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Posted on Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 5:55 a.m.

Ypsilanti city manager: 5-year budget turnaround plan in the works

By Katrease Stafford

Ypsilanti City Manager Ralph Lange said he and his staff are working diligently to put together a 5-year plan to turn around the city's finances and return the budgets to a sustainable model.


Ralph Lange

Lange has dubbed his plan the City Master 5-year Budget Turnaround Service and Sustainable Plan. Lange said the plan will have some "meat on its bones" before the end of the month to offer council an insight into the budget.

"Just because you haven’t seen anything doesn’t mean we’re not working," Lange said to council. "We had to take the current budget and break it apart so it was clear to city staff and council how each budget was functioning on its own with dedicated revenue sources. That’s been a chore and it's not done, but we’re getting a lot closer."

Across all funds, the city 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 decrease to $30.7 million and expenditures will total $30.6 million. The city is expected to spend about $13.4 million of the general fund.

Early projections show the city is facing a possible $4 million deficit for fiscal year 2016 and $4.6 million in 2017.

Lange said those projections may change as his staff continues to delve into the city's finances. Between January 2012 and January 2013, Lange is expecting the city will lose 15 full-time employees through attrition and retirements. Of that number, only three of the jobs will be replaced.

As an example, director of administrative services David Kowal resigned earlier this year and that position has not been filled. Lange previously told he and his staff have since absorbed some of Kowal's responsibilities. Kowal received an annual salary of $82,400. With the elimination of his job, the city may see potential savings.

"So that's a net loss of 12 employees," Lange said. "That has obviously made it very difficult to come up with a number (for the budget.)"

Lange said he is looking at all options, including the possibility of a city-wide assessment that would be a possible revenue source for the city, along with staff reorganizations and a review of services.

"(We will) do evaluation of overhead and operating costs," he said. "Not mostly personnel, but probably a little in personnel areas where we can save money and not hurt our effectiveness." Lange said the goal is to have a sustainable budget with service and personnel levels so that for at least five years, the city won't have to worry about "falling off a cliff."

"That’s pretty ambitious given what we started with, but I believe that’s totally possible under the circumstances," he said. "That’s the outcome we’re looking for and then we would move with full force and effort to push the economic redevelopment of the city."

Katrease Stafford covers Ypsilanti for her at or 734-623-2548 and follow her on twitter.


Ypsilanti City Resident

Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 12:14 p.m.

City Confidential Thank you for the Assessment Clarification. Carole Clare

City Confidential

Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 7:43 p.m.

Carole: I think that Lange meant a "special assessment" like a sanitation fee, storm water management fee or street lighting fee, not re-assessing the property values, as your comment would suggest. Special assessments are regressive in that they charge the same fee to each household, regardless of the household's value. I believe that at one time I had heard the suggestion of a $142/yr special assessment for sanitation/waste management costs, for example.

Ypsilanti City Resident

Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 12:28 p.m.

A City wide Assessment will most likely be a reduction for some properties. I have found that there are some story ht corrections that should be make, A/C and kitchen built in's, not there, garage finishes not there, etc. Carole Clare Retired City Assessor.


Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 10:34 a.m.

City-wide Assessment? I thought we just voted resoundingly for no tax increases - how is a City-wide Assessment any different than a tax increase?