New Isabella County budget means police have to lay off one officer

The Isabella County Sheriff Department will lay off a deputy at the end of the year as the 2013 county budget, passed last Tuesday, reflects the slimming-down effect of local government.

Isabella County Sheriff Leo Mioduszewski said a deputy will be laid off  at the end of this year. Isabella Deputy Chris Pedersen will work his last day for the county on Dec. 31, and Mioduszewski said he knew about it from past discussions.

“It had been discussed several years ago,” Mioduszewski said. “The rest of it was pretty much status quo.”

Mioduszewski said the majority of Peterson’s position was funded from the two-percent funding from the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe – about $50,000 – and the remaining $25,000 or so was paid from the county forfeiture budget.

Mioduszewski said the forfeiture budget is money that comes from assets seized at the close of a criminal case. For instance, cash seized with drugs is deposited in the forfeiture budget, Mioduszewski said.

As law enforcement adjusts to the economy, the Isabella County Board of Commissioners will scrutinize the pros and cons of maintaining a county zoning system in the upcoming year.

But Tuesday's meeting had a different focus; the Isabella County Board of Commissioners approved the 2013 fiscal budget, totaling $17,479,136, a two-percent decrease from the previous year.

“This budget would continue funding zoning at the current level for this year; but, in the mean time, we’ll be taking a really hard look at zoning,” Isabella County Administrator Tim Dolehanty said.

The recycling budget increased 17 percent from last year to $1,118,730. Corrections officer training increased 455 percent to $22,200.

Capital improvement increased 84 percent to $155,267. Central dispatch decreased 26 percent to $1,149,087.

Dolehanty said the county is analyzing a way to proactively combat an economic situation that will be about the same in 2014, when the Board of Commissioners considers the 2014 fiscal budget.

“(Zoning is) particularly messed up, because there’s a lot of redundancy,” Dolehanty said.

Dolehanty said without zoning, there would be a possibility of townships running around with disputes that would otherwise be prevented with zoning; however, he said he considers that a small chance of occurring.

For instance, a lack of zoning could give anybody the freedom to dedicate their property to any use. Most zoning restrictions don’t allow industrial parks next door to homes, while a lack of zoning wouldn’t stop it.

A lack of zoning can also cause a decrease in land value – especially with cases of unfavorable property development – which also decreases tax base for services such as law enforcement.

“If I go into one of these townships, am I going to see things that I don’t want to see? Probably not, but it’s a possibility,” Dolehanty said.

On the other hand, Dolehanty sees a benefit to either repealing the county zoning or enforcing an exclusive county zoning that would disallow individual township zoning. The point of it would be to reduce bureaucratic redundancy.

“We’re looking at following governor Snyder’s lead and reduce the redundancy as best we can,” Dolehanty said. “I think it would be better to have one set of rules.”

Dolehanty said the county zoning is administered by professionals, and mandating one zoning ordinance through the county would thus be operated efficiently. In the current system, many of Isabella county’s residents pay for both their respective township and county zoning services.


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