Fouts delivers ‘positive’ budget before Warren City Council

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published April 17, 2017

Advertisement

WARREN — Warren has a good chunk of money in the bank, its residents enjoy outstanding services, and the city is poised to take on its problems with basement flooding and ramshackle trailer parks. There will be no tax increases, nor any employee layoffs.

That was the gist of the budget address given by Mayor Jim Fouts April 11, delivered live before members of the Warren City Council, immediately preceding their regular meeting.

The mayor broke with tradition when he opted to pre-record his State of the City remarks last month, reportedly to avoid disruptions from those he likened on Facebook to “nasty naysayers” calling for his resignation in the wake of the release of controversial audio recordings that feature a voice that sounds like his disparaging blacks, the mentally disabled and older women.

Warren mayors don’t normally attend City Council meetings and they do not serve on the body. In the past, Fouts and other mayors have typically attended the sessions only at budget time to outline a proposed spending plan for the coming fiscal year.

This time around, Fouts laid out his vision for a total budget of $234,688,180 for 2017-18 that would include $112,962,700 in expenditures from the city’s general fund.

The mayor also proposed the transfer of $7.2 million from the city’s “rainy day” fund of $66 million to balance the budget, and he called the fund balance “robust” and “growing.”

“The budget is a very positive, upbeat budget,” Fouts told the Warren Weekly April 13. “We’ve got a lot of things to brag about. We’re the No. 1 city in fund balance. We have the strongest fund balance in the metro area.”

Fouts also praised a recent report that placed Warren at the top of a list of Michigan cities with substantial industrial assessments. He credited big-time investments by General Motors, FCA Automobiles and others.  

“That means jobs, jobs, jobs and more revenue, which means less pressure on our citizens to have to support things,” Fouts told members of the council.

He said the city’s strong financial position has given Warren the leverage to refinance bond debt and save even more money, which he said will be especially important with a major capital investment in the city’s storm sewer infrastructure on the horizon, with the construction of a $15 million gallon detention basin, to be paid for by a $53 million bond issue.

“I want to thank most of the council for agreeing to the detention basin, which will hopefully once and for all solve the problem of flooding,” Fouts said. “Finally, for many people that are tired of flooded basements, help is on the way.”

Fouts also said Warren will continue to invest in road repairs. Other ongoing projects will include continuing to explore options for bringing new businesses and residential lofts to the Civic Center area along Van Dyke, north of 12 Mile Road, and plans to construct a new municipal complex in south Warren, on Van Dyke south of Nine Mile Road. Slated for 2018, that project would involve a new fire station, police station, library and ancillary City Hall.

“This is an investment in the southern section of the city. We call this the forgotten area,” Fouts said. “We’re going to have a whole City Hall complex down there. I think it’s important to have a police and fire complex. It encourages people to move in.”

One of the new initiatives addressed by the mayor would aim to put increased pressure on dilapidated mobile home properties. The mayor said he has directed city attorneys to prepare a new ordinance for the City Council to consider later this month.

“We’re going to clean them up, and hopefully we can save some lives,” Fouts said. “For the first time, we’re going to be able to take on the problem of rat infestation in mobile homes, roaches, drugs and prostitution.”

Fouts said nearly two-thirds of Warren’s general fund goes toward public safety. He said, “We have the best fire and police departments in Michigan.”

The proposed budget is available online under the “Mayor’s Office” tab at www.cityofwarren.org.

Video of the mayor’s budget address to the City Council can be viewed online at vimeo.com/212981298.

The city must by law adopt a balanced budget before the fiscal year ends on June 30. Residents will have an opportunity to weigh in on the budget at a public hearing scheduled for 7 p.m. April 25 in the auditorium of the Warren Community Center, located at 5460 Arden Ave. At the conclusion of the public hearing, the City Council can choose to adopt the budget with or without amendments.

Look for updates to this story at www.candgnews.com or follow the Warren Weekly on Facebook at www.facebook.com/warrenweekly.

Advertisement