2018 budget passed in Center Line

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published June 14, 2017

CENTER LINE — The five members of the Center Line City Council gathered for a scheduled meeting June 5, where they unanimously signed off on an amended budget that eliminates some raises and scales back others for top administrators.

“The 2018 operating budget was adopted with the changes that were suggested at the last budget workshop meeting,” City Manager Dennis Champine said June 7.

Those changes include the elimination of a raise for Champine, one he said previously he requested after reviewing the compensation of his peers in other communities.

Champine was hired as Center Line’s city manager in 2015 and had requested an increase that would have taken him from $70,000 to $90,000 annually. At a budget workshop meeting last month, the council voted 3-2 to remove raises for the city manager, treasurer and public safety director. Raises for the deputy clerk and deputy treasurer were scaled back, while others were approved as recommended.

Last week, Champine declined to further discuss the council’s action regarding his pay and that of other administrators, and instead praised council members for their work to adopt a “solid budget.”

“This budget was still preserved with a slight decrease in the millage rate. Those things that the council added at the previous workshop meeting were drawn from the fund balance,” Champine said. “It’s been very responsible budgeting on the city’s part, and I applaud the council  for working with us to come to a good budget that will increase full-time positions. A total of three full-time positions will be created under this new budget. That’s certainly one of our goals, to try to get the workforce strong again, and the council was obviously good about making sure that mindset was supported.”

Champine said one full-time position will be added in the city’s Department of Public Works, while the Public Safety Department and Parks and Recreation Department will each see a part-time position increased to full time.

“We are moving the city in the right direction. I applaud the council for their commitment to keeping our budget right. We still have a very strong fund balance. Between our treasurer and my office and the council, I believe we did come to a good resolution with the budget,” Champine said.

Center Line City Councilwoman Mary Hafner cast one of the three votes to remove the raises during the budget workshop held May 22. She was joined by council members Ron Lapham and James Reid. Hafner also cast the lone vote against adoption of the city’s water and sewer rate for the coming year, and later indicated that she would have preferred to see the included water meter charge reduced so many years after the new meters were installed citywide.

“It’s OK. I questioned a few things,” Hafner said. “It is what it is. I’m glad the taxes did not go up. It’s fine. That’s all I can say about it. It’s a workable budget.”

In addition to the unanimous approval of the $8.3 million spending plan for the coming fiscal year, the council voted 5-0 to approve both the city’s tax rate and solid waste disposal rate.

Heather Hames, who serves as Center Line’s library director and parks and recreation director, said the budget as approved will increase her materials funding to $40,000. That’s up from $30,000 in recent years.

“We’re back up to where we were about 10 years ago, which is really, really nice,” Hames said. “We experienced those cuts over the years. Those cuts impacted the books budget.”