Madison Heights City Council approves budget for FY 2024-25

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison-Park News | Published May 30, 2024

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MADISON HEIGHTS — While the budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 in Madison Heights features a lower millage rate, officials say that most residents can expect a slight increase in taxes due to rising property values.

The Madison Heights City Council unanimously approved the budget for fiscal year 2024-25 during its regular meeting May 13. The budget clocks in at $66 million, up from the current year’s amended total of $65.4 million. The total millage rate is reduced by about 0.1 mill.

Prior to casting his vote, Mayor Pro Tem Mark Bliss said the new budget is a great value.

“I think for me, as a resident and taxpayer, knowing this is a lower tax rate year over year, and knowing the city could tax more but we’re choosing to keep it as low as we possibly can, I think that’s a highlight, and a real testament to our staff and council,” Bliss said. “We’re able to continue providing the services and investments that the community needs, without adding to the inflation all of us are living with right now.”

Of the $66 million, $42.7 million is assigned for the general fund, which covers the bulk of city operations including general administration, police, fire, emergency medical services, library, parks, recreation, city clerk and elections. Also included are special millages for senior citizens, solid waste, the drain debt, neighborhood road improvements, and police and fire retiree benefits.

The total millage rate covers the general fund and will be set at 25.4572 mills in fiscal year 2024-25. This is down slightly from the current year’s 25.5288 mills. The city collects $1 for every $1,000 of a property’s taxable value, multiplied by the millage rate.

City Manager Melissa Marsh noted that the city reduced its millage rate to help offset the effects of inflation. In terms of utilities, the water and sewer rate is increasing by roughly 4%.

“Madison Heights is still one of the lowest rates in the area,” Marsh said in an email. “This is required to continue to maintain and replace the water infrastructure in the city, and also pass through the increases from our third-party providers for water and wastewater treatment.”

Marsh also noted that the city is not projecting any use of fund balance in the coming fiscal year. The city expects to have $9 million in fund balance by the end of the new fiscal year.

“This is in line with the city fund balance policy to protect against having a balance that is too high without a designated purpose, or too low as to not be able to handle an emergency,” she said.

About $10.2 million is planned for capital improvements. Some notable projects include about $1.4 million in parks improvements — some started in the current fiscal year — that include the addition of pickleball courts and a pavilion at Rosie’s Park, and baseball field lighting improvements.

Other projects include water main replacements on sections of Diesing Drive, Groveland Street, East Rowland Avenue and Edward Avenue, as well as road improvements on sections of Brush Street, Palmer Street and Hampden Street. The budget also invests in the library makerspace, traffic safety improvements and public safety equipment.

On the note of public safety, staffing levels at the Fire Department will increase in the coming fiscal year 2024-25 to better manage call volume, with three new emergency medical technicians added full time.

Madison Heights City Councilman Quinn Wright said he and his peers also thought about how the city could be more eco-friendly.

“One of the things we were attentive to is our environmental impact,” Wright said. “We’re very excited to roll out a program next year, if not this year, where residents will receive new recycling and trash receptacles. That should help not only with the efficiency of our trash pickup, but also lower the rodent population, and reduce some other issues folks have with their trash.”

Marsh said that the city expects to bring in more revenue during the new fiscal year while seeking grants to maximize funding. She said the budget is once again focused on the city’s long-term financial stability, with key priorities being infrastructure, public safety, sustainability and quality of life.

“The city takes pride in its sound financial management, prudent allocation of limited resources and steadfast commitment to long-term planning,” Marsh said. “This budget once again is a testament to that work.”

Wright said he’s happy with the final package.

“I think our residents will be happy with it, too, from the perspective of quality-of-life elements and the addition of fire staff and improvements to the parks, as well as the cost savings,” Wright said. “It shows what we can accomplish when council and staff work together.”

Roslyn Grafstein, the mayor of Madison Heights, said the city’s long-term planning approach has allowed the city to be flexible in uncertain economic times. Earlier this year, the city renewed contracts with labor unions that resulted in raises to help employees keep pace with the cost of living. And last fall, the city completed its largest capital improvement project in nearly 70 years. That project included renovations at City Hall and the library, a new Active Adult Center built between them at Civic Center Plaza, and renovations at Fire Station No. 2.

She said the city will continue to modernize, but also won’t lose sight of what matters most.

“As always, public safety is my top priority,” Grafstein said in an email. “It doesn’t matter how many new programs or services we offer if people do not feel safe.”