Mayor asks for budget cut ideas

By ANDREA POTEET
Sunday Times Newspapers

WYANDOTTE – With a report from an ad hoc committee due soon, Mayor Joseph Peterson Monday asked city council members for their own ideas to overcome an anticipated $1.2 million budget shortfall for the 2011 to 2012 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

“I think it’s the duty of this council to prioritize where they see cuts need to be made, not just sit up and wait for myself and (City Administrator) Mr. (Todd) Drysdale to bring it to you,” Peterson said. “I think it’s time that this council did some homework too.”

The 12-member citizen’s advisory committee was expected to turn in its report comprising suggestions for cuts June 30. Peterson suggested the report be forwarded to each council member so they could add suggestions of their own.

Department heads turned in their budgets June 24. Drysdale said a cursory look at those budgets proved deeper cuts needed to be made.

“Even if you implemented everything the department heads reccomended, you’re going to be a far cry from $1.2 million in cuts,” he said.

Drysdale explained that the city never anticipated the combination of a 12.7 percent drop in property values and Gov. Rick Snyder’s plan to cut two thirds to 100 percent of statutory state revenue sharing. He said in the best case scenario, the city could make up one third of the revenue sharing funds by instituting Snyder’s “best practices” reccomendations, but would still be down over $600,000 from the estimated $1.1 million it earned annually from state revenue sharing in the past.

Council members wondered if some “best practices” steps the city had implemented before Snyder took office, like collaborating with neighborhood communities and reducing healthcare costs, would count toward earning one third of revenue sharing funds back.

“The preliminary reports are that everything you’ve already done doesn’t count,” Drysdale said. “But I don’t sense that he would penalize a progressive community just to make a point.”

Drysdale said the magnitude of the budget shortfall could not be underestimated.

“In past years, we thought we had it bad, we may have lost a fingernail,” Drysdale said. “This year is the year you lose the hand or the arm.”

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