Montcalm County commissioners OK funding requests for Marine Patrol, Animal Control

By Cory Smith • Last Updated 11:37 am on Tuesday, February 12, 2013

STANTON — Two organizations in search of extra funding have now found some relief, even if only temporary, after Montcalm County Commissioners approved additional funds to the Montcalm County Sheriff’s Office and Animal Control Monday morning.

The addition of two officers to the Montcalm County Sheriff’s marine patrol and an increase in hours and pay of a kennel attendant position were voted through unanimously by members of the Finance and Personnel Committee to recommend to the full board of county commissioners.

The proposal from Montcalm County Sheriff Bill Barnwell asked to rehire two laid-off deputies for Marine Patrol beginning May 13 at a pay rate of $20.21 per hour without medical benefits.

Without the new proposal, the marine program would have run with four seasonal part-time officers.

According to Barnwell, the two officers who would return to the force as marine officers, would most likely still have their certification, however, they wouldn’t be able to be used as general patrol officers because the funding to pay for their salaries is coming from the marine fund.

“This is just a way of looking at possible solutions to using some laid-off officers,” Barnwell said.

Total annual costs, as well as an average of $10,000 in operational costs, would be $55,408.20 for the summer program, according to Barnwell,

On average, the State of Michigan reimburses Montcalm County at a rate of 60 percent, approximately $33,244.92.

The county is looking at a cost of approximately $6,900 with the reimbursement from the state, prompting Controller-Administrator Chris Hyzer to raise a question to the board.

“Do we feel comfortable allowing the sheriff to move ahead with this plan, knowing there is a potential risk of $7,000?” he asked.

Barnwell said the situation is difficult because there is no guarantee on the size of the reimbursement.

“This is, unfortunately, one of those programs where you pay for it and get reimbursed afterword,” he said. “Last year, we were reimbursed the high end of 85 percent. Our fingers are crossed that we’ll get that again.”

The increase in funds, according to Hyzer, is a one-time decision to apply only for summer 2013.

After approving a motion on the two marine officers, committee members then approved to increase the hours of a kennel attendant position from 10 to 25 hours and increase the pay from $10 per hour to $15 per hour.

The additional cost for the position would be about $13,500, according to Hyzer. He said the position was previously budgeted at $6,100.

County Commissioner Ron Baker of Howard City said he is hopeful that a revenue stream could be created in the future to help offset the cost of the position in future years.

The increase in hours and pay, unlike the decision on the marine officers, is not temporary and will continue to stay in effect.

The next full board meeting will be 1:30 p.m., Jan 25.

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