BAD AXE – The Huron County Board of Commissioners will wrap up 2016 with consideration of a year-long moratorium on wind development, the 2017 budget, and several other issues at its final meeting of the year Thursday.
The moratorium, if approved by the board as proposed, would be in effect for either one year from Jan. 18 or until all issues pertaining to various wind energy-related referendums are resolved, whichever happens first.
“Anything could happen when it gets to the board of commissioners,” said Commissioner John A. Nugent, who is a member of both the Huron County Planning Commission and the board.
Approved projects for DTE Energy, NextEra Energy Resources and Sempra US Gas & Power will not be affected by the moratorium, as proposed.
A five-year moratorium on wind development was first suggested by Commissioner Ron Wruble. The board then sent the resolution amending the county wind ordinance to the Huron County Planning Commission for review.
On Dec. 14, following a public hearing on the issue, Nugent proposed a year-long moratorium, which he told the Tribune would be renewable in one-year increments, if the language is followed that he used at the hearing.
But that renewal language, he said, is not in Thursday’s proposed resolution to amend the county wind ordinance.
Nugent expects there to be revisions to the resolution.
The motion was amended to include that the planning commission would offer analysis after anticipated May referendums in townships that are considering self-zoning.
If it passes as proposed, Wruble told the Tribune, “The good part is that its going to get us down the road for a year and will give the voters a chance to voice their opinion in the voting booth and we can then reassess it.” As for the budget, Wruble said that he is looking forward to “another sound fiscal year.”
Both expenditures and revenues are expected to decrease next year, according to the projected budget report, which is available online at www.co.huron.mi.us.
With appeals before the tax tribunal that could affect the amount of wind energy revenue, coming in, Wruble said it’s important to view those numbers conservatively.
In 2016, all of the wind energy tax revenue for the county went toward legacy costs.
“We’re trying to maintain the budget for current services and not expand the budget.”
There is a 40 percent projected decrease in other taxes, from $1 million to $600,000.
Wruble said this is because the county no longer collects personal property taxes.
Capital outlay will decrease 80 percent, from $509,000 to $100,000, as the county doesn’t have many projects lined up besides roof improvements, he said.
Property taxes and interest income showed no significant increase, while state revenue sharing stayed the same.
Grant revenues are expected to decrease by 38 percent. Wruble said that’s because grant funding is so hit or miss.
The budget totals $14.32 million in revenue and 14.37 million in expenditures.
The beginning fund balance will be $349,476, and the ending fund balance is expected to be $11,288.
Not included in the budget are funds needed to pay a full-time 4-H program coordinator, and funds to fuel county-wide drug prevention efforts.
These items will likely be added as amendments to the budget next year.
Other issues on Thursday’s agenda include:
• Returning the position of 4-H program coordinator to full time.
• Electing one road commissioner to a six-year term.
• Appointing two members to four-year terms on the Veteran’s Affairs Board.
• Appointing two members to the Nature Center Board.
• A motion to increase the Self-Insured Retention for the county’s liability insurance from $75,000 to $100,000.
• Motion to accept the retirement of Ivan R. Burkhard from the position of Maintenance Engineer/Facility Manager, effective Feb. 3.
The board meets at 9 a.m. in Room 305 of the Huron County Courthouse Building.
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