PONTIAC — Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson’s Budget Task Force has announced that the county will maintain a balanced budget through fiscal year 2017 without having to assign any new budget reduction tasks to county departments.
According to the county’s latest budget framework report, there are some positive signs that the market values of homes are stabilizing with fewer foreclosures. The county is on pace to have 3,400 foreclosures in 2013, a 46 percent reduction from the 7,371 in 2012. It also predicts a 1 percent increase in taxable value this year against the budget.
“Our proven track record as a team of elected officials and committed leaders that focuses on long-range planning coupled with early, remedial action is what allows Oakland County to maintain its AAA bond rating,” Patterson said. ”Our AAA bond rating will be a critical factor in the refinancing of a significant debt issue later on this year, an action that will save Oakland County taxpayers tens of millions of dollars over the next decade.”
The framework report will be the basis for supporting the county executive’s July 1 budget recommendation to the Board of Commissioners for fiscal 2014 through fiscal 2016. In his recommended budget, Patterson is expected to propose a modest, 2 percent salary increase for fulltime employees. This follows two years of salary reductions totaling 4 percent followed by two years of freezes at the reduced rates. At the current pace, it will be several more years before county employees return to 2009 salary levels.
“The continuing collaboration between the county-wide elected officials, the Board of Commissioners and our dedicated employees in sharing the economic burden for the betterment of the county is a qualitative asset of immense value in these times,” Patterson said.
A priority in the coming fiscal year will be the conversion of the county’s Certificates of Participation debt issue, which paid off the county’s retiree health care obligation, to lower-interest bonds. The framework report estimates this action will save taxpayers a net of $140 million in overall savings during the 10-year life of the bonds.
The framework report’s budget projections are made in an environment of international economic and diplomatic uncertainties, escalating federal debt, and implementation of federal health care, among others. To read the complete framework report, go to the oakgov.com homepage.