Wyandotte budget set to generate revenue

Sunday Times Newspapers

WYANDOTTE – The city’s new fiscal year kicked off at the start of October, and officials managed to budget funding appropriately. The trick now will be to stay on task and not go over budget with unexpected costs.

The city’s general fund revenue is expected to increase about $2.4 million from $20.9 million last year. However, expenses also will be increasing about $2.4 million, to $23.2 million. Revenue is projected to outweigh expenses by about $45,000 between Oct. 1, 2010, and Sept. 30, 2011.

The most glaring change in the new budget is the Engineering and Building Department’s expenses, which increased from about $1.4 million to nearly $3.9 million, a $2.5 million difference. Todd Drysdale, director of finance and administration, said most of those expenses ultimately are not being paid for with taxpayer dollars.

“We received a grant of almost $7 million to demolish and renovate some homes” over the span of three years, he said.

Another large tally within the budget is simply a shifting of funds. The Police Department’s budget dropped about $523,000 from $5.7 million to $5.2 million, but the funds were allocated in a similar department, the Downriver Central Dispatch.

Based in Wyandotte, the city’s collaborative law enforcement effort with Southgate and Lincoln Park police experienced a $588,000 increase, from $104,000 to $692,000.

“We removed all the former cost for the dedicated dispatches,” Drysdale said. “The consolidated dispatch effort reduced some of our costs.”

Several other departments saw small changes in their budgets, but many were a result of smaller staff numbers.

“There’s eight less full-time people than this time last year,” Drysdale said, adding that they were removed through attrition and retirements. “People retired from there, and we didn’t fill the position. We didn’t give them any incentive. These people decided to leave voluntarily. There’s not going to be any diminished services.”

Of the eight, four were from the Department of Public Works, while one each were from the Fire, Police, Finance and Recreation departments.

Partially resulting from the vacant positions, the DPW’s budget dropped $97,000 to nearly $3.1 million, while the Recreation Department’s budget dropped $78,500 to $630,000.

Despite the vacant positions, Financial Services’ budget increased $3,000 to almost $445,000, while the fire budget increased $24,000 to nearly $3.4 million.

Drysdale said the city was forced to lay off one full-time ordinance officer, who actually is eligible for retirement or could be hired into dispatch.

Many department budgets remained idle in the 2010-11 fiscal budget. The Swimming Pool–Recreation, Zoning Board of Appeals, Planning Commission and Building Board of Appeals all experienced no change within their budgets of $15,000 or less.

Most of the remaining departments had some sort of budget cuts, although the Retirement Commission ($62,000 increase to $2.1 million), general government administration ($3,000 increase to $1.3 million), Civil Service Commission ($1,400 increase to $9,500) and Treasurer’s Office ($485 increase to more than $135,000) all landed in the black.

Seven more departments landed in the red, however, including Yack Ice Arena –Recreation ($21,500 decline to $408,000), Assessor’s Office ($20,000 decline to $209,000), Election Commission ($13,000 decline to $30,000), City Clerk’s Office ($7,000 decline to $258,500), Historical Commission ($5,000 decline to $162,000), Youth Assistance Program ($1,300 decline to $43,5000) and civil defense ($500 decline to $7,000).

(Contact Chris Jackett at cjackett@bewickpublications.com)