New OL budget has reduced millage, new police officers

By: Sherri Kolade | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published June 19, 2013

ORCHARD LAKE — The new city budget includes a $151,822 increase in the retiree health care fund, an $85,000 boost to the local road fund and the hiring of three police officers. 

City Council approved the city’s budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year during a meeting May 20.

“We’ve been able to do all of that and still reduce the millage, surprisingly enough,” Orchard Lake Mayor Joe Majcher told C & G Newspapers recently. “The reason we have been able to do that is (because) we paid off our nature sanctuary, and water and sewer 20-year debt bonds. That — probably more than anything else — has given us some flexibility here, finally, with our budget.”

The 2013-14 general fund balance starts the next fiscal year, which runs July 1 through June 30, at $512,017, ending with $424,486, according to a 2013-16 proposed budget city document.

This year’s budget has the city’s current millage rate at 6.19 mills, plus a water levy of 0.73 mills and sewer at 1.6 mills; both levies were paid off this year, a city official noted. Next fiscal year, the city’s operating budget will be 7.36 mills, a lower millage rate overall, said Gerry McCallum, director of city services.

“The budget takes into account the hire of an additional (full-time) police officer, and that is pretty critical because that is a huge cost — one additional full-time and two more part-time officers,” he said recently. “About two to three years ago, we had a (police) retirement that they didn’t replace, due to budget issues.”

He said that because the city’s debt is paid off, the finance committee and the City Council recognized that it is time for the city’s police force to be back to full staffing from several years ago.

In 2013-14, a full-time police officer will earn $45,875; the salary includes benefits. Both part-time officers would make $18 an hour; their work hours are varied, according to a city official.

McCallum said that although the city charter states that City Council must adopt one budget per fiscal year, he is looking several years out.

“What we’ve done this year is also look at a multi-year budget, two to three years out,” he said. “When most communities are going to the (multi-year) budget, we are looking at the three-year budget, and we may do a charter amendment to adopt a three-year budget.

“The three-year budget process is very useful in determining future expenditures,” McCallum noted in a May budget cover letter. “And this concept should be incorporated in future budget discussions as policy.”

Included in next year’s budget is a $70,000 increase in ground maintenance for the City Hall parking lot, and a nearly $6,800 increase in fire services, for a total of $287,500 for the department; last year, the budget was $280,710.

Majcher said being able to pay off the nature sanctuary and water and sewer 20-year debt bonds lets the city focus on reallocating funds and getting back to some of the day-to-day needs of the city, which is “real good news.”

“We have been kicking the can down the road for awhile, so we are able to finally do that. … (It’s) actually very encouraging. We are on our way for the next year,” Majcher said.