Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

County commission considers budget committee


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Bessemer — The Gogebic County Board of Commissioners may establish a budget committee of elected and appointed officials, according to discussion at Wednesday’s regular meeting that was broadcast live on the county’s Facebook page.

The discussion followed a report on the fiscal year 2020 and 2021 budget impacts of COVID-19. There will be more solid information regarding the 2021 fiscal budget following the state of Michigan Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference today.

“We do still feel that we are going to be OK,” said Gerry Pelissero, clerk of court and register of deeds, regarding the funds left with the 2020 fiscal budget.

The recommendation for a budget committee was submitted to the board in a letter from Lisa Hewitt, county treasurer. The committee would include the county treasurer, administrator, emergency manager and the county commission finance chair.

“I think that should be looked at,” said Joe Bonovetz, commissioner. “It would be nice to have a group of people focused on that.”

Bonovetz said further discussion was needed to consider if additional membership would benefit the goals of the committee. He said the membership should match the goals of what information the commission would like to see coming from the committee.

“Why is forming a committee necessary to do what is essentially regular business and communication between these appointed offices?” said James Lorenson, a commissioner who questioned the need for the committee. 

Elected and appointed officials are aware that the county budget is important, he said. He suggested a task force to look at revenues and expenditures if more focus was necessary.

“It’s an opportunity for commissioners to be more involved (with the budget process),” said Juliane Giackino, county administrator.

In other business, the commission 6-0 approved the county clerk’s recommendation to continue  the employee pay extension due to COVID-19 through May 28, when the state’s stay at home emergency order expires. The commission approved the pay extension through May 15 at a previous meeting.

Commissioner George Peterson was not present.

The board left protocol to the discretion of department head as to the new normal of business day operations. 

The county building will continue to take temperatures of people entering the building and have an employee directing people to offices to prevent people who are not familiar with the building from walking into other offices. Anyone entering the building will sign a contact sheet in the event that a COVID-19 case is confirmed so that anyone who is potentially exposed can be informed and monitored.

“It will be business as usual other than health precautions,” said Dan Siirila, commission chair.

The board 6-0 approved a letter of support from the county be sent to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

The letter is to support the governor’s decisions related to the state’s and other actions taken regarding the coronavirus pandemic, said Tom Laabs, commissioner. As more people with weapons plan demonstrations at the capitol building in Lansing it is important that the county go on record to show support for the governor’s plan to bring Michigan back to work through the order. 

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