Council considers budget midway through fiscal year

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published April 6, 2016

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — Halfway through the fiscal year, most departments in the city have spent less than half of their planned expenditures.

Both the Police and Fire departments have spent less so far this year than in the prior fiscal year, according to a second-quarter budget report provided by city Finance Director Doug Haag March 21. 

In bringing the second-quarter budget amendments before City Council, Haag said that this year, actual revenues are at 69 percent of budget midway through the year, compared with 65 percent of budget at this time during the last fiscal year. However, he said, the city has brought in less money in 2015-16 than at the same point in fiscal year 2014-15, with $20,979,114 in revenues until Dec. 31, 2015, compared with $21,014,831 at that date in 2014.

Ambulance fees are trending less this year than at the same time last year by $124,444. The city switched billing companies in July 2015, and there has been a lag in implementing the new system, Smith told City Council.

“We have runs that we’ve submitted to the billing company that haven’t crossed our path yet,” he said. “Based on our run numbers ... I have no reason to believe our revenue this year will be different.”

But Councilman Peter Rubino said the new company has to catch up. 

“Every dollar that takes six months for us to get costs us money,” he said. “They need to get up to speed.”

Mayor Kip Walby explained that the former billing company is preventing the new company from using the software needed to bill for ambulance runs. At the same time, he said, “Nine months and they can’t get it right — that’s not good.”

The city also considered budget amendments for the second quarter.

The biggest amendment recorded during that quarter was an increase of $307,585, which was received from the state to compensate for personal property taxes lost over the past two fiscal years after the Personal Property Tax Reform that was enacted in 2014. Smith said that even though the state said at the time that it would still give municipalities the money they were losing, “We didn’t budget that money.”

Haag agreed that St. Clair Shores took a conservative approach. 

“Especially if there was any money forthcoming, it was two years down the road,” he said March 21. “That’s why we’re bringing it forward tonight.”

Smith said that is slightly less than the city would have received if businesses still paid the personal property tax.

Another large budget amendment was the allocation of $101,000 for LED streetlight replacement. 

“It wasn’t something we could pre-budget for,” said Community Development and Inspection Director Chris Rayes. “It’s really something we’ve been negotiating year to year with DTE (Energy).”

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