There is a major public safety enhancement in County Executive L. Brooks Patterson’s recommended three-year budget covering fiscal years 2017-2019. Oakland County provides for replacement of its 911 copper network which has reached the end of its useful life with a new regional Emergency Services Internet-protocol Network (ESINet) in preparation for the Next Generation 911 system. Patterson delivered his budget message to the Board of Commissioners Wednesday night.
ESINet 911 calls will be routed using geographic information system coordinates. Callers will not only be able to make voice calls to 911, but also will be able to send photographs, videos, in-car crash systems, and texts from emergency scenes.
Patterson’s recommended budget also will boost the county’s efforts to position itself as an employer of choice, efforts necessary because of the improving economy and increased competition for new hires. It calls for increasing the county’s deferred compensation match from its current $300 to $500 annually; and a general salary increase of two percent for fiscal 2017, two percent for 2018, and one percent for 2019.
“Oakland County has a strong leadership team, dedicated and professional county employees, long-term budgeting practices that are a model for others around the country, and an improving local economy,” Patterson said.
The county’s deferred compensation 457(b) plan $300 annual match was restored on Jan. 1, 2016 after being eliminated in 2010 as part of the Patterson administration’s efforts to maintain a balanced budget in the face of fiscal challenges posed by the Great Recession. The county executive recommends increasing the match to $500 a year effective Jan. 1, 2017 as one facet of a compensation package that is competitive in today’s job market.
General salary reductions totaling four percent took place in fiscals 2010 and 2011, as one of the Patterson administration’s budget balancing measures during the Great Recession. Those cuts preserved service delivery to residents and saved employee jobs. There were no general salary increases in fiscals 2012 and 2013, except for a one-time payment of $500 in 2012. General salaries increased two percent in fiscal 2014 and three percent in fiscal 2015, restoring them to 2009 salary levels. In the approved budget for fiscal 2016, general salaries increased three percent. While county government salaries continue to lag slightly behind the marketplace, the proposed two percent increase for fiscal 2017 will augment a compensation package to make it more attractive to potential new hires.
“With the need to both recruit new employees due to an increasing number of retirements and retain talented existing employees due to competition in the labor market, it is imperative that our total compensation package be competitively positioned,” Director of Human Resources Jordie Kramer said. “Competition in the labor market is evident and it is becoming more of a challenge to recruit and retain experienced, high-quality employees.”
In addition to improving the total compensation for county employees, the Board of Commissioners recently approved a new parental leave benefit policy which Patterson recommended in his 2016 State of the County speech. The parental leave benefit allows six weeks of pay to eligible full-time employees, mother or father, after a birth or adoption. This benefit is in addition to the short-term medical disability leave that was already available to mothers.
Both Patterson and Director of Management & Budget Laurie VanPelt highlighted Oakland County’s continued economic recovery under his administration.
- The county’s most recent unemployment rate of 3.5 percent in April 2016 is below Michigan’s 4.8 percent and the national average of 5.0 percent.
- The county’s per capita personal income of $59,759 in 2014 is the highest of any county in Michigan and higher than both the state and national average.
- Oakland County is in its sixth year of economic recovery, having gained 103,887 jobs from 2010-2015, with four out of 10 of those jobs in the high-wage category.
- Property values remain the highest of all 83 Michigan counties, representing 15.9 percent of the state’s total value. This is in spite of Oakland County having lost the greatest percentage of State Equalized Value during the Great Recession.
- In 2015, sheriff deed foreclosures reached its lowest point since 2005 with a total of 1,601.
The proposed general fund budgets for fiscals 2017, 2018, and 2019 are $443,244,156; $450,332,208; and $454,141,372, respectively. The total budgets for those years are $854,331,857; $859,121,765; and $860,561,195, respectively.