By Lauryn Schroeder
Ingham County is cutting $6.5 million in preparation for 2011, and is looking at doing a similar cut for 2012. The motion for more adjustments was approved 15-1 at the Board of Commissioners meeting this past Tuesday. Many citizens attended the meeting and brought attention to various problems in the budget that will be effective Jan. 1, 2011.
Retired police officer Lee Orbin has attended several meetings prior to Tuesday. He expressed concern about the lack of funding for the county sheriff’s department. “When I don’t have police protection in my community, I’m the one whose going to have to cover that protection when it comes to my family,” Orbin said. “I think that it’s time for the commissioners to wake up, and decide where it’s necessary to make cuts and where it’s not.”
Part of the cuts in the Lansing Police Department is to transfer all human autopsies to Flint, instead of performing them at Sparrow Hospital in downtown Lansing. By doing so, the County will save a minimal amount of money on the necessary autopsies being performed, but will pass on other costs to local police departments.
Elizabeth Reust, a Lansing police detective, disagrees with this decision and is working with several commissioners to stop to this change. “On top of the cost to transport both the body and an officer that must accompany it, we will also be short that patrol officer for at least two hours,” Ruest explains. “Not to mention, logistically, we will be losing the forensic pathologist team from Sparrow Hospital that we have been working, and forming a relationship with for many years.” For Reust, that would be a loss, greater than the money saved.
Sparrow Medical Director of Forensics Dr. Joyce Deyoung has enjoyed working with the Lansing Police Department for many years. “My staff at Sparrow Hospital is very motivated to keep working with the county and keep providing this service,” Deyoung said. “We would prefer that our tax dollars stay in the county, rather than help alleviate the economic burden of Genessee.”
Despite complaints, there is little commissioners can do with the little amount of reserves the county possesses. District 11 Commissioner Diane Holman, has been working on the budget proposal for several months. “This is a tremendous budget in a horrendous time, and we just can’t give everyone what they want,” Holman said. “There is limited funding and we are doing everything we can to make this work.”