The Grosse Pointe Park City Council unanimously passed a $9,852,000 budget Monday that requires no tax increase but calls for little in the way of extras.
For example, there will be no road resurfacing on any of the Park's 36 miles of roads, City Manager Dale Krajniak said. One of the few luxuries will be the purchase of four new police vehicles and a new public safety radio system—a communications system to be paid for jointly by . Snow plowing, salting and patching will remain uncut, he said.
"If you don't have to spend the money, don't spend it," Krajniak said at Monday's meeting. "We're continuing to cut as much as possible without cutting services."
While some council members said the Park was the only Pointe not to implement a tax hike to cover expenses, the City of Grosse Pointe also passed a budget with no tax increase. The Woods and Farms passed a half-mill tax rate increase to their residents and the Shores has not yet approved its budget, which covers spending beginning June 30 for the next fiscal year.
Krajniak said the Park was able to manage a no-tax-increase budget in lean economic times due to lower-than-expected expenses for public safety, health insurance, wages, employee benefits and workers' comp. "It has saved a considerable amount of money," Krajniak said.
However, because the city's property tax revenue is down $178,000 and its amount of shared revenue to come from the state dropped by $77,000 for a total of $255,000 less in revenue, the no-tax-increase budget may not hold true next fiscal year.
There will be "no tax increases at this time," he said. "We can revisit this decision in the fall."
Park resident Tim Prophit spoke after the budget passed to say that holding the line on a tax increase does not mean residents aren't paying more.
"We have overvalued our properties, which is a tax increase because we are paying more than we should," he told the council and audience.
Residents will pay a higher water and sewer fee of $8.47 per billing cycle to cover the costs passed on to municipalities by Detroit Water & Sewerage, which operates the system.
There may yet be more budget savings if the Pointes share more services, including fire and police. The Park is in discussions with the Farms about sharing fire services, and the Park has bid on a contract to provide the City with dispatch services. If approved, the Park would generate revenue of about $90,000 annually while the City would save $140,000 a year, Krajniak said.
City Councilwoman Laurie Arora approved the budget, but asked that next year the council be given more than two weeks to review and discuss the budget.
"My only request is we start the budget process earlier," she said. "The first we saw the budget was two weeks ago, and it was rushed. If we could just be included earlier, and maybe include department heads ... ."
Without time and input, she said, there is no way to know if cuts may be pointless or become problematic.
"There could be cuts we're suggesting in the departments that make no sense, but we don't know that without their input and they're on the front line," she said.
Arora also requested a cost report on the city's amenities such as the movie theater and gym. The information could help guide spending, along with marketing and promoting the amenities so that they pay for themselves or make a profit.
Councilman Daniel Grano said not raising taxes is an accomplishment during a recession and shows that the city is "tightening our belts like our citizens."