$6.4 million: that's how much Ingham County needs to cut to balance the 2011 budget. The controller released her ideas of how to do it.
Among them, an 8-week hiring delay saves about $450,000. Reducing positions saves about $139,000. She also plans to decrease funding to the parks and the department of human services.
By far the biggest cut goes to the county's health department at $1.2 million.
"It's not good news, but we know the economy is suffering," Dr. Dean Seinko said.
Seinko said the department made cuts and reorganized behind the scenes mostly, so the average resident should not see a drastic change in services next year.
"We lose our nimbleness a bit," Seinko said. "For instance, when something like H1N1 comes out of no where, we lose our ability to respond to that."
The most contentious cut this year is the elimination of the road patrol. That will save the county about $1 million, but the sheriff asks at what cost?
"The assault on public safety has gotten worse," Sheriff Gene Wriggelsworth said.
The sheriff said he's lost 31 positions in the past three years. This year it's 15 positions, which includes closing a post at the jail.
"Public safety has been compromised in my opinion," he said. "I can no longer ensure the safety of the residents with the staff I have."
At least nine of those positions could be saved -- some added even -- if the 13 outlying townships choose to contract with the sheriff. All of them have a millage or a special assessment on November's ballot.
The Controller said the only constant right now, is that 2012 and 2013 don't look any better.
County Commissioners now meet in sub committees to discuss the controller's budget recommendations. The law enforcement committee met Thursday to discuss the road patrol issue.
The full board could vote on next year's budget as early as October 26th.