FY 2014 Ann Arbor Budget Preview

On Monday, April 15 – the Ann Arbor city council’s second meeting this month – city administrator Steve Powers will be submitting to the council a proposed budget for fiscal year 2014. The fiscal year starts July 1.

The slide presentation for that budget proposal is now available for preview on Legistar, the city’s online agenda platform. The council will have until its second meeting in May to make any amendments.

The budget for the general fund in FY 2014 shows $82,632,807 in general fund revenues against $81,287,363 in expenditures, for a recurring surplus of $1,345,444. However, one-time expenditures for FY 2014 total $1,605,949 – with a net result that the general fund budget for FY 2014 will require tapping the fund balance for a total of $260,505. That would leave the general fund with $13.8 million in reserves or 17% of operating expenses.

Although the city council adopts its budget one year at a time, the city plans in a two-year cycle. FY 2014 is the first year of the next two-year cycle. In FY 2015, the plan indicates recurring expenditures of $84,002,927 and one-time expenses of $1,599,000, which would require using $1,628,778 of the fund balance. That would drop the fund balance to about 14.4% of operating expenses. City CFO Tom Crawford has recommended trying to achieve 15-20% in reserves, although city policy is to maintain 8-12%.

This is essentially the same basic budget picture that was presented to the city council at its March 25 working session.

Projections for subsequent years show the use of $859,822 and $1,567,037 in fund balance in FY 2016 and FY 2017, respectively. Those projections are based on estimates of revenue increases of 1.5%.

The budget planning assumes that the overall staffing level at the city would stabilize at around 693 employees, following steady declines over the last several years.

Highlights from the slide presentation for FY 2014 include $234,000 in costs for increased police overtime and funding for county animal control, as well as $467,000 for four additional firefighter positions – increasing the total firefighter staffing from 82 to 86 FTEs (full-time equivalent positions). Total police staffing would remain constant at 146 FTEs. The budget also calls $20,000 to implement the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) Citizen Survey to measure public perception of city services.

The FY 2014 budget to be submitted by Powers also calls for $60,000 to paint and replace light poles, and $269,000 for improvements to Barton and Superior dams.

The building and planning departments are expected to see increased revenue of about $138,000.

Average customers of city utilities – drinking water, sanitary sewer and storm sewer – are expected to see an increase in their bills of about 3.7%, according to the slide presentation.

Previous Chronicle coverage provides more detail on the deliberations that the city council has conducted on budget topics through the spring of this year.

The public hearing on the city administrator’s recommended budget is scheduled for May 6, 2013. The council will take up the issue of the city budget as an agenda item on May 20, 2013.