BY D’ARCY PATRICK EGAN
The Ottawa County Commissioners have little money to spare, but the three-man board of Mark W. Stahl, Donald A. Douglas and Mark E. Coppeler have managed to be frugal again in tough economic times.
The county’s total budget for 2022 is a whopping $108,171,610, but that is deceptive. The General Fund portion, which is what the commissioners have to work with for the next 12 months, is just $19,509,860.
“In case of an emergency, we do keep some cash in reserve,” said Stahl. “But our reserve for 2022 is only $291,778. We set it so that if there is a request for expenses against our anticipated revenues, we’ll be able to pay it and still come in under the expected revenues for the year.”
There are many county expenses that test the patience of department heads and the commissioners. Sheriff Stephen J. Levorchick and his 72-man staff are the the most costly item in the General Fund, but Levorchick has been consistently praised over the years for keeping his departments’ budget in check.
“Sheriff Levorchick and his men and women may be a large portion of our General Fund. But they’re a huge asset, and the Sheriff works hard on keeping the budget in line,” said Stahl.
“When we finally were able to fund capital improvements in recent years, we funded renovations to the Ottawa County Courthouse with internal cash. We didn’t borrow money and risk adding to our debt load,” said Stahl.
Stahl says everyone at the courthouse spends long hours fine-tuning the annual budget. If expenses exceed anticipated revenue, cost-minded department heads are put to work on cutting costs.
“That’s what you truly need to run an operation like ours,” said Stahl.