Pictured is a walking, running and bike path in the city of Orchard Lake Village. Orchard Lake Director of City Services Gerry McCallum said the city is going to probably spend close to half a million dollars on road paving this year.

Pictured is a walking, running and bike path in the city of Orchard Lake Village. Orchard Lake Director of City Services Gerry McCallum said the city is going to probably spend close to half a million dollars on road paving this year.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Orchard Lake to fix local roads

City officials reflect on financials in light of COVID

By: Mark Vest | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published September 17, 2020

 When discussing the financial situation of Orchard Lake Village, director of city services Gerry McCallum said it’s a “very stable community.”

When discussing the financial situation of Orchard Lake Village, director of city services Gerry McCallum said it’s a “very stable community.”

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

 Dave Boerger, who is part of Orchard Lake Village’s finance committee, said the way finances have been managed in the city has been “outstanding.”

Dave Boerger, who is part of Orchard Lake Village’s finance committee, said the way finances have been managed in the city has been “outstanding.”

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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ORCHARD LAKE — Despite the economic uncertainty that has gripped so many areas of the country, Orchard Lake Village Director of City Services Gerry McCallum recently said the city is a “very stable community.”

He shared one of the reasons he considers that to be the case.

“We have a millage rate that has not been raised in the last four or five years,” McCallum said.

McCallum said the operating millage is 8.06 mills, with a library millage at 0.3 mills.

Having sound finances can also help the city move forward with improvement projects.

One item on the agenda is road-paving projects.

“We have a capital outlaid plan for road improvements,” McCallum said. “We are still going through that process. We are watching our budget very, very closely, based upon the fact that we can have an impact on not only our road revenue, but we’re also talking about general fund revenue that we get through the state as far as statutory revenue.”

McCallum discussed some of the particulars of the road-paving projects.

“This year, we’re (going to) spend probably close to half a million dollars on road paving,” he said. “These are local roads; these are roads within subdivisions. We paid it through our general fund and our road revenue fund, so the residents don’t have a special assessment district for road paving. It’s all paid through their taxes.”

According to McCallum, road revenue comes from the Michigan Department of Transportation through Public Act 51.

McCallum said the city is focusing on the Hickory Pointe subdivision, which has “been put off for many, many years.”

He expects the project to begin later this month or in October and to take about a week to complete.

Aside from financial stability and road-paving projects, something else that might please some Orchard Lake residents is less traffic congestion, which Dave Boerger, a former Orchard Lake mayor and City Council member and now part of the city’s finance committee, attributes to so many people working from home due to the pandemic.

“It’s a nice side-bar to this whole thing,” Boerger said. “Doesn’t offset the negatives, obviously, but it is a nuance and outcome from this. We’ve been having concerns about traffic congestion and back-ups, and adding lanes here and there, trying to figure out how to do that over the years. As long as this continues, working from home, and I think it will, even after (the) virus is over, that it will be a positive for traffic congestion in our city.”

Boerger said there was a point in time when traffic congestion was the “No. 1 issue on people’s mind.”

However, he thinks there is currently a different “No. 1 issue.”

“I think now it’s basically to make sure our Police Department is able to meet the needs of the citizens and provide the protection required,” Boerger said. “We’ve invested extensively in the Police Department to make sure it has the latest and greatest technologies. That’s No. 1 on our citizens’ mind right now, is police protection.”

  McCallum shared his perspective as to why the city hasn’t had any millage rate increases in a while.

“Good stewardship by our City Council, being fiscally responsible,” he said. “I think kudos go out to staff, also, for keeping the expenditures in line. And I think it’s the financial stability that has been a custom throughout the years for this small community.”

McCallum said the city’s finance committee plays a major role in having an impact on the millage rate, and McCallum said Boerger has been “instrumental through the years on developing a budget process for us.”

Boerger provided his take as to how well finances have been managed in Orchard Lake.

“For a long, long time, it’s been outstanding,” he said. “It saved us during the Great Recession and again this time, with COVID, fortunately, and allowed us to have a healthy fund balance during both of those periods.”

From Boerger’s perspective, keeping the millage at a reasonable rate is no small matter.

“I think it’s very important,” he said. “Property values in Orchard Lake tend to be on the high end. The property taxes are the product of your millage rate times your assessed value, and that keeps taxes low and keeps property values, keeps them positive, as well. As a result, I think it’s a good balance for our citizens to give good service, especially police and fire, while at the same time keeping the millage rates low and the taxes from going up dramatically.”

The ability to manage debt is also key.

“I think the debt is zero,” Boerger said. “That helps keep our property taxes, down as well. … Not having debt, when there’s especially a recession or a crisis like we have, is good because if you were loaded down with debt, it would just add more expenses you have to deal with. Without debt load, there’s less risk.”

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