County Board approves revised budget, reduces cuts to prosecutor’s office

FLINT — The Genesee County Board of Commissioners has approved an updated budget for the 2020/2021 fiscal year, following negotiations to lower cuts to the Genesee County Prosecutor’s Office.

Last Wednesday, the county board voted 4-5 against a proposed budget that would have made over $700,000 in cuts to the prosecutor’s office from the general fund. Commissioners Bryant Nolden, David Martin, Brenda Clack, Shaun Shumaker and Mark Young voted against the budget, while Commissioners Martin Cousineau, Ellen Ellenburg, Ted Henry and Kim Courts voted in favor of the proposal.

Following the failed budget vote, county commissioners reached an agreement with Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton to cut $550,000 from the prosecutor’s office budget. Commissioners voted 6-3 in favor of the revised budget yesterday morning, with Nolden, Martin, Clack, Ellenburg, Courts and Cousineau approving the proposal and Henry, Shumaker and Young opposing it.

As initially proposed, the 2020/2021 budget called for $777,000 worth of reductions to the county prosecutor’s office. With those cuts, Leyton said that he would have had to lay off 14 of his staff members—including three assistant prosecuting attorneys and four secretaries.

Leyton, whose office is already operating with a reduced staff, told commissioners last Wednesday that his own reduction plan could cut about $300,000 to $400,000 from his budget, while saving several positions from layoffs.

Commissioners who voted against the initial proposed budget said they couldn’t support cuts that would hinder the Genesee County Prosecutor’s Office from getting criminals off the streets.

“The community doesn’t know what’s going to happen next,” said Commissioner Clack. “So all the protection that I can help secure, to make sure that we get the bad people out of this community…is my responsibility.”

Outside of the reductions in cuts to the prosecutor’s office, no other changes were made to the revised 2020/2021 budget.

Although the Genesee County’ Sheriff’s Office stands to lose $2.8 million in cuts with the 2020/2021 budget, Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson said that his department won’t be facing any layoffs. However, Swanson won’t be able to fill several positions that have been recently vacated by retirements and terminations.

“Those positions have been eliminated—not through layoffs, but through attrition,” he said.

Nearly 60 percent of the county’s general fund budget goes to public safety, including the sheriff’s department, the prosecutor’s office and the courts. Twenty percent of the general fund goes to retiree healthcare fund, and the remaining 20 percent covers other services.

Per state law, the county had to adopt a budget by today.