Baraga County Board makes cuts to staff

L’ANSE – The Baraga County Board of Commissioners laid off one half-time janitor and reduced hours for about a dozen full-time clerical and janitorial workers from 37.5 to 35 hours at their regular meeting Monday.

The board based their decision on the finance committee’s pre-audit findings that the county was on track to spend slightly more than it would take in this fiscal year, cutting into a fund balance that stood at just over $920,000 at the end of fiscal 2013.

The report showed that while the county’s finances had been in the black in recent years, positive balances had been decreasing each year.

“Every year we’re going $50,000 more in the hole,” said Board Chairman Mike Koskinen. “Our tax base is getting less with all the property coming off the tax rolls,”

Employees at Baraga’s county offices and court house had been on a 35-hour week for several years until just this October, but the finance committee found that the extra two-and-a-half hours per week added up to about $35,000 over the course of a year. With the elimination of the part-time janitor, the yearly budget should end in the black and the negative trend should be halted.

The committee recommended the cuts as the most prudent way to balance the budget.

Koskinen said at the meeting that while the county was currently fiscally healthy, they were also “trying to not create a deficit.”