Not Done Yet: Financial Planning Committee Continues To Finalize Presentation
The Financial Planning Committee met for the last time before the formal presentation to Council Wednesday night.
The Financial Planning Committee held its last meeting Wednesday night before it formally presents its research to City Council on Monday.
The evening was spent finalizing the words and sentences of the public document it will hand over to Council next week. While the meeting was better attended than the previous six, with eight people in the audience at the Gerry Kulick Community Center, most had left halfway through the meeting.
The few who spoke during public comment Wednesday challenged the recommendation the committee laid out Dec. 30 at a public forum at city hall.
Its recommendation was a Headlee Override, a tax-increasing measure to help fill the gap of the looming budget deficits.
Resident Sean House listed cost-cutting measures he'd rather see than a tax increase.
"We could eliminate the DDA. Have business do sponsorships. Have the business community get involved in sponsorships of something. They could sponsor parking meters or other things. How about leasing city land? There's an awful lot of land and city property," House explained to the committee.
"The thing is, these things you're presenting are already in our presentation," committee member and Ferndale resident Scott Helmer said.
House also listed off wage freezes and cutting parks and recreation from the city's budget.
The Headlee Override, if voted through by Ferndale residents, would allow Council to increase the city operating millage from 14.4558 mils to the state maximum 20 mils. The maximum increase of 5.4552 mils would be about an 11.4 percent increase in property taxes. The average taxable value of a home in Ferndale is about $40,000, which would be about $218 more annually in property taxes.
Ferndale is facing a $2.1 million deficit next year and a cumulative deficit over the next three of $9.9 million if cost cutting and revenue increasing measures aren't taken.
If a Headlee Override is passed, however, the revenue generated will still not cover the entire budget and the committee is recommending various cuts for Council to consider. Those cuts include $750,000 to the public safety operating budget.
Council has the ultimate say on what goes on the ballot, if anything, and what cuts will be made.
"Council has the option to mix and match," committee member Greg Pawlica said.
The Headlee Override, if accepted by Council, would have to go on a special election ballot in May so those extra mils could be levied on July's taxes.
"The Council can do whatever they want but ultimately the voters have the say," committee member Mark Van Dyke said. "We are recommending our findings to the Council who put it on the ballot for the citizen and at the end of the day the citizen can say 'yay,' or 'nay.'"
The Council-appointed committee has been meeting for the last 14 weeks. They were charged with the task of finding ways the city can cut expenses by 10 percent and increase revenue by 15 percent.