Earlier this year, the Marquette County Board established a Space Needs Ad Hoc Committee to review operations at the Ishpeming branch of the district court, the county youth home in Marquette and jail bed shortage issues at the county jail and Mangum Farm detention center.
After receiving the report, the board recently voted to have an architect draft various scenarios for expanding bed space at the county jail, with an eye toward closing the detention center by 2015. Additional cost saving measures are under way at the county youth home.
The report produced by the ad hoc committee was developed over several months and we think provided a good deal of additional insights into the county's current and future financial and space needs situations.
We think having a solid report is essential to the county in making the recent, and upcoming, important decisions which will likely affect the future of services provided to taxpayers.
There were financial forecasting elements in the report which excluded the affects of the Eagle Mine, Empire Mine, Sawyer Airport Stabilization Fund and Presque Isle Power Plant.
We think it would have been better had those features, and others, been factored into the projections to provide a richer and more complete picture of the circumstances. However, we understand some of that data may not be available or related decisions may not have yet been made or finalized.
Despite those limitations, we think the space needs report provided a good deal of information for the county board to consider in looking ahead to dictating how money much will be spent, where it will be spent and to what level projects and programs will be funded.
Clearly, the county board faces numerous challenges in the next few years involving space needs and financial planning. Thankfully, the board has a good basis in hand - via the ad hoc committee report - to help make those difficult choices.
The rest is up to the panel and the voices of its constituencies.