Officials in inched forward in their budget process Tuesday night during a committee of the whole meeting.
Like many communities, Grosse Pointe Shores is facing a budget shortfall this year. City Manager Brian Vick put the city’s current shortfall at $350,000—or 1.25 mils. That’s a significant number for a relatively small community.
Tuesday’s meeting was purely informational, with council members, the council president and city manager merely discussing issues in front of a miniscule crowd.
During the gathering, Vick handed out several updated financial papers to the council–stressing, however, that it really wasn’t any new information; it was just the same information presented in a different way.
“There’s nothing specific that’s going to be earth-shattering,” he said.
While nothing will be formally decided until a regular council meeting, Vick hinted that he supported at least a 1.25-mils tax increase and would actually go so far as to try and levy a 1.75-mil increase.
Vick focused the discussion by saying that Grosse Pointe Shores is a community that doesn’t just raise tax rates for the sake of generating money. The city only does it when necessary.
“I think we do have a philosophy,” he said. “We do the right thing by keeping money in the residents’ pocket. Then, when the time is right, we’ll adjust it.”
Mayor James Cooper agreed.
“When we needed money we went to the residents and asked for it,” he said. “Since 2008 we’ve had a change in the economy.”
At issue in the city as well are staffing levels. The city’s police department is currently down two officers–one to another job and one to an injury. One of the cost-saving moves being considered is not filling the open spot, much to the chagrin of councilman Ted Kedzierski, who maintains that he doesn’t think going without the officer is a good idea.
Public Safety Director Stephen Poloni said that by utilizing overtime he believes his department could survive at current staffing levels for another year.
“If we lose another officer, though, I’ll be asking for a raise so I can move my bed in,” he said, joking.
Another important note at the meeting was a possible 9 percent water and sewage increase that Vick said would actually only cover Grosse Pointe Shores’ cost–not generate any monies for the fund balance.
“That’s just to maintain,” he said, citing a recent announcement by the city of Detroit Water and Sewer Department that they would be increasing rates to the suburbs in an effort to balance their budget again this year.
Other possible changes include modifications to the city’s equipment funding and the possible elimination of two proposed road projects.
Over the past two years, Grosse Pointe Shores has balanced its budget by making cuts rather than asking for a millage. Those cuts include reducing the city manager and municipal judge compensation, among numerous other cuts.
Things might be different this year, though, Vick stressed.
“I don’t want to cut to the bone to pass a budget,” he said.
Grosse Pointe Shores’ next Town Hall Meeting for residents will be held at 7 p.m. June 7.