John Dobberteen will head the St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners for the second consecutive year.
The unanimous decision was made Tuesday at the commission’s first assembly of 2014. The meeting had been postponed one week due to inclement weather Jan. 7.
Dobberteen, whose jurisdiction covers the city of Sturgis and Fawn River Township, is starting his 16th year on the commission. This will be his sixth year as chairman.
The nomination of vice chair resulted in Allen Balog being named to the post. He will oversee the county’s twice-a-month meetings in Dobberteen’s absence.
Balog is starting his fourth year as a county commission member after serving three years as mayor of Three Rivers. His district consists of Flowerfield and Fabius townships, and the city of Three Rivers.
Commissioners are paid $7,200 annually.
St. Joseph County Commissioner Robin Baker said he has been attending township meetings within his district and has been asked about contracting for additional police coverage.
During the commission’s committee of the whole meeting Dec. 13, Baker said township officials within his jurisdiction continue to have discussions about the matter.
Baker said he is being asked if the sheriff’s department would offer a more attractive rate if a cluster of townships pool their resource, as opposed to what it would charge a single township for additional police coverage.
Baker’s district is comprised of Constantine, Mottville, White Pigeon and Sturgis townships.
County administrator Pat Yoder said he brought the issue to the attention of Sheriff Brad Balk and Undersheriff Mark Lillywhite, and the two indicated they would look into the request.
Fabius Township currently has a contract with the sheriff’s department for coverage exclusive to its boundaries.
Members of the St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners wished their constituents a Merry Christmas and offered thanks to county workers for a job well done in 2013.
During the close of Tuesday’s meeting – the final commission meeting of the calendar and fiscal year – commission chairman John Dobberteen also thanked Pat Yoder for staying on as the county’s permanent administrator in 2014. Yoder had been serving in an interim capacity since April 1.
Meanwhile, Commissioner Rick Shaffer said it has been a good year for the county, and he appreciates the hard work of Yoder and county staff.
Finance director Joni Smith added a footnote of good news for the county. Smith said a revenues and expenditures report through Nov. 30 shows county revenues were in excess of $13.5 million, while expenditures for the first 11 months of the year were more than $13.1 million. In short, Smith said revenue to date was more than expenditures by more than $383,000.
At the end of November, the county’s fund balance was $6.3 million.
The county commission will stage its organizational meeting at 5 p.m. Jan. 7.
Nearly 1,500 jobs and $53.8 million in new, private investment were announced in St. Joseph County in 2013.
The figures were included in the Southwest Michigan First 2013 annual report presented by Ken Jones last week before the St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners. The 12-month period marks the first full calendar year the St. Joseph County Economic Development Corporation has operated under the umbrella of Southwest Michigan First.
He noted that 15 of 16 company announcements in 2013 were expansions.
Jones recapped each of the 16 company announcements, led by Burr Oak Tool’s 120,000-square-foot expansion in Sturgis. He also noted Merehow Industries, which announced 46 new manufacturing jobs in White Pigeon. The company decided to relocate from Bristol, Ind.
Looking ahead, Jones said 16 proposals are moving forward, though not all will develop into bona fide projects. Nonetheless, the 16 proposals would equate to more than 800 jobs and $122 million in investment.
Jones reminded the board of money the EDC has set aside to hire a consultant to help certify shovel-ready sites in St. Joseph County, which would allow a company to come in and go right to work on a new facility, he said.
The consultant is looking at a 40-acre site in Three Rivers.
The St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners made a number of appointments and reappointments during Tuesday’s twice-a-month meeting.
Commissioners appointed Kathy Humphreys as chief deputy treasurer. She replaces Vicky Anders, who is retiring next month.
Eric Shafer was reappointed to another term on the St. Joseph County Road Commission. Shaffer’s new term starts Jan. 1 and concludes at the end of 2019.
One-year terms of service to the county’s Community Corrections Board were approved for members Jeff Middleton, Tony Callaway, John McDonough, Dave Griffin, Paul Stutesman, David Tomlinson, Rob Pattison, Gina Wagner, Tim Schuler, Robin Baker Thomas Miles, Howard Bush, and Eddie MacKay.
Also, the board approved renewing an independent contractor agreement with Indiana resident Charles Eckenstahler for consulting services related to zoning matters for the St. Joseph County Planning Commission.
Eckenstahler’s services call for $250 for each desk review and $150 per meeting attendance.
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.