Houghton County passes audit with flying colors | News, Sports, Jobs

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Ken Talsma, an accountant at Anderson, Tackman & Co., delivers an audit report to Houghton County during Tuesday’s board meeting

HOUGHTON — Houghton County passed its audit with flying colors, its auditor said at Tuesday’s monthly board meeting.

Ken Talsma of Anderson, Tackman & Co. reported on the county’s 2021-2022 audit. He issued an unmodified opinion, the best of four results. This indicates that the county followed generally accepted accounting principles and Treasury rules for internal controls.

“That’s the opinion you want to get, and that’s what you get,” he said.

Talsma also presented charts showing the county’s financial performance over the previous year.

Houghton County’s net position saw a 5.3% year-over-year increase in 2021 to $54,738,413. Over the past five years, the general fund balance has increased by 67.3% to $5,469,306.

One thing the state monitors is to ensure that revenues and expenditures have exceeded the past three years, Talsma said. If that changes, the state cares.

“That’s when they start writing you these letters — ‘What’s going on? We are worried about you, but we are not going to give you money or help you. We will write you many letters,” he said. “It’s good that you’re on an uptrend with this, so they’ll leave you alone.”

Houghton County has enough assets to cover 62.9% of liabilities, which Talsma says puts the county in the middle of the pack statewide.

In other actions, the council:

• Added Osceola Township projects to the American Rescue Plan Act-funded highway commission repair program.

The county previously approved $1.1 million in projects earlier this month. The Township of Osceola will provide $190,497, which would then be matched by matching funds from the highways commission and the county council.

• Approval of collecting the maximum allowable operating mile of 6.222 mills after a Headlee rollback. It will increase property taxes by $333,606 in 2022 over the amount generated by the authorized mileage level without holding a public hearing.

There was no public comment during the Truth in Taxation hearing at the start of Tuesday’s meeting.

• Heard a report from Building Inspector Todd LaRoux. So far this year, the county has issued 138 building permits, 248 electrical permits, 200 plumbing and mechanical permits, and 40 soil and erosion permits.

Although he does not have 2021 numbers on hand, he said permit applications “rolled non-stop.” There are more big business projects that haven’t been captured yet, LaRoux said.

The board also approved the reclassification of LaRoux from MP 9 to MP 10. The change was applied retroactively to the start of the last pay period.

• Approval of $74,215 in compensation contracts for 2022 for five Houghton County businesses. The program is part of a state effort approved in 1990 to re-examine all of Michigan.

Last year’s contract covered surveys in 28 corners of Portage and Chassell townships.

• Houghton County’s first contracts were awarded in 1992; about 30% of the county has been completed.

• I heard a report from prison administrator Doug Hebner. The 28-bed county jail has 26 inmates. There are also eight inmates at the county labor camp.

• Approved an increase in 911 display fees from $25 to $40.

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