Coulter presents recommended operating budget for 2021-2023

Oakland County Executive David Coulter on Wednesday presented his recommended operating budget for the next three years, which focuses on expanding health care for underserved people, embracing diversity and inclusion, protecting the natural environment and educational attainment as keys for the county’s growth and stability.

The budget was presented to the office of County Clerk Lisa Brown earlier Wednesday. It was based in part on the premise – made to the board during Coulter’s April budget message – that county expenditures should equal county revenues, and that continued fiscal discipline is vital to maintaining Oakland County’s enviable AAA bond rating – especially during the coronavirus pandemic. Coulter will present the budget request to the full Board of Commissioners on July 15.

“This budget illustrates that Oakland County is in a strong fiscal position to weather the current COVID-19 crisis as we have past fiscal crises, and to demonstrate the county’s continuing commitment to maintain a strong fiscal position for the future,” Coulter said.

“This is also the time for us to demonstrate our commitment to addressing the challenges we face as a county and to lean in as we did during the pandemic to lift all residents so they may participate in an equitable, fair and just county that celebrates diversity, creates opportunity and that ensures a bright future for our kids and grandkids. This is truly Oakland Together.”

Coulter said it was his administration’s intention to eliminate the practice of utilizing fund equity to balance the budget.
Key budget initiatives include:

    • Expanding and protecting health care for underserved populations
    • Embracing diversity, equity and inclusion
    • Protecting water and environment
    • Addressing climate change
    • Raising education attainment

For expanded health care, Coulter cited Oakland Health 360, a partnership with Honor Community Health, which brings primary care, dental care, family planning and behavioral heath into Oakland County Health Division clinics. A second partner is Oakland Livingston Human Service Agency, which will delivery insurance coverage, Head Start and emergency services such as energy, food and housing assistance.

Protecting the county’s water and environment, and effects of climate change, are priorities for Coulter’s administration. The county has 1,450 lakes, 138 miles of trails and 90,000 acres of parkland, Coulter said.

“The threat of the overheating climate has real consequences for our lakes and rivers, infrastructure, agriculture and public health,” Coulter said. “What is most important to me is that we have an actionable plan with evaluation tools and measurements to accompany our goal. This budget devotes staff resources to a sustainability effort within our Planning Division. I look forward to working with the Board of Commissioners to conduct a comprehensive energy audit and an assessment of greenhouse gas emissions and sources across our county facilities and develop a plan to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 utilizing renewable energy and increasing energy efficiency.”

The budget noted Oakland County’s impact on the state’s economy, with the county’s 2018 gross domestic product of $112 billion representing 23 percent of the state’s total gross domestic product. An economic development 10-year strategic plan is proposed that focuses on the importance of local clusters (restaurants, retail, and personal services) and traded clusters (good producing companies, i.e. manufacturing) across the county and regional partnerships.

Coulter’s Oakland Together agenda holds at its core the values of diversity, equity and inclusion. The budget includes the position devoted to implementing the board’s resolution to make Oakland County a “welcoming county” for immigrants and refugees. Coulter plans in the coming months to engage county employees in cultural awareness, evaluate program delivery, and create hiring and contracting metrics upon which county efforts are evaluated and judged.

Coincidentally, the same day the budget was presented to the clerk, the county’s first Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion officer, Robin Carter-Cooper, started her employment with the county.

“It is the responsibility of government to serve all residents, level the playing field, remove obstacles and create opportunity for all,” Coulter said. “For me this starts by being honest about the systemic racism that exists, the disenfranchisement that too many of our residents’ experience, and the income inequality and wealth gap that is growing not narrowing.”

Working with education and workforce leaders last winter, Coulter formed his Oakland80 Task Force and proposed an ambitious goal of having 80 percent of Oakland County adults with a postsecondary degree or credential by 2030.

“I look forward to working with the Board of Commissioners and our Oakland80 Task Force on a college counseling corps that increases enrollment and retainment in postsecondary programs and a fund that provides a last dollar commitment to eligible adults to completing their associate degree or industry certificate,” Coulter said. “Our strong workforce division will also continue to provide new apprenticeship programs in high demand careers that deliver industry-recognized credentials.

The General Fund/General Purpose Estimated Revenue and Appropriations are balanced at $454,836,699 for Fiscal Year 2021; $468,435,078 for FY 2022; and $472,235,306 for FY 2023. The total budget for all funds amounts to $900,531,197 for FY 2021; $915,305,789 for FY 2022; and $921,033,952 for FY 2023.
The proposed budget can be found at https://www.oakgov.com/mgtbud/Pages/default.aspx.

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