Council passes 2014-15 budget unanimously

By BOB OLIVER
Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — The City Council unanimously adopted the city’s $295.4 million fiscal year 2014-15 budget May 29, which is expected to result in a $5.6 million surplus.

The budget for the general fund is just over $101.65 million for revenues and other financial sources and $101.76 million for expenditures.

For all funds, the city is planning on having revenues of $301.1 million with expenditures totaling more than $295.4 million, a difference of $5.6 million.

Also part of the city budget, the general operating millage will remain the same at 18.5 mills while the combined sewer overflow debt millage will drop from 4.49 to 4.29 mills.

The CSO is a federally mandated control project under which the city will be separating the current single line sewer system into two lines, one for rain water and the other for sanitary sewers.

The garbage and rubbish millage and the library millage will both slightly rise from 1.91 to 2.27 mills and from 1 to 1.54 mills, respectively.

Finance Director Jim O’Connor said the rise in the garbage and rubbish millage was due to the city including the full cost of its street sweeping and leaf programs along with inflationary costs into the budget calculation.

The library millage, which was passed by voters in 2012 and expires in 2022, will increase under the authorization of the City Council, which can independently levy up to 0.54 mills.

Water rates are expected to remain the same and the sewer rate will increase 3 percent on average.

Overall, taxpayers will have 26.6 mills, which is a rise of 0.7 mills from last year.

Council President Susan Dabaja said the passing of the budget came after several budget sessions and “a lot of healthy debate.”

She also complimented O’Connor and the Finance Department for their work on the budget.

O’Connor said the city’s relocation to the Dearborn Administrative Center, 16901 Michigan Ave., later this year also will have financial benefits moving forward.

“”The move will provide for reduced building operating costs and a substantial reduction in capital needs,” O’Connor said. “It will also provide a significant performance gain for the staff. The current city hall needs a major overhaul both inside and out, and the two building and concourse design would never offer the working efficiencies of the DAC.”

The city sold the current city hall, 13615 Michigan Avenue, last year to Artspace, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit real estate developer who plan to renovate it to create 46 work and living spaces for artists as well as spaces for art studios, art organizations and creative businesses.

The city plans to be completely moved into the DAC and to hand the keys to the current city hall over to Artspace Sept. 30 so it can begin to make modifications to the interior.

(Bob Oliver can be reached at boliver@bewickpublications.com.)

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