'Everyone has to cut': Ypsilanti looks at $520K in alternative budget reductions
At its special budget meeting held Thursday, the Ypsilanti City Council discussed alternative budget reduction ideas and said tough decisions need to be made in the coming months following the May 8 election in which voters rejected the proposed income tax and Water Street debt retirement millage.
Steve Pepple | AnnArbor.com
Revenues are down 2.6 percent from fiscal year 2012 and expenditures are down 5.85 percent.
Some of the proposed alternative budget reductions include the elimination of two full-time positions totaling $177,000 and not filling two vacant police positions because of retirement — that would save about $160,000. Council also is looking at the potential elimination of purchasing a $40,000 police vehicle.
In other areas, it was proposed to delay repairs totaling $68,000, not fill a $51,000 vacant records clerk position, and to eliminate a $20,000 purchase for a building department vehicle. These alternative budget reductions in total might save the city nearly $520,000.
The council was particularly concerned following Fire Chief Jon Ichesco’s presentation. Ichesco said the elimination of seven firefighter positions is likely. Ichesco said following cuts, there may be only four fighters per shift.
Council Member Peter Murdoch said the change will have a great impact on services.
“It’s a big fundamental change from what people are used to,” Murdoch said. “It’s going to change how we do business.”
Ichesco said the fire department has applied for a SAFER FEMA grant to fund potential staff recall.
After consulting an auditor, Ypsilanti Finance Director Marilou Uy said the city was advised to redistribute cash reserves as they “see fit.”
The city has nearly $10 million in reserves but Uy said that may be depleted by the end of fiscal year 2014 because of payments to the Water Street debt and transfers to cover general fund shortfalls. The city might have to pull $620,000 out of its savings to cover expenses.
Uy said the Water Street Committed Fund balance will be used up in fiscal year 2013-14 with a deficit of $3,415— which will be paid for by using general fund money.
The city might seek temporary uses for the Water Street redevelopment site though it is unclear what those may be.
Uy said the city is looking at a potential elimination of yard waste services and the recycling program. Uy has looked at the possibility of contracting out recycling to Waste management but she said that would require cost analysis to determine its feasibility.
Also on the table is the possible elimination of the Sanitation Millage. Uy said the city would seek proposals for this but essentially, residents would be billed directly for all services such as garbage and brush and yard waste.
David Kowal, director of administrative services, said he is expecting staffing levels to remain the same, yet additional interdepartmental position consolidation is possible. He said that would result in further cost savings.
Kowal said the city will see a decrease in temporary wages because the department intern will be working fewer hours following the completion of the new city website project in fiscal year 2011-12.
City Clerk Frances McMullan said City Council has realized a reduction in compensation and will carry that reduction through the 2012-13 fiscal year.
In an effort to further reduce costs, McMullan said the Council has eliminated membership to the MMAC and national League of Cities. Additional memberships and dues may be eliminated.
No council action was taken on the budget. Council will have two more budget meetings throughout May and there will be a first reading of the proposed budget on June 5. A second and final reading will be held June 19.
Noticebly absent from the meeting were residents—particularly supporters of the Stop City Income Tax group that campaigned against the two tax proposals.
Council Member Brian Robb said earlier in the week that he “looked forward” to a lot of people showing up at the budget meeting to offer suggestions.
Mayor Paul Schreiber said he didn’t have “expectations either way” in regards to them coming to the budget meeting.