St. Clair Shores City Council to vote on proposed budget June 3

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published May 23, 2019

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — Pointing to the fact that the city is generally conservative in its budgeting, City Manager Mike Smith said that he was happy to have presented a “balanced budget” to the City Council for its consideration in June.

The general fund budget, as presented at the late April City Council budget hearings, calls for proposed revenues of $40,155,330 and expenditures of $40,238,011.

Smith explained that while the city would spend a little under $100,000 out of its fund balance if spending came in at the exact amount budgeted, that doesn’t typically happen.

“If we come in at our norm of 3% (positive budget variance), you’re talking about just south of $1 million that we come into the good,” he said.

What could affect that prospect, he said, is how high Lake St. Clair rises. The city can try to recoup some money if it has to go in and do work to shore up the coastline on private property, but on city property it cannot. Also, the cost of the sandbags and sand has to come out of the general fund, he said.

There is some good news on the revenue side of the budget, Smith said: Property tax revenue is up about $500,000, and state revenue sharing is projected to increase by about $300,000.

One of the biggest expenditures budgeted for the 2019-20 fiscal year is a new parking lot behind City Hall and the St. Clair Shores Public Library, which will cost about $1 million.

While police and fire employees are working under current contracts with a 2% wage increase, Smith said that the general employees contract will be up for renewal this year. He anticipates amending the budget later to reflect a wage increase, probably 2% like that of police and fire.

There are plans to add a full-time librarian to the library’s staff, Smith said. Much of that will be paid for by reducing temporary librarian hours.

“It’s near impossible to get part-time folks,” he said. “We get them and we train them and they leave for other (positions), and it’s not really a good investment.”

The full-time librarian will make $48,000 in wages with $24,000 in fringe benefits, and the library will reduce its temporary librarian hours by 1,000 hours.

St. Clair Shores will also replace three water mains, in addition to the two that were approved May 6.

The projects will be on Shock Street from 11 Mile Road to Martin Road, Harmon Street from Stephens Street to 10 Mile Road, and Evergreen Street from Harper Avenue to Greater Mack Avenue, in addition to Visnaw Street from Harper Avenue to Greater Mack Avenue and Englehardt Street from Edgewood Street to Mack Avenue.

The city also plans to purchase a new street sweeper and additions to the system it uses to read pressures at all the water mains in the city.

“Water comes into the city at four different locations, not including our tank,” Smith said. “We need to control how those pressures are coming in from all of those sources so we don’t get fluctuations. Fifty-year-old pipes do not react well to shock waves.”

Other capital expenditures include the purchase of three additional Lucas 3 devices, which give mechanical chest compressions in CPR, and a new cardiac monitor for the Fire Department. The Police Department will have several vehicle replacements throughout the year and is due to have computers replaced in August 2020. Smith said that was added to the IT budget now so it would not be a surprise for the new city manager.

In addition, the irrigation system will be replaced at Kyte Monroe Park for $150,000.

Smith said that the city proposes passing along a 3.9% water rate increase from the Great Lakes Water Authority, but no increase on sewer rates. In addition, the police and fire pension millage will increase by 0.15 mill. No other tax rates are planned to be increased, Smith said.

The City Council will vote on millage and water rates, as well as whether to approve the proposed budget, at its June 3 meeting.

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