Ypsilanti City Council approves budget with no staff layoffs
The Ypsilanti City Council voted unanimously in favor of city budgets for fiscal years 2012-13 and 2014-15 that would allow for the city to realize a surplus instead of a deficit.
Across all funds, the budget shows $31.8 million in revenue and $31.6 million in expenditures for fiscal year 2012-13, including $13.7 million in general fund spending.
For fiscal year 2013-14, revenue will show a slight decrease to $30.7 million and expenditures will amount to $30.6 million. The city is expected to spend about $13.4 million of the general fund.
Council member Peter Murdock proposed budget amendments that created a surplus of $8,682 in 2012-13 and $382,514 in 2014-15.
Council was quick to point out that the approved budget does not have any actual layoffs.
“Given our circumstances, I think we’ve done a couple of things,” Murdock said. “We reduced a few positions, but there are no actual layoffs. Some of the positions are predicated on grants being successful.”
Instead of layoffs, the fire department will reduce its force by three in 2013 by attrition, with the elimination of a vacant position and two retirements towards the end of 2012.
However, council noted that unless grants are received—particularly the SAFER grant that the fire department applied for earlier this year— the department may be reduced by additional four positions in 2014.
“We’ve tightened up some things because the reality here is we have a lot of issues on our plate,” Murdock said. “ We left some wiggle room in 2014 for things to be adjusted and maneuvered. We haven’t locked ourselves into a total box.”
The police department will eliminate a records clerk and one police officer position in fiscal year 2013-14, a move that is expected to save $134,460.
The department also faces the possibility of two police officer positions being eliminated in 2014 unless grant funding is received.
Council member Michael Bodary said these budgets have simply put a “Band-Aid” on the situation of not having to directly lay anyone off right now— he reiterated that can change.
“When 2013-14 comes around, it can be a different situation,” Bodary said. “We’re not out of the woods yet. This budget process has been a very difficult thing and in the last three years I’ve been here I haven’t seen anything like it.”
Mayor Pro-Tem Lois Richardson said she believes this is “the worst financial situation” the city has been in.
“What we have done is certainly by no means putting a new roof on the house, but it stops a leak from damaging the inside,” Richardson said. “I think we have something we can live with for now (that will) get us to where we can deal with the more serious problems in a better way.”
Mayor Paul Schreiber echoed the sentiments that this is only a short-term fix to a potentially long-term problem down the road.
“This is a two year budget,” Schreiber said. “A five year budget just doesn’t work right now Mr. Lange, the city manager, is aware of the challenges we face and he’s already thinking of ways that the city can restructure itself and it’s going to be hard and painful.
"But at least today we have a balanced budget for fiscal years '13 and '14.”
Ypsilanti resident Bob Levy was relieved to discover the city council decided not to immediately cut any jobs, particularly those in the fire and police departments.
"I'm glad we still have a good police and fire department ran by competent people, and this is something that should be our first priority," Levy said.