The Belleville City Council got a clean audit report on the $2,342,000 budget ending June 30, 2010, but received some disheartening news about what to expect for the coming 2011-12 budget year.
The fiscal year budget ending June 30, 2010 spent $79,000 in excess of revenue and took it out of fund balance to balance the books.
The audit was done by Alan C. Young & Associates of Detroit.
Molly Goike of Plante Moran, who presented the budget to the council at its Feb. 22 meeting with CPA Brian Camiller, said the fund balance should be from 15 to 20% of the overall budget and now the city’s fund balance has fallen to 6%.
Goike said the water and sewer budget has been “a little bit of a problem child,” but for the first time in two or three years, the net assets, unrestricted, did go into the black by $32,000. She said that budget did have a little drop in operating income.
She said part of the reason the general fund took a big hit this year was because of the federal government being slow in reimbursing some $45,808 in expenses for the Community Development Block Grant projects.
Once the federal government pays what’s owed, the city will replenish the fund balance, she said.
Goike said she foresees double-digit decreases in property tax income in the next budget year.
Plante Moran’s Camiller, who said he works exclusively with municipalities in Wayne County, talked about the governor’s announcements and cuts in state revenue sharing. He said $66,000 is very much at risk.
Also, personal property taxes could be removed from the city’s budget.
Camiller said the city has done well and some of the fund balance will come back, but he would like to see it grow to 25%. He said the general fund is still at negative $150,000 in inter-fund loans.
He said he would let them know as soon as information comes out in Lansing or Washington that affects the city.
“It’s not a fun time to be in government. It’s a lot scarier time,” Camiller said.
He said the cutbacks do give municipalities the opportunity to right-size operations.
“Communities that act fast will get it [extra funds from Lansing for consolidating services]. Those that sit by the side of the road, won’t.
“Your next budget year is going to be very, very difficult,” he concluded.
The council considered and approved budget amendments for the current budget year, cutting expected taxes by $10,000 and CDBG funds by $17,350.
The council increased administrative fees to the Belleville Area District Library.
Also, the Police line item was increased by $34,358 to $1,121,402, some of which was a hike in unemployment to $15,000 through the year because of a police officer terminated some time ago that is back on unemployment.
Senior Transportation was raised by $11,100 because of wages and much higher gasoline costs – an estimated $3,000 for gas alone.
Cultural Activities were decreased by $35,444 because taxpayers voted to support the district library part way through the budget year.
Councilwoman Kim Tindall said the city doesn’t participate in the state unemployment program and, “$15,000 for one guy is a lot. We may want to explore the state program.”
The amended general fund budget for 2010-11 had total expenditures of $2,178,402 and revenues of $2,162,845,
which required taking a net of $15,557 from the fund balance, leaving $125,907.
In other business at the Feb. 22 meeting, the council:
• Approved the mayor’s re-appointments of Jesse Marcotte and Jason Rodriguez to the Planning Commission, with terms to expire Dec. 31, 2013;
• Approved an amendment to the Snow and Ice Control Policy that makes it ongoing, replacing the original policy that was for a year only. This amendment gives the city manager authority to select an authorized contractor from an approved list compiled after public bid, to load and haul accumulated snow between the curb and sidewalk on Main, Fifth, and Fourth streets; and around fire hydrants to allow access by the fire department. The DPS Director shall provide a full report of all costs and expenses to the city manager who will then present it to the city council at its next meeting, but not later than 30 days after the activities;
• Heard a discussion on the removal of snow from along Main Street the nights of Feb. 7 and 8 by a no-bid contractor for a total cost of $8,400. “I, for one, am really proud of you folks for having the snow removed … Customers said it made it so they could get to the stores,” said businessman Ron Vesche. “The DDA doesn’t want to do it for us. There are members against doing anything to help us on Main Street… You folks took it upon yourself, even with low funds.” He said he called just as soon as he saw the snow gone to thank the city and so did his wife Jane. Councilwoman Tindall said the “DDA blew it off,” when the Vesches were seeking help with snow removal plans earlier in the season and, “the DDA dropped the ball.” She said the DDA blew it on purpose because they knew the city would do it if they didn’t. “You give me $40 an hour and I will shovel until my fingers fall off,” Tindall said. Davenport Brothers reportedly paid $40 an hour to some workers and $65 per hour to others for the two nights of work to clear Main Street;
• Set a public hearing on the 2011 Community Development Block Grant budget of $57,000 for 7:30 p.m. March 7 during the city council meeting;
• Set a 7:30 p.m., March 21, public hearing on a proposed zoning amendment on accessory buildings, as recommended by the Planning Commission. The amendment increases the maximum height of accessory buildings from 14 to 16 feet and takes away the restriction that the building must be used for parking vehicles, since woodshops would not be allowed;
• Set a 7:30 p.m., March 21, public hearing on an amendment to the Emergency Snow Ordinance, allowing for the proclaiming of a Snow Emergency;
• Set up a committee of Councilmembers Kim Tindall and Jim Shrove to study adoption of the International Fire Code, adoption of which was recommended by Fire Chief Lee Grant. The committee hopes to have its study complete in 60 days. Chief Grant said the National Fire Code (380 pages), which the city has now is too restrictive and the International Fire Code (400 pages) is more realistic and would be a benefit to the department;
• Approved accounts payable of $114,15.16 and purchases in excess of $500: Barrett Paving, $510, for cold patch, out of Local Street fund; and Davenport Brothers, $8,400, for snow removal on Main Street right of way, from the Major Street/General Fund;
• Heard Kollmeyer praise the Masonic Lodge members for doing an “awesome job” in picking up, sorting, and delivering free commodities to those who qualify in the City of Belleville. Van Buren Township used to do that service for the city, but stopped after the January delivery. The Feb. 15 pick up/sorting project was the first for the city and the Masons are doing most of the physical work;
• Heard Tindall say that after the “blizzard” of Feb. 1, the city cleared Church Street, where she lives, but after the Feb. 20 storm, she couldn’t get out of her drive. DPW Director Keith Boc said the first time, the city declared a snow emergency and no one was parked on the streets and snow removal was easier. But for the Feb. 20 storm, “I didn’t know it was going to snow” and didn’t declare an emergency;
• Heard Ron Vesche say he would like to put up a new sign and redo the front of his flower shop. He said the