Osceola County Board receives audit presentation, approves conservation district service agreements | News

REED CITY — Tuesday’s Osceola County Committee of the Whole and Board of Commissioners meetings were the first to take place in the newly established County Administration Building, located at 602 W. Upton Ave. in Reed City.

Building renovations and parking lot construction are still under way, but the board room has been completed. The building will now serve as the permanent location for all future committee of the whole and board meetings.

After settling a few old business items, the board received its 2021 audit report from Ken Talsma of Anderson, Tackman and Company PLC accounting firm. Talsma told the board that overall, they were in a healthy position budget-wise for the 2021 fiscal year.

The county took in its largest revenue from property taxes, which Talsma said saw a slight increase between the years of 2020 and 2021. Licenses and permits were second to property tax in terms of revenue size.

The county also saw an increase in its general fund, due to ARPA dollars received from the state. Last year’s general fund sat at about $2.8 million, and Talsma said that increased to about $4.6 million in 2021. Right now, Talsma said the county has about $900,000 of ARPA left to spend, but another wave of funds are on their way.

Other notable sources of income came from local resources, like the road commission, and reimbursement revenue. After Talsma completed his report, District 5 Commissioner Roger Elkins spoke up to thank Talsma for his time, and share his surprise at the increase in the general fund balance.

He said it’s always been a difficult task to keep a balanced budget and not dip into the general fund, and he’s happy to see that the board is in a good place financially.

Following the audit report, the board heard from several Osceola-Lake Conservation District staff members, starting with District Manager Mark Sweppenheiser, who covered the first portion of the district’s annual report. Sweppenheiser said the district’s biggest fundraiser is typically its annual tree sale. So far this year, he said they’ve sold a total of 38,000 trees and seedlings.

At the district’s 2021 tire and electronics collection event, Sweppenheiser said they collected around 1,000 tires and 14,000 pounds of electronic waste. Additionally, the district’s 2021 household hazardous waste collection event gathered around 10,000 pounds of hazardous waste in Osceola County.

Sweppenheiser then reminded the board that their annual collections are just around the corner, starting with the tire and electronics collection, which is schedule to take place on Saturday, Aug. 6. Household and hazardous waste collections will be held on Oct. 8, and the order deadline for this year’s fall tree sale is Sep. 16.

North County CISMA Program Coordinator Nicki Sawicki then approached the board to express her concern regarding invasive species growth throughout the county. She said Osceola County is ground zero for wild parsnip, whose sap can cause third degree burns when exposed to sunlight.

Sawicki and fellow conservation district staff are working to control 444 acres of wild parsnip growth in the area. In addition, they’ll be completing 209 linear miles of roadside surveillance, along with surveillance of the Evart Motorcycle Loop and Riverside Park West to try and stop wild parsnip from spreading.

District Forester Rick Lucas then took over for Sawicki to notify the board that the county has seen some relief from the invasive spongey moth. However, with an increase in spotted lanternfly sitings throughout the neighboring states of Ohio and Indiana, Lucas said county residents should stay on the lookout and report any possible sightings immediately.

After hearing from all present district staff, the board voted unanimously to approve both the Household Hazardous Waste Collection and Disposal Program Services Agreement and the Tire/Electronics Collection and Recycle Program Services Agreement.


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