Mayor's Comments on Millage Rate Roll-Up

At the January City Council retreat, staff was directed to prepare a budget that did three things:
  1. Maintain our current service levels
  2. Address capital needs - we have police cars that are approaching 200,000 miles and roads that need resurfacing at $56,000 per mile.
  3. And ensure employee retention - Department directors have expressed concerns to Council regarding turnover and the cost to train new employees and its effect on service delivery; therefore we believe that a Cost Of Living Adjustment is necessary to show our commitment to our employees.  Trained, experienced employees assure we maintain a high level of service that is expected by our citizens.
Also at that time, our Chief Financial Officer indicated to Council that a millage roll-up may be required for the future stability of projects Council approved some time ago.
Now, I would like to address the roll-up of the millage rate.  While the millage rate is increasing, it is a revenue-neutral-multiplier that ensures the City receives the same amount of tax revenue as the previous fiscal year.  The impact on individual taxpayers will vary - based on their personal property assessment. 

The roll-up is being considered for three reasons.  First, the City Council has existing debt obligations. Payments must be made from the debt service millage rate.  The reduction in property assessments has affected the revenue for these bond obligations.  In order to meet these commitments made by this Council, a roll-up is necessary.
Second, the Parks and Recreation Agency is comprised of a board that is appointed by Council.  This Board is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the parks system and has budgetary oversight.  They have recommended a roll-up to their rate so they can maintain our quality park system at current levels while facing an increased demand for services.
Lastly, in 2009, we accepted a grant to hire additional fire fighters.  It was determined by our Fire Chief, and approved by this Council, that such a move would prepare us to better address the fire protection needs of our community.  This grant will expire in the next two years and the City will assume all costs associated with the grant.  This was made clear to us at the time we approved the grant.  It is important we keep the tax revenue neutral so that we do not have a bigger deficit to close once the grant runs out.

Financial decisions are always difficult, especially in these challenging times.  During the budget process, we strive to balance the needs of our citizens, while remaining a financially responsible City.  Over the past few years, budgets have included
  • employee furloughs,
  • a 10% reduction in workforce,
  • retirement and health benefit reductions for new hires
  • consolidation of departments; and
  • mandatory cuts to departmental operating budgets
In fact,the 2013 proposed budget for the general fund is two point one percent less than the 2008 adopted budget, although there have been substantial increases in the cost of fuel, electricity, and most other operating costs. 

We are proud of the financial position that we have achieved through careful planning and diligent management, and feel that this budget has been developed to continue on that path and provide the services that our citizens expect.