Council to review changes to fiscal plan

By: Kevin Bunch | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published March 29, 2016

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EASTPOINTE — The Eastpointe City Council has until its June 7 meeting to review changes to its fiscal management plan, following discussion at its regular March 15 meeting.

The plan aims to provide goals and strategies to serve as guidelines for budget planning and management, according to the document’s introduction. Following last year’s public safety millage approval, City Manager Steve Duchane told council members that a number of items previously in the plan are no longer necessary.

“There are a number of things I’m happy to say we no longer need in our fiscal management plan,” Duchane said. “As I present the recommended budget, you’ll be talking about some of these areas (in the plan).”

The budget presentation is scheduled for April 19, at which time a final draft for the fiscal management plan will be presented to council, Duchane said. The council will still have the option to make adjustments to the plan until June 7, when the budget will be finalized.

Among the stricken sections, he said, are parts of the emergency financial plan that are now unnecessary since the city’s budget has stabilized, and some changes to the city’s emergency reserves planning, as it now has the money available to meet those goals.

Duchane said that in years past when the city was in financial trouble, council had amended the plan to only put money away into the general fund balance reserves if the city had any left after budgeting for items like infrastructure and safety; in practice, this meant no money was available to save, as the city had to pull money from its general fund balance to remain solvent.

The city’s plan now requests 1 percent of general fund revenues for the previous five fiscal years held for emergency reserves, with another 4.4 percent as an operating reserve. All of that must be done before the city determines how much is left to spend.

Other items removed from the plan include contingencies for cashing out infrastructure funds, reducing services and filing with the Michigan Department of Treasury a notice of impending financial crisis — all things Duchane said are not needed at this time.

“All those can come out, and we can go back to the important and positive parts of fiscal management, which I’m glad to say happened,” Duchane said.

Councilman Cardi DeMonaco asked why Duchane does not want to revisit the plan until June 7. Duchane told him that he wants to make sure everyone on council has a chance to go through the plan.

“By then you’ll have the (proposed) budget, and June 7 is the hearing for the budget,” Duchane said. “I just want more opportunity for people to look it over.”

Councilman John Marion felt that the plan’s usage of “chief financial officer” to refer to Finance Director Randy Blum should be changed to reflect Blum’s actual title.

“(It’s like) we’re changing hats in here (even though) it’s kind of like the same person,” Marion said.

Mayor Suzanne Pixley asked if the plan will have any effect on budget preparation, and Duchane said it should not.