St. Clair Shores City Council approves 2019-20 budget

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published June 10, 2019

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — Approving a lower millage rate than the one that was levied in 2018-19, the City Council voted to approve the approximately $40 million 2019-20 budget June 3.

With a Headlee Amendment rollback factor of 0.9849, the approved total millage rate of 24.9009 is less than the rate of 25.0240 that had been proposed in April, as well as the 25.2168 mills levied in 2018-19. Finance Director and Treasurer Doug Haag said, however, that because of increasing property values, most residents’ tax bills will actually increase by about $50 even as the millage rate decreases.

The City Council also approved a budget with $40.28 million in general fund revenues and $40.07 million in general fund expenditures after about $300,000 in changes were made to the general fund budget since its introduction in April. That means that if the budget is followed exactly throughout the fiscal year, the city will be able to add about $218,000 to the rainy day fund in June 2020.

Haag said the savings were found through a combination of some revenue increases and some reductions in expenditures.

Councilman John Caron pointed out, however, that the surplus may be used to fund an increase in general employee wages, as that contract is still in negotiation.

“I think we’re in good standing there to have that surplus going in,” Caron said. “We’re keeping control on the day-to-day expenses. The things that were being asked for made sense.”

He said he was pleased to see money being spent on capital improvements, street repairs and replacements, and water main replacements.

Mayor Kip Walby agreed that it is necessary spending.

“We’re an older community, and we need to continue to put money back into the community,” he said. “The stuff under the ground, which many people don’t see, is old and, in many cases, tired out.”

At the same meeting, the City Council also voted to approve increased sanitary sewage disposal rates and water rates from the Southeast Macomb Sanitary Sewer District and the Great Lakes Water Authority. The average residential customer will pay about 6% more for water and sewer beginning in July.

Councilman Chris Vitale said that he was upset having to pass along such a large increase from the GLWA at the same time that he saw the authority beginning a “brand awareness campaign” that he was told would cost $100,000.

“It would be enough to pay the salary of somebody to monitor water quality,” he said.

Vitale called the GLWA a “monopoly utility” and said that he could not see why the authority would need to increase awareness of its brand at the expense of water customers.

“This is an absolute waste of money. This disgusts me. There is no reason for this ... to raise brand awareness of a public utility that we are locked into with a 30-year contract,” he said.

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