Sanilac Commissioners give stipends; plan soft re-opening

(SANDSUSKY) – Safety and declining revenue were issues on the minds of the Sanilac County Board of Commissioners Tuesday afternoon when they held another virtual meeting.

Four of the Commissioners were present in the meeting room with a fifth attending by telephone.

Administrator/Controller Tara Griffith said her office is anticipating an overall decline in revenue to the county, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Griffith said she believes there is a $11,000 dollars per week revenue loss due to the virus. County officials have been trying to combat the losses with both voluntary and involuntary furloughs that are projected to save the County $6,000 dollars per pay period.

Griffith said she is hopeful the State will be able to back-fill the budget with Federal assistance and pointed out the County’s largest budget deficit is due to wages and benefits.

In other Commissioner news, the board approved a resolution to give a one-time $1,000 stipend to first responders not covered by exemptions already inplace.

It is the Commissioners intention to include part-time employees that may qualify. The bonus is for those working, or on call, 24/7 and not qualifying for the Family First Leave program or taking paid six leave.

Griffith also said she has been meeting with various County officials to develop a safety plan for employees and visitors to the Courthouse as they prepare for a soft-reopening that will include health screenings and the use of face masks when in the building.

The board agreed to contract with the Health Department to do the screening, at a cost of $1,500 weekly for a six-week period.

At their Finance meeting Tuesday afternoon, the Sanilac County Board of Commission discussed plans and costs of getting employees back to work, at the appropriate time.

After Commissioners had agreed to have Health Department employees conduct screenings at the door of the Courthouse before entering, they further discussed the topic including re-visiting the issue if State Executive Orders are relinquished.

The board was told they need to have some form of plan in place within the next 10 days. Their action will take effect May 26th.

Although he favored contracting with the Health Department, Commissioner Gary Heberling asked how the action looks, having recently put people on voluntary and involuntary furloughs to try and save money.

Faced with certain budget shortfalls both this year and possibly next, Administrator/Controller Tara Griffith said she does not recommend using fund balance monies to balance the shortfall or using the County’s Delinquent Tax Fund.

The Board and Griffith agreed, if the situation worsens and there is a major budget shortfall next year, lay-offs may well be implemented to help balance the budget.