STEPHENSON — Menominee County Administrator Jason Carviou presented a proposed budget to the Board of Commissioners Tuesday during a committee of the whole meeting.

During his presentation, Carviou explained that Menominee County currently has a structural deficit, meaning that it must pull from the county general fund balance to cover its operational costs. He said that no entity should find itself in this position and Menominee County should begin working on solutions to this problem.

He proposed several changes to the budgets, including cutting out several areas of discretionary spending, or spending on programs and services that Menominee County is not required to provide.

“We don’t want to be using our general fund balance to support our operating costs year after year,” Carviou said. “What this leads to is a deficit that we can’t make up right now.”

He said that the county could technically afford to continue operating out of its general fund balance for several years, but it would create a bigger problem for future county board members to deal with.

“We would be kicking the can down the road if we didn’t address this now,” Carviou said.

Some major areas that he proposed cutting funding to is the Menominee County three-way road program and cutting the now full-time 4-H program coordinator position down to part-time.

The three-way road program is an agreement between Menominee County, the Menominee County Road Commission and the municipalities to help provide additional funding for road construction and improvement projects throughout the county.

The agreement works on three-year cycles, where each entity agrees to provide a certain amount of money over the course of three years. Menominee County and the Road Commission have agreed in the past to pay $200,000 over the course of three years, which equals to about $67,000/year for three years. The municipalities contribute a different rate, based on the miles of roads within its borders.

Once Menominee County pays the $67,000 it has promised for the 2018-19 budget year, the three-year agreement will have come to an end. Carviou is recommending that the county board does not choose to get into a new three-year agreement starting in the 2019-20 budget year. By not entering this agreement again, the county will save $67,000 a year.

“I think this is an important program, it’s been beneficial to county but looking at our county’s budget and the deficit, we have to look at places where we can cut to save money,” Carviou said. “The road commission is receiving more money each year from gas taxes and other funding from the state while the county is receiving less state revenue but more unfunded mandates for things we have to provide which is costing us more money and contributing to some our financial issues we’re in.”

This proposal was met with opposition during the public comment section of the meeting.

Lake Township Supervisor Bob Desjarlais said he was opposed to the removal of this funding from the county budget. He told the board that he felt the project helps the entire county and he believes it to be a minor line item in the overall budget.

“When you get to federal government all you hear is ‘infrastructure, infrastructure: Roads and bridges need to be improved’ and you get the same thing when you get to the State of Michigan. They moved money around this year to put more into roads, but that’s the highways. You know, M-35 and U.S. 41, but nobody cares about the lowest common denominator, the townships and their gravel roads,” Desjarlais said.

“I’m concerned that by removing your (Menominee County’s) share, it will have a detrimental effect on the citizens of Menominee County,” Desjarlais said. “This is a minor line item in the budget, when you have other items that are $500,000, $600,000 or a million dollars.”

Another major cut to the budget Carviou proposed was also met with objections from people during public comment. He suggested cutting the 4-H program coordinator position down from full-time to part-time.

“This is nothing against 4-H, I think it’s a great program but when you are looking at cutting the first place you need to look is at discretionary spending, things we’re not required to fund and 4-H is one of those programs,” Carviou said.

Desjarlais, during public comment, said he believed this was a “bad PR move” on the county’s part.

“We sat in this room not more than a month ago and praised the 4-H person about what such a good job she’s done and now you want to cut her down to part-time. I don’t think that’s good judgment. It’s a bad move: It’s a bad PR move and a bad budget move,” he told the board.

Tina Lesperance, Lake Township, also said she was against cutting the 4-H program coordinator position to part-time.

“It gives our kids a creative outlet that’s productive and keeping them out of the streets,” she said. “I really hope you reconsider this.”

This presentation was strictly an informational update for the county board and nothing was voted on during the committee of the whole meeting. The budget will be further discussed at a finance committee meeting which will be held at the Menominee County Courthouse, 9 a.m. Tuesday.