By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
SOUTHGATE – No news – or at least very little change – in the city’s financial picture was greeted as promising news as Southgate officials offered a stable budget and nominal increase in water rates charged to residents.
“The budget reflects the consistent manner in which revenues and expenses have been managed in for the last six years,” City Administrator Bryce Kelley said. “It’s cautious and conservative, but we haven’t lost any ground.”
City council members considered the proposed 2016-17 municipal budget during its meeting May 4, and final approval is expected on May 18. Elected officials also new water and sewer rates charged to residents in response to an increase charged to the city by Detroit.
“We don’t have control over the water rates,” Mayor Joseph Kuspa told council. “We’re beholden to what they send to us and we have to pass that along to residents.”
The proposed water usage rate of $23.79 – reflecting a $1.15 increase per 1,000 cubic feet – was unanimously supported by council. Sewer rates remained at $29.93 per 1,000 cubic feet, and the capital rate of $6 per 1,000 cubic feet also showed no increase from the previous year.
Assistant City Administrator and Finance Director David Angileri said the increase would result in no change to the city budget, which by law must remain balanced for public services.
“We’re obligated not to run in a deficit,” Angileri said. “Not passing along the increase could affect the balance.”
Maintaining a balanced budget reflected continued stability for the city, which Kelley said will operate with largely the same finances next year. Revenues and expenses are projected to balance at $21.9 million, with a slight increase in property values offsetting inflation.
“We’ll continue to watch our money and be frugal,” Kelley said. “We’ll make sure that the levels of services hold steady and may improve a bit.”
Kelley said the year ahead will include a few road projects, that the police department had filled a few vacancies to provide additional presence in the community, and that interest continues to grow in the city’s available commercial spaces.
“There’s a lot of interest in the retail and food service sectors,” Kelley said. “We’re also getting what I call ‘serious looks’ at some of the large parcels. All in all we’re stable and steady.”
(James Mitchell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)