Debt plan ready for state review

By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers

TAYLOR — The city’s plan to eliminate a $5 million budget deficit and avoid emergency financial management takeover is expected to be turned over to state officials Monday.

After weeks of meetings, study sessions and public debate, a five-year strategy for repairing Taylor’s finances was approved Thursday by the City Council.

“It shows at the end of five years a surplus of revenue,” Treasurer Lynn Cleary said Friday. Cleary said it is believed that the submitted plan will meet state requirements, and emergency management takeover will not be enacted.

In January, state treasury officials reviewed the struggling city’s finances, and asked for a plan to eliminate a growing deficit. A January audit revealed a $1.7 million deficit for the fiscal year ending June 2011, and a projected 2012 deficit in excess of $5 million.

A February deadline for a revised, five-year budget plan was extended while city officials negotiated with employee unions, eliminated positions — including two with the Department of Public Works — and debated wholesale city ordinance changes including the elimination of pensions and benefits for part-time elected officials.

A proposed request for a Headlee Amendment override was also considered and approved, but was later cancelled during the lengthy study process.

Thursday, the council approved a plan for submission to the state treasury by a 4-1 vote, with Council Chair Cheryl Burke dissenting; council women Suzanne Weycker and Jill Brandana were not present for voting.

Cleary said the revised plan included shifting revenues within various department budgets, and council approved a number of amendments addressing benefit packages. Details of the plan were not available by press time.

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

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