person for 4-H,” said District 5 Commissioner Carl Paepke. “Farming ties in very closely with 4-H, along with our industries in Montcalm County. I think that’s something we should look at very hard.”
District 3 Commissioner Ron Retzloff questioned why 4-H should be immune from budget cuts when all county departments are being hit with reductions.
“I agree that it’s a position that I would like to see also, but we’re cutting a department head down to one person to run that department (Animal Control),” he said. “Do you have a suggestion for who else we’re going to cut? Because I don’t have one.”
“I just think it’s something we should look at very hard,” Paepke responded.
Retzloff said he hates to make any cuts, but it’s a necessity.
“We’re cutting other people out of jobs here totally,” he said.
District 2 Commissioner Tom Lindeman said he talked to numerous people about the 4-H program and all but one person were opposed to continuing to fund 4-H while sheriff’s deputies are getting cut.
“It’s a great program,” he said of 4-H. “So is Boy Scouts, so is Girl Scouts.”