City Commission plans for new budget

Mike Angeli, Marquette city manager

MARQUETTE — The Marquette City Commission reviewed the city’s proposed fiscal year 2019 budget during a special meeting Wednesday afternoon where the decrease of general fund revenues was discussed.

According to the city’s website, general fund revenues in fiscal year 2018 were $21,750,065, whereas fiscal year 2019 general fund revenues are currently estimated at $21,343,070.

“It’s not something that is unexpected, however, it’s something that’s probably hitting us at a year earlier than anticipated,” said City Manager Mike Angeli.

Angeli said the city has also been down 2.8 percent in tax revenue since 2016 and city staff has been making cuts in “one form or another over time.” The city is expected to lose approximately $1.6 million annually from the closure of the We Energies operated-Presque Isle Power Plant early next year. We Energies is currently the city’s largest tax generator.

“From our perspective, not to paraphrase or mimic anyone, we have a little bit of a revenue problem not necessarily an expense problem. We’ve done everything we can within the the rights or means of what we have to reduce the expenses, short of cutting staff and services,” Angeli said. “It’s our opinion that this community expects a certain level of service and that level requires a certain staff level and to be honest with you, we’re just kind of hanging on. There’s so much going on in town, the staff we have is adequate. If anything I’d like to add staff and better the services and try to speed up the process of things being done.”

Chief Financial Officer Gary Simpson said department heads throughout the city have budgeted as tightly as possible in all areas. However, $537,000 is needed to balance the 2019 general fund, even though $2.1 million in department proposed expenditures were cut from this city manager-recommended budget.

Over the course of the last several years, the state has initiated policies and legislation that have drastically re-structured revenue sharing, greatly impairing the city’s ability to predictably plan state contributions, city documents state.

The use of statutory revenue sharing funding has become an important revenue source to the general fund.

The proposed fiscal year 2019 tax millage rate is the same as the fiscal year 2018 rate of 14.9225 mills. Property taxes continue to serve as the single largest revenue source available to city government.

The commission also reviewed wages and fringe benefits, general fund non-departmental revenues, central administration, administrative services, and fire and police departments during Wednesday’s meeting.

Budget discussion meetings are open to the public and give people a chance to address any concerns or questions during public comment. Meetings are held at Marquette City Hall commission chambers, which is located at 300 W. Baraga Ave.

There are three more meetings scheduled throughout September.

The next meeting will take place at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday. The commission will hear from the community services department, where arts and culture, public arts, promotional, community services administration, senior services, Tourist Park, Lighthouse Park, marinas, and Lakeview Arena will be discussed.

The following meeting will take place at 3 p.m. Thursday. The meeting will focus on community development, including engineering, planning and zoning, road safety, public works and utilities.

On Sept. 11 at 5:15 p.m., the Peter White Public Library, Downtown Development Authority, Marquette Brownfield Redevelopment Authority and Local Development Finance Authority will be discussed.

After an overview of the entire budget, the commission will then schedule a public hearing for Sept. 24.