The city of Macomb will spend more money than it brings in its new budget year that began Monday, May 1. City revenues are down and some expenses associated with employee health care and retirement are up. Overall the city’s general fund will be unbalanced by about $538,000 this fiscal year.
“Even though it is a deficit budget we can probably do this one year and we have some hard work in the next 12 months to figure out how we are going to get a balanced budget next year though,” said Alderman At Large Dennis Moon.
Despite the general fund deficit, City Administrator Dean Torreson said cash on hand is at a healthy level at more than $2.87 million.
Over the next year though, the city plans to work with each department to find ways to cut expenses, raise revenues, and get by with fewer employees.
The city’s $28 million dollar budget does includes 2.5% raises for all employees. Torreson said the raises are the result of negotiations with the city’s three bargaining units, which represent police, fire, and public works.
“Although we are going to have to look at cutting down on the number of positions that we have, we still have to be cognizant that we have highly trained employees that we want to keep. We don’t want them leaving for other towns or other jobs within the community,” Torreson said.
When it comes to reducing the workforce, Torreson said the city will first consider upcoming retirements and possible transfers. After that the city will examine whether full-time positions could be made part-time, and after that it will consider whether layoffs are needed.
As part of the tradeoff for employee raises, this year’s budget includes little money for capital improvement projects aside from about $40,000 for improvements to Spring Lake Park and another $14,000 for lawn mowers at the cemetery.
Macomb residents will see their water and sewer bills increase in the next year as the debt service fee portion of the water and sewer bill goes from $4 a month to $6. That fee helps repay E.P.A. loans the city took out for infrastructure improvements to the water system.
Mayor Mike Inman said the increase will affect all homes and businesses equally. It’s the only fee increase this year as the city plans to absorb the slight increase in costs for garbage collection.