County continues budget work

ESCANABA – The Delta County Board of Commissioners held its third and final budget workshop meeting Tuesday to hear from department heads on their needs for the 2014-15 fiscal year.

Among those who addressed the board was District Court Judge Glenn Pearson, who noted one major district court budgetary change is the court’s move to an automated court reporting system. This will result in the elimination of the district court court reporter position. Court officials plan to have a phone conference Friday with a company who manufactures court reporting equipment; such equipment has also been implemented in Marquette County Circuit Court.

“What it envisions is an adjustment of other job duties of the clerks and the magistrates and myself, but getting to the point where it’s automated,” said Pearson. “There will be an audio/visual component so that if there is a request for a transcript, there has to be video along with the audio so that whoever does the transcribing can identify who’s talking and so on…”

He added during his years as judge, the court reporter position has changed fairly dramatically, and that in the absence of a court reporter, the other district court staff will step up to fill in any gaps of what the court reporter position does.

Ultimately, the goal is to have the new automated system in place by mid-September. However, implementing this new change is still a work in progress.

“It’ll obviously impact some of the things,” said Pearson. “We still don’t know the total ramifications of the move because it’s going to result in a reduction in staff, but what impact that has depends on which one of the staff members is no longer there, and there’s still on-going contract negotiations with the district court union employees.”

District Court Administrator/Magistrate Emily DeSalvo also pointed out some district court employees have moved to other jobs within the department. For instance, the former court reporter is now a probation officer, which needs to be corrected in the department’s finalized budget. The actual budgeted amount that will be removed by eliminating the court reporter position is $31,654.

The board also heard from Delta County Sheriff Gary Ballweg on the department’s $1.3 million road patrol fund as well as representatives from the following groups on how they allocate funds the county appropriates to them: the Delta County Chamber of Commerce, Delta County Economic Development Alliance, Delta Animal Shelter, Pathways Community Mental Health, Public Health – Delta & Menominee Counties, Department of Human Services, Delta County Airport, Delta County Renaissance Zone, Central Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Regional Commission, and the Delta County Fire Chiefs Association.