Refuse authority’s new budget mirrors 2017-18 budget

By: K. Michelle Moran | C&G Newspapers | Published May 15, 2018

HARPER WOODS — An increased administrative fee that took effect at the start of the last fiscal year on July 1, 2017, appears to have had the desired effect of covering administrative expenses for the Grosse Pointes-Clinton Refuse Disposal Authority.

“It’s looking like it’s going to keep us in a positive position this year, but just barely,” said certified public accountant Lynn Gustafson, who handles the finances for the GPCRDA, after a May 8 GPCRDA Board meeting in Harper Woods.

In January 2017, the GPCRDA Board voted unanimously in favor of increasing the administrative fee charged to each member community from $1 per ton of trash to $3 per ton. The board decided to make the new fee effective as of the beginning of the 2017-18 fiscal year. It was the first administrative fee increase since the GPCRDA’s former incinerator closed in 1999.

The fee was instituted to cover expenses incurred by the authority, including legal, financial and insurance costs, but after the 2014 loss of GPCRDA member communities Clinton Township and Mount Clemens — whose larger tonnage raised a correspondingly larger amount of funds for administration — the GPCRDA began relying on its fund balance to cover overages, rather than asking its members to pay a higher rate. Those two communities accounted for an estimated 60 percent of administrative fee revenues. The remaining GPCRDA members — the five Grosse Pointes and Harper Woods — are all smaller cities with lower tonnage rates.

Since implementing the $3 per ton fee last year, the GPCRDA is no longer drawing down its fund balance to cover expenses.

During the May 8 meeting, the GPCRDA Board voted unanimously in favor of a budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year. Gustafson said the budget of just under $500,000 is almost identical to its immediate predecessor.

“Do you predict that we’re going to have to make another contribution (to the pension)?” asked GPCRDA Treasurer Dale Krajniak.

Gustafson said she did budget $26,068 in 2018-19 for the pension “in case we need it,” but added that they won’t get word on whether they need to make another pension contribution this year until July, after the new fiscal year begins.

GPCRDA Board Chair Brett Smith praised Gustafson after the meeting for keeping all of the finances in order.

“I think we’re on the right track,” Smith said. “Lynn is doing a phenomenal job. We’d be lost without her.”