STANTON – The Road Commission for Montcalm County will cover a slight shortfall in its 2011-2012 budget by transferring from its fund balance.
Chairman Dale Linton, Vice Chairman Bob Brundage and Member Don McCracken unanimously voted to approve the budget on Wednesday, which includes $12,766,080 in expenditures and $12,624,860 in revenues.
The $141,220 shortfall will be covered by transferring that amount from the fund balance.
Commissioners decided again to delay replacing equipment, including tractors and mowers, and to leave several vacant positions unfilled.
Commissioners also approved a resolution to increase employee contributions to the Municipal Employees Retirement System (MERS) pension plan.
Hourly union workers currently pay 1.5 percent of their wages. This amount will increase to 2.5 percent on Oct. 1 and will increase again to 3.5 percent in 2013.
Salaried workers currently pay 3.5 percent of their wages. This amount will increase to 4.5 percent on Oct. 1.
Clerk and Finance Director Karen Swan said the road commission has about $81,000 on hand, but numerous bills have been sent out to local municipalities. She said having $500,000 cash on hand would be ideal.
Although federal revenue for projects is down, the road commission budgeted state and federal aid for six projects slated for 2012:
• The Fleck Road bridge over the Flat River.
• Overlaying Stanton Road from Cedar Lake Road to Crystal Road.
• Seal-coating and fog-coating Federal Road from M-46 to North County Line Road.
• Constructing a passing flare on eastbound Stanton Road at Wyman Road.
• Upgrading the guardrail on the Dagget Road bridge over the Little Muskegon River.
• Seal-coating and fog-coating several primary roads yet to be determined.
Commissioners also budgeted for an increase in state gas tax and license plate receipts – $148,055 more than this year, but less than what the Road Commission received in 2003.
The Road Commission has not yet received a trunkline maintenance budget from the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), but commissioners are budgeting $1 million — a reduction of $165,000 from this year.
Commissioners also budgeted for a decrease in township contributions due to economic uncertainty.
“In the spring, as the townships return signed contracts for local road projects, this number will be adjusted up or down,” Swan said.
Bridge and road maintenance, including routine, preventative and winter work, has been budgeted come in at this year’s budget numbers.
“Since maintenance work is heavily dependent on the weather and conditions beyond our control, these expenditures may need to be adjusted up or down later in the year, usually after we get through winter and see what our costs are,” Swan said.
Although state and federal aid is currently unknown for next spring and summer, commissioners have budgeted to gravel resurface several miles of primary gravel roads — something the Road Commission has not done in a long time.
“We haven’t graveled a primary road in probably 18 years,” Swan noted.
Commissioners also budgeted for a new float truck, a new side plow for a truck No. 30, a new V-box and wing for truck No. 73, three engine overhauls and three transmission overhauls.
The Road Commission has budgeted $213,300 for annual principal and interest payment on bonds sold in 2003. The long-term debt is set to be paid off in 2013.
The complete Road Commission for Montcalm County budget and regular meeting minutes can be found at www.montcalmroads.com.