Morenci's 2011-12 budget proposed 05.04.2011

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

General fund spending is expected to rise by about $22,000 in Morenci’s proposed 2011-12 budget plan. A budget hearing is scheduled at the May 9 city council meeting.

No salary and wages increases are planned in the next fiscal year—other than those negotiated through union contract—due to declining state and local revenue. City administrator Renée Schroeder expects a drop in property tax revenue due to declining property values, and state-shared revenue is expected to fall by $70,000.

Gov. Rick Snyder has spoken of restoring part of the loss to communities that consolidate and share services, reduce the cost of employee benefits, and show greater transparency.

Schroeder said department heads have worked on collaborative efforts with other communities, but past efforts don’t count toward meeting the governor’s goals. Only those going forward will be considered.

Part of the revenue shortfall will be covered by transferring $40,000 in savings from the refuse collection fund, Schroeder said, to help cover the costs of brush collection and the recycling center.

She’s heard about several communities discontinuing curbside pick-up of brush.

Schroeder expected some savings in health care costs by increasing employee co-pay and deductibles, but that will be wiped out by federal health care changes and by the addition of some adult children to family coverage.

Among the budget highlights, Schroeder mentioned that cemetery spending will include the purchase of a computer and software to maintain grave owner and occupant records. Data now on paper must be transferred to the new computer records.

DPW spending includes the purchase of a camera to inspect sewer lines ($9,000) and a backhoe ($90,000), although a backhoe might be leased.

The budget lists $30,725 to sealcoat 4,000 feet of Coomer Street from the east city limits to North Street.

The parking lot rebuild project is included in total spending for 2011, but $543,000 of the nearly $640,000 cost comes from a state grant.

The police department will replace the in-car video systems ($12,500) and $7,500 is slated for the police sergeant’s pay should the chief be selected to participate in an FBI academy program for officers.

The Morenci Area EMS purchase of an ambulance will be covered by a $123,500 FEMA grant, with the exception of about $6,500.

The budget shows the city will contribute $90,000 to the library for wages and utilities and require a transfer of $6,139 from the library’s savings.

“We are still treading very cautiously,” Schroeder said, “but we have been able to build back cash reserves in order to plan for a few much-needed purchases while leaving savings balances intact.”

Following the budget hearing next week, council is expected to approve the spending plan at the regular May 23 meeting.

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