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Roseville, Eastpointe

January 7, 2013

Cities look back but move forward

By Sara Kandel
C & G Staff Writer

EASTPOINTE/ROSEVILLE — At the start of 2013, city officials look ahead to what the year will bring, while reflecting on the ups and downs of the past year.

They share the same story. In both Roseville and Eastpointe, property values continued to drop throughout the 2012 year, the unemployment rate remained high and keeping the structural deficit at bay was an unending struggle.

It wasn’t all bad, though, as 2012 brought notable accomplishments for both cities, in areas ranging from expenditure cuts to community events and redevelopment. These achievements have officials from both cities looking forward with optimism and pride.

“We know it’s only a matter of time before things stabilize, but we have to yet go through at least another year, another taxation cycle, before they begin to level out, but we are moving forward,” said Roseville City Manager Scott Adkins. “We have a plan and we are being proactive. We are going to get through this together.”

In Roseville, property values will likely decline by an estimated 7-9 percent this year before finally beginning to stabilize in 2014. In Eastpointe, the numbers tell a similar story with property values estimated to drop by a few percent this year.

“We continue to look at an economic situation that is unpredictable and unstable at best, but with that said, all is not lost, because we have been able to achieve a number of things this past year and put a number of pieces together that have helped our financial situation,” Adkins said, listing the cost savings that came with renegotiated union contracts and health plans, internal reconstruction, the development of the recreational authority and the successful first year of shared dispatch services with the South East Regional Emergency Services Authority.

Eastpointe achieved much of the same, doing collaborative work and successfully renegotiating contracts with all five of the city’s unions, an internal reconstruction that slashed the number of executive directors.

“Property values have continued to be regressive and the community has faced high unemployment, but in 2012, we successfully adopted and implemented a new strategic financial plan and operations guide that has gone a long way in helping us cut down at the deficit, and in 2013, I think people will see a budget where we work very hard to operate within our revenues, because it really is a very lean and tight operation,” said City Manager Steve Duchane.

It’s an uphill trail and both cities will have to continue to find new ways to offset the continuing decline in revenues, but their efforts throughout the past 12 months should at least help level the ground during the next 12 months.

“I think the number of employees and the level of service will remain consistent throughout the 12-month period,” Duchane said.

“We might look at a way to set up funding for streetlights, in moving forward to a more township-like setup where we have individual revenues for specific services, hoping to get a handle on these areas where we are really choked by state limitations. We will definitely be looking at public safety and how to put more officers on the streets, but I don’t think people will see the substantial changes in local government that they did this past year, with the rubbish billing or nonprofit ambulance service.”

Roseville residents might see some of the same, as city officials said they will continue to discuss possible collaborations with nearby communities and organizations, but what residents will definitely see, or hear about, in 2013 is a revamped and improved take on redevelopment in the city.

“Our redevelopment activities and the council’s support of those activities are beginning to produce results, so there are things that are a glimmer of hope as we move forward,” Adkins said.

“We are hopeful that we will have the redevelopment-ready designation by mid-year, and that will be a great shot in the arm for the city, but also on the redevelopment scope, we will have the reinvestment plan for Gratiot and Groesbeck completed roughly around the same period of time. … Everything we do is to make Roseville better tomorrow than it is today.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Sara Kandel at skandel@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1030.