Berrien County brings budget in linePublished 5:31pm Sunday, September 16, 2012
ST. JOSEPH — Creativity coupled with cuts combine to bring Berrien County’s budget in line.
With two open maintenance positions, Mike Fellner, a volunteer firefighter, was hired for his background in plumbing and water treatment. The other position was eliminated.
Supt. Todd Johnson said labor-intense landscaping is being replaced.
“Pulling ivy and putting mulch will save tons,” he said.
Johnson said his staff has been upgraded to photo-sending and email-receiving smartphones to be more mobile and efficient, capable of more responsibility with fewer personnel.
Johnson said his department is acquiring an interface to allow access to the Trane system, which includes HVAC systems at the courthouse, jail and South County Building in Niles.
“This interface will not only allow us to operate our system from a PC anywhere that can access the internet, but will also allow us to have the same ability on our smartphones,” he advised the administration committee.
Johnson also briefed the panel on installation of a four-inch domestic water line that had been corroding over time and began to leak. It ran from the courthouse top floor to the first floor.
He said after completing the line, the company forgot about a water supply used to refill the system and released 350 gallons of water, flooding all floors on a Saturday night.
With the help of a carpet extractor company, they were able to have repairs done by the time the facility reopened Monday morning.
Johnson is in the process of collecting bid specifications for the first phase of the courthouse parking lot project. A product for cell doors and floors at the jail will allow repainting every three to five years instead of annually.
South County lighting upgrades continue, plus with elimination of several contracted services, his department was able to buy equipment to do lawn work in-house, with enough left to build a storage shed.
James Stormont has served the public since 1981, when he started as a Berrien County Animal Control officer.
In 1989, he was appointed Chikaming Township police chief. He began in police work before radar, preliminary breath tests, laptops and portable radios.
Stormont is chairman of the Berrien County 911 advisory board.
Niles Charter Township Commissioner John LaMore, a former fire chief, said Stormont “has always been a strong contributor” with a keen eye for simple solutions, such as placing mile marker posts along the lakeshore.
His “actions echo the mission of Berrien County by providing leadership, cooperation with all units of government, sound fiscal management and planning, thereby promoting public safety, health, well-being and prosperity to improve the quality of life for present and future generations,” according to the resolution adopted Thursday. “This Berrien County Board of Commissioners formally recognizes James Stormont for his many years of dedicated public service to the citizens of Berrien County.”
An automated teller machine has been at the Berrien County courthouse since 2004 to facilitate payment of fines and court costs.
Honor Credit Union removed it July 31.
Flagstar Bank agreed to replace the ATM at no cost to the county.