Big year ahead: City budget proposal shows more spending and revenue | Local News
TRAVERSE CITY — Traverse City’s budget highlights for July-June 2023 include higher revenue, new hires, major capital projects and more.
But even fund-by-fund highlights don’t tell the whole story. City commissioners had more questions at the end of a three-hour study session that also included presentations on the Downtown Development Authority and Traverse City Light & Power budgets.
Draft spending plans call for spending $2.61 million more in the city’s general operating funds than projections for the current budget year, which ends May 31, documents show. That would bring it to $20,933,300 from the projected $18,323,300.
Revenues are also expected to rise, with about $615,000 more expected from property taxes than the previous year, City Manager Marty Colburn said.
He credited a booming real estate market, while noting that Michigan’s law capping mileage revenue was down about $400,000 from what the increase might have been.
Now the public has their chance to weigh in in a reunion that’s sure to be action-packed. In addition to the three-budget hearing, commissioners are scheduled to vote on non-medical marijuana retail rules, discuss a major project on US-31 between Division Street and Garfield Avenue and more.
“I expect a lot of solid discussions,” Commissioner Mi Stanley said.
Colburn recently gave an overview of much of the budget, including plans for five new hires in various departments. Of these, four would be funded from the city’s general operating fund.
The commissioners wanted to know about current and future plans to spend $1.6 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds, money from an opioid painkiller lawsuit and some new hire plans. These details and more are all found in a 167-page budget detailing the city’s spending, as well as its DDA and electric utility finances for the next 12 months.
Colburn repeated a suggestion from years past that commissioners ask city voters to lower the cap that drops the city’s mileage rate to 11.7688 from 12.0954.
Commissioner Ashlea Walter said she wanted to know more about a proposed new position of deputy city manager, and Mayor Richard Lewis suggested creating a provident fund to pay for salary increases for her office workers. and techniques.
James Henderson, the city’s chief financial officer, said previous estimates called for a 2% wage increase for the group to $60,000. Colburn said the band’s last salary study is 23 years old, so a new one is on the way.
Millions of capital projects loom on the horizon, such as major work on the city’s wastewater and drinking water systems, from treatment to distribution to treatment again at the end of the line .
Colburn suggested spending $200,000 on improving the tree canopy, noting that trees play a role in stormwater management, enhancing natural areas and more.
Plus, they help achieve the City Commission’s goal of connecting people to each other and to nature, Colburn said. It’s one of many goals in their annual strategic planning process, along with addressing housing and homelessness, working on the city’s various water systems, economic development, and taking taking climate change into account in city decisions.
Commissioner Mitchell Treadwell asked if the city and surrounding areas are big enough to become a metropolitan planning organization — according to the Federal Transit Administration, these groups represent an entire urbanized area of 50,000 or more people.
This could help the city work with neighbors to achieve another commission goal of improving access and mobility. Colburn said those organizations have their own federally funded transportation planner and also receive a small increase in federal funds.
Colburn said the city, the Northwest Michigan Department of Transportation and Networks are investigating the possibility and it appears recent population growth has hit the threshold. That’s both in total numbers and population density, although he added that he wasn’t sure.
Colburn told Stanley that the decision whether or not to form a metropolitan planning organization could come in the next fiscal year, but he wasn’t sure when.
Traverse City would spend its general fund balance to stick to the commissioners’ target of keeping it at between 15 and 20 per cent of the fund’s latest annual spending, Colburn said – right now it’s closer to 30 per cent. He anticipated having to spend even more, as inflation drove up the costs of projects and materials in all areas.
The current project would leave $6,885,800 by June 2023, compared to $7,459,500 expected after current budget year expenditures. It’s money the city can draw on for emergency expenses, so auditors generally recommend keeping it in a certain proportion, as discussed earlier.
Commissioners have time for another study session on May 23 before adopting the budget in June. Stanley said she reserved judgment on whether this would be necessary, and said she appreciates the effort put into such a detailed document that aims to achieve many of the city’s goals and objectives.
“These are all things that we are committed to working on, and I’m glad they’re coming before us,” she said. “Yes, there is a lot to look at, but these are all important issues that we need to tackle.”
The full budget is online at www.traversecitymi.gov/government/annual-budget/.
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