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Commission approves proposed 2020 budget

MARQUETTE — Following four work sessions, the Marquette City Commission on Monday unanimously approved the city’s proposed fiscal year 2020 budget following a public hearing.

The balanced general fund budget for fiscal year 2020 is around $22.03 million. While the general fund will require a $436,000 transfer from the city’s reserves, the budget does not involve service reductions, layoffs or reductions in wages or fringe benefits, Marquette’s Chief Finance Officer Gary Simpson said. The city’s fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30.

The city millage rate of 14.9225 mills will not change, despite the city’s declining property tax revenues, which make up a substantial portion of city income, Simpson said.

Though the city must formally adopt ordinances to implement higher utility rates, increases to water, sewer and stormwater rates of 12.25%, 11.5% and 15.25%, respectively, are included in the budget. This is the second consecutive year for the increases, which are part of a five-year plan developed with a professional rate consultant, Simpson said. Rates for water and sewer were raised by the same percentages last year, while the sewer rate increase last year was 25%.

Public hearings for the utility rate ordinances will be held at the commission’s Oct. 15 meeting, with an effective date of Dec. 1, he said.

Commissioners commended city staff for their work on the process and departments for conservative budgeting, noting the budget situation is challenging with the loss of over $1 million in tax revenues after the closure of We Energies’ Presque Isle Power Plant, as well as the current state budgeting situation.

“Cities in Michigan have not received funds that were originally supposed to go to us, thanks to what’s happening in Lansing. So things are very tight and folks did a very good job,” Commissioner Jenn Hill said. “We lost a taxpayer with the coal plant shutting down but there’s also other monies owed to us that have not come to us. And I think it’s important for folks to realize just how tight our budgets are. In my entire adult lifetime, we’ve done nothing but cut government budgets … and maybe it’s time to start investing in our communities again.”

To learn more about the 2020 budget and view a copy, visit marquettemi.gov.

Cecilia Brown can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248.