St. Joseph County’s 2014 fiscal-year budget was approved by the five-member St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners Tuesday.
More than $16.7 million was set aside for county operations in 2014, an increase of more than $1.6 million from the amended 2013 fiscal year budget of $15.1 million.
Joni Smith, St. Joseph County’s director of finance, said in addition, the county has budgeted a transfer from the general-fund fund balance of $2 million to the county’s Building Improvement and Replacement fund.
The transfer, she said, is to set up a reserve to address the future facility needs in the county.
A review of the 2014 financial allocations show almost $2.3 million to the sheriff’s department, $2.2 million to the jail and turnkey, and $1 million to District Court. The allocations are increases from 2013 in all three cases.
The County’s appropriation to the road commission has increased from $70,000 to $191,000 for 2014. Smith said that is the only significant change in appropriations to outside agencies or organizations.
A variety of Christmas-related celebrations are taking place over the next three days throughout St. Joseph County.
In Constantine, the annual Christmas tree-lighting ceremony takes place at 6 o’clock tonight.
The village is also staging its Fourth of July fireworks fundraiser dinner tonight at Meeks Mill. Dinner settings are at 5 o’clock, 6:30 and 7:30.
Also in Constantine Saturday, downtown stores will feature a Christmas scavenger hunt 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Santa and reindeer will be at Shelby Park from 11 a.m. until 2. Prospective participants are advised to bring their own cameras.
Christmas in Colon takes place Friday, when a downtown parade starts at 6 p.m. Santa and carolers will be at the Colon Community Park at 7 p.m.
Meanwhile, the Centreville Downtown Development Authority has announced Santa will be coming to Centreville at 7 p.m. Saturday. The village’s Christmas tree lighting will occur at the same time in the courtyard gazebo.
A riding lawnmower and several other items were reported stolen Tuesday from a container storage in Sturgis Township.
State police said the lock on a container located in the 68000 block of White School Road was cut sometime between Oct. 28 and Nov. 29. In addition to the XMARK brand mower, four tires and a vehicle engine were stolen from the site.
St. Joseph County administrator Pat Yoder will shed his “interim” label at the start of the year.
Yoder, a 65-year-old Sturgis resident, was given a one-year contract Tuesday to serve as the full-fledged county administrator. He has been serving in an interim basis since April, following the January retirement of Judy West-Wing.
Yoder will receive a $105,000 base salary for the year. In addition, terms of his employment starting Jan. 1 include full benefits, a $500-per-month car allowance and five weeks of vacation. Unused vacation days can be rolled over into the following year or paid out upon the end of his employment.
Commissioner Allen Balog said he and board chairman John Dobberteen met with Yoder last week and reviewed feedback yielded by the five-member board regarding Yoder’s nine-month performance. With everyone’s input, Balog said, the commission agreed to extend an offer to stay on as administrator in a permanent capacity.
The village of White Pigeon is seeking donations to help with the purchase of new Christmas decorations in 2014.
The fundraising effort is being spearheaded by village council Trustee Shireen Cline. She said the village decided to end a three-year tradition and not hire a company that installed and took down rented decorations. The rental and service was about $1,300 a year.
For 2013, Cline said, the village instead will decorate its downtown area with 20- to 25-year-old decorations it owns.
Cline said she would like to order new decorations in the first quarter of 2014 to qualify for a discounted, off-season rate.
Investigators with the Three Rivers Police Department are looking for a man who exposed himself to a woman in the downtown area Sunday.
According to a department media release, the man was on Joshua Drive near the city’s East Parking Lot around 7:30 p.m. Sunday, when he asked a woman for directions.
As the woman approached the man, he pulled her toward the vehicle. The woman told police she noticed the man was exposing himself.
She managed to break away from the man and he was last seen driving east on East Michigan Avenue.
The man was described as being a light-skinned black man around 30 years of age.
He was driving a maroon, four-door vehicle. Its make, model and registration information were not known.