Stories indexed with the term ‘general fund’

County Board Weighs $103M Budget

At their Oct. 2, 2013 meeting, Washtenaw County administrator Verna McDaniel  presented a four-year general fund budget to county commissioners, for the years 2014-2017. The board discussed but ultimately postponed giving initial approval to the $103,005,127 million budget for 2014, which represents a slight decrease from the 2013 expenditures of $103,218,903.

A total of 8.47 full-time-equivalent jobs will be put on “hold vacant” status, and a 0.3 FTE position will be eliminated.

The recommended budgets for the following years are $103,977,306 in 2015, $105,052,579 in 2016, and $106,590,681 in 2017. The budgets are based on an estimated 1% annual increase in property tax revenues. [.pdf of draft budget summary]

McDaniel had previously indicated that the county would need to find $3.9 million in … [Full Story]

County Board Adjusts Budget Mid-Year

At its Aug. 3, 2011 meeting, the Washtenaw County board of commissioners approved a mid-year budget adjustment that increased the general fund budget by $1.42 million. The adjustment also increased the county Community Support and Treatment Services (CSTS) department’s budget by $150,003.

The general fund adjustment reflects an increase of $3,476,225 in property tax revenue for 2011, offset by a $1,034,000 shortfall in anticipated expense reductions. The 2011 budget approved by commissioners in late 2010 included the use of $5,289,000 from the county’s fund balance. In light of increased property tax revenues, only $2,921,391 will be used from the fund balance for the current budget year, which ends Dec. 31. The total 2011 general fund budget is $100,696,000.

The CSTS increase reflects an adjustment in the … [Full Story]

Council To Get Reminder of Parks Promise

Ann Arbor park advisory commission meeting (April 26, 2011): The park advisory commission (PAC) meeting on Tuesday lasted around three hours, and concluded with a budget-related resolution that reminds the Ann Arbor city council of an administrative policy on parks budgeting.

Tim Berla, Park Advisory Commission Ann Arbor

Park advisory commissioners Tim Berla (left) and Doug Chapman (right). Berla is talking about differences in funding levels for parks as compared with the rest of the city's general fund.

PAC chair Julie Grand lamented the short notice they had received about the proposed changes to the way parks programs will be supported in the fiscal year 2012 budget – which meant that the public had little opportunity to weigh in with PAC.

On May 2, the city council is holding its public hearing on the FY 2012 budget, which the council needs to approve at its May 16 meeting. The 2012 fiscal year begins July 1, 2011.

The city’s administrative policy on parks support dates back to a measure passed by the city council in October 2006, which reads in relevant part: “If future reductions are necessary in the City’s general fund budget, during any of the six years of this millage, beginning with Fiscal Year 2007-2008, the general fund budget supporting the parks and recreation system for that year will be reduced by a percentage no greater than the average percentage reduction of the total City general fund budget.”

The policy was seen as important to assure voters that once the 2006 millage was passed, millage money would not replace general fund support for parks.

But based on city staff calculations, the portion of the city’s general fund in the proposed FY 2012 budget that supports parks would fall short of the 2006 administrative policy standard by $90,000. And some park commissioners objected to the fact that some of the money previously drawn from the general fund to support parks will now be drawn from the METRO and stormwater funds.

The stormwater fund receives revenues paid through fees based on the amount of impervious surface on a property. The METRO fund receives revenues that the state requires telecommunications companies to pay municipalities for use of the right-of-way. For purposes of the administrative policy, the city is counting the METRO funds that are supporting parks as part of the general fund.

The resolution passed by PAC called on the city council to adhere to the prevailing administrative policy. A different resolution passed by PAC expressed the body’s support for the cost-savings measures in the parks and recreation programs included in the FY 2012 budget. Besides parks and recreation programs, park operations are supported by the general fund – in the public services area of the budget. The administrative policy discrepancy lies in the park operations budget.

In other budget-related business, the commission recommended fee increases and new program fees that had been suggested by city staff. Those increases will need final authorization by the city council.

The commission also received a presentation from the Ann Arbor public art commission on a program to create murals. One of the initial sites selected for mural installation is the restroom building at Allmendinger Park. [Full Story]

Ann Arbor 2012 Budget: Trees, Trash, Streets

Editor’s note: The Ann Arbor city council has held two retreats to discuss the city’s FY 2012 budget – one in early December 2010 and another in early January 2011. A summary of the material covered in those retreats is provided in previous Chronicle coverage: “Ann Arbor: Engaging the FY 2012 Budget.”

Leading up to the city administrator delivering a proposed budget in April – for FY 2012, beginning July 1, 2011 – the city council is also holding a series of work sessions on the budget. Their typical scheduling pattern is for the weeks between council meetings. Previous work sessions have taken place on community services, as well as the 15th District Court and police and fire services. On Feb. 28, the council held its final budget work session of the season – on public services and the city attorney’s office. [.pdf of  combined public services budget impact sheets provided on the city of Ann Arbor's budget impact web page.]

Streets, sidewalks, trash collection, trees in the right-of-way, water and sewers are all included under the general label of “public services” in the city. At Monday’s budget work session on those kinds of activities, public services area administrator Sue McCormick did not present the council with any news more dramatic than Roger Fraser did when he announced at the conclusion of the session that he’d be leaving his job by the end of April.

But McCormick did present the council with options for meeting reduction targets that would, if enacted, have a significant impact on the range of services offered by the city. In at least one case, the range of service would expand – the city (instead of adjoining property owners) could assume responsibility for sidewalk repair and replacement.

In another case – which McCormick stressed was not a recommendation, but rather just an informational ballpark amount for potential annual savings to the city ($2.1 million) – the city would get out of the business of trash collection. In another month, the city expects to give the council a report that provides more detail on possible alternatives to having city workers perform that task, including some kind of franchised trash collection operation.

Many of the specific reduction target tactics presented on Monday evening involved assigning costs to a unit outside the general fund. While the city’s total budget includes around $340 million in expenses, the annual discussion typically spotlights the general fund, which gets revenue from the general operations millage [listed on tax bills as CITY OPER] – and is currently levied at a rate of roughly 6 mills. The widely reported projected deficit of $2.4 million for the city’s budget is for the general fund.

During the work session, the assignment of costs to other funds caused Sandi Smith (Ward 1) to wonder if it was just a matter of “shuffling” money from one bucket to another. The answer she heard was: No – it’s a matter of assigning costs appropriately to whatever fund should properly bear the cost of a particular activity.

One of the largest instances of such a cost reassignment would use the stormwater utility fund, instead of the general fund, to pay for forestry operations for trees in the right-of-way. That move would save the city’s general fund around $660,000 a year.

Another example of that kind of “shuffling,” albeit with a smaller dollar figure ($35,000), was a proposal from the city attorney’s office to charge capital projects part of the cost of a paralegal specializing in easements, instead of burdening the city attorney’s budget with that expense. The city attorney’s reduction strategy, which had originally been scheduled for a prior work session, was also part of Monday evening’s presentation. [Full Story]