Budget plan due this week, council votes Wednesday

Sunday Times Newspapers

TAYLOR — City officials expect this week to finalize a plan for eliminating more than $5 million from the budget, and will hold a special meeting beginning at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

An extended deadline of Saturday was granted by state treasury officials for the city to present a strategy for balancing an anticipated $5 million deficit. The original February deadline was issued after a review of the city’s finances by state auditors, and a one-time extension was granted; if city officials fail to present a viable solution by the end of this week, Taylor could fall under state Emergency Financial Management.

One solution approved last month by city council would be a voter-approved Headlee override, allowing the city to collect more on property taxes. If approved on May 8, the override would generate an estimated $1.4 million. Currently Headlee limits Taylor to 8.42 mills; the override would allow up to 9.5 mills to be levied.

However, City Council Chair Cheryl Burke said that if enough budget reductions are approved Wednesday, it may be possible to cancel the special election.

Mayor Jeff Lamarand expected to present council members with revised spread sheets by Friday, a skeleton draft of ways to eliminate $5 million in expenses. Burke said that more than 80 percent of the city’s annual budget involves personnel, and cuts to be made without raising taxes would likely reduce services and employee hours.

“What it looks like is that $1.4 million will be coming out of services,” Burke said. “We’ll do what other communities like Dearborn Heights and Allen Park have done, with services available on fewer days. That’s how things will go.”

Burke said that relying on a Headlee override may not be a solution, long-term or otherwise.

“If it doesn’t pass we’re back at the drawing table,” Burke said.

(James Mitchell can be reached at jmitchell@bewickpublications.com.)