Budget decisions await special meeting

Sunday Times Newspapers

ALLEN PARK – Big budget decisions will have to wait for a special meeting Tuesday after the new city council voted to table amendments to the Deficit Elimination Plan the previous council approved in October.

The amendments include rescinding all 18 police and 10 firefighter positions originally included in the plan in the wake of the passage of a 3.5 mill public safety millage Nov. 8 as well as closing the city’s community center and reducing city hall hours.

But councilors Tuesday said the original police and fire cuts also violated minimum staffing requirements outlined in fire and police contracts and would have left the city open to unfair labor law suits. Without cuts to those departments, the city still faces a $1.6 million deficit, City Administrator John Zech said.

The amendments also account for funds the council hopes to borrow from city boards – $157,000 from the Downtown Development Authority and $118,000 from the Brownfield board – but have not yet been secured.

The meeting was tabled to await the DDA’s decision on the loan at its next meeting and is to be discussed again at a special council meeting at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

“It would be nice if we knew that answer, if we knew exactly what the DDA was going to do,” Councilor Larry Templin said. “Otherwise, we’re going to make a decision on something we’re going to have to amend next week.”

Councilman Bob Keenan said he hopes the Police and Fire departments continue to “come to the table” to help offset the city’s current $4.7 million budget deficit.

“But in order to do that, we cannot be in unfair labor lawsuits because of things the city has done that they did not have the authority to do,” he said.

Other amendments include closing City Hall on Fridays and changing hours from 8:30 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays to 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. Minimal staff would still be in the building Fridays, but doors would be closed to the public.

The amendments also include closing the community center, which operates at a deficit, further cutting American Federation of State Clerical and Municipal Employees members and clerical staff, and reducing the hours of the deputy in the city clerk’s office, the deputy in the recreation department, and the secretary to the mayor and council.