Council, mayor discuss suggestions for budget cuts

By DANIEL HERATY
Times-Herald Newspapers

HEIGHTS – Furlough days for City Hall staff could soon be on the horizon as Mayor Daniel Paletko and City Councilors work to eliminate an expected $5 million shortfall in the $25 million general fund.

Paletko and Councilors met Sept. 6 in City Council chambers to discuss ideas about eliminating the deficit and avoiding an emergency financial manager, Paletko said.

Under Michigan law, an EFM can terminate contracts and deny official powers by elected officials without notice.

According to published reports, a letter from Paletko was sent to department heads Aug. 29 requiring them to take a 10 percent pay cut. In addition, city buildings would be closed on Fridays, except for the Police and Fire departments.

He said the target date for the pay cuts is Sept. 12.

“I don’t think we’re going to cut our way out of this,” Councilwoman Janet Badalow said. “I want to look at all of the things we pay for out of the general fund.”

Councilman Ned Apigian said residents need to be informed about what has already been done on the City’s part, including the approval at the regular meeting Aug. 23 of a 3 mill tax increase to appear on the Nov. 8 ballot.

“You’re not going to sell any millage to anybody unless you could tell them ‘This is what we’ve already done’,” Apigian said, adding that he was against switching to a four-day week at City Hall. He said a better option would be to keep the building open for a half day, so residents could still pay their bills.

Paletko also said he didn’t want to close City Hall, because all City-operated buildings would also have to close. He said the Fire and Police departments and the Department of Public Works need to be available in an emergency.

A town hall meeting to discuss the budget ideas is expected to be scheduled, but the date was not available at press time.

(Daniel Heraty can be reached at dheraty@bewickpublications.com.)