HOUGHTON - The Houghton County Board of Commissioners approved an $8,545,606 general fund budget for the 2013 fiscal year at its monthly meeting Tuesday, a 0.8 percent increase over last year's.
The general fund balance is anticipated to be $2,117,220 at the end of 2013, for a deficit just over $13,000.
But that's much improved from the situation a year ago, where the county had a deficit of more than $100,000, and had to eliminate multiple positions, said county Comptroller Eric Forsberg.
"We're doing much better," he said. "We've seen our first increase in state revenue sharing, which is the first one I've seen, and I've been here nine years. Usually they're cutting. So I'm happy with it."
At $128.76 in per capita base taxes, Houghton County is also the lowest of the U.P. counties by more than $20, according to figures provided by the county.
In other action, the board:
approved Road Commission compensation and a request to advertise for applicants to fill the seat being left by Kenneth Rowe, whose term is expiring.
heard from Jerry Wuorenmaa of the Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Region on the new website Get Around the Western U.P. The site, which includes information on the area's public and private transit, carpooling and non-motorized transportation, can be found at getaroundwup.org.
approved a 911 dispatching service contract with Peninsula Fiber Networks, a joint venture between Baraga Telephone Co. and Hiawatha Telephone Co. of Munising, for the NextGen 911 system. Peninsula Fiber is providing the new network for the computer aided dispatch for the U.P. 911 Association.
The board also approved a letter of authorization that allows Peninsula Fiber to place the order with telephone companies to route traffic to them.
The 911 selective router directs 911 calls to their proper PSAP, public service answering point. Peninsula Fiber representative Thom Sumbler said the current system, while effective for landline and voice wireless, does not support texting, cellular video or OnStar. The NextGen router, will allow calls to be routed in different ways, such as sending to multiple PSAPs.
The board gave its approval to Peninsula Fiber Network providing the NextGen 911 system, which needs to be approved by each of the U.P. counties.
approved a Municipal Employees Retirement System resolution to approve upfront payments for retired Houghton County Sheriff's Office deputies under Benefit E.
approved the low bid of Erico Electric Inc. for courthouse electrical upgrades. The work is estimated to save the county $5,000 to $6,000 a year in electricity bills.
approved an annual work plan with Michigan State University Extension.
approved putting out the demolition of the former transfer station for bid in the spring. The building is being used for storage for a company doing the water upgrades for Houghton.