Approved budget includes Next Generation 911

The Oakland County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved County Executive L. Brooks Patterson’s balanced budget last Thursday which includes a major public safety enhancement. The county will replace its 911 copper network system 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 expressed his gratitude to the Board of Commissioners, countywide elected officials, and county employees for working with him to balance the county’s line-item budget through 2019, with a high-level five-year plan balanced through 2021.

“Thanks to the cooperation of the Board of Commissioners, other countywide elected officials, and county employees, we passed a balanced budget that provides outstanding services to our residents and taxpayers,” Patterson said.

The budget also will boost the county’s efforts to position itself as an employer of choice. Because of the improving economy and increased competition for new hires, Oakland County will increase the county’s deferred compensation match from its current $300 to $500 annually; and provide a general salary increase of two percent for fiscal 2017, two percent for 2018, and one percent for 2019.

The county’s deferred compensation 457(b) includes a $300 annual match that 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 budget improves the match to $500 a year effective Jan. 1, 2017 as one facet of a compensation package that will help with employee retention and recruitment in today’s competitive 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 employees’ 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 two percent increase for fiscal 2017 will augment a compensation package that will make the county more attractive to potential new hires.

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.

The proposed general fund budgets for fiscals 2017, 2018, and 2019 are $444,038,268; $451,109,388; and $454,918,552, respectively. The total budgets for all funds for those years are $853,892,211; $858,665,187; and $860,104,617, respectively.