Belding City Council presented with tentative balanced budget

By Cory Smith • Last Updated 12:18 pm on Wednesday, April 04, 2012

BELDING — When presenting a tentative budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year, Belding City Manager Randy DeBruine said, “The light is at the end of tunnel, but we are not through it yet.”

At Tuesday’s Belding City Council meeting, DeBruine said the proposed budget, which will be voted on by council members at the April 17 meeting, is balanced with the exception of $75,000 in legal fees concurred during the lawsuit against Electrolux.

According to DeBruine, the general fund balance is projected to be $790,768 as of June 30, 2012.

“This budget did not have the same problems as we’ve had in previous years,” he said. “It is balanced in the sense that revenues equal expenditures plus use of fund balance, so it is a balanced budget. The revenues are virtually identical to the revenues of this current budget year. That is good news. It’s the first year where our overall revenue has stabilized.”

In a summary presented to the members of city council, DeBruine wrote, “The city of Belding is not immune to the budgetary woes affecting the State of Michigan, local governments, school districts and businesses. Tough decisions lie ahead of us as a city in order to effectively and efficiently serve the residents of the city of Belding … It is becoming more difficult to determine how to distribute the funds available in order to adequately address all the needs for our city.”

According to Belding Finance Director Sam Andres, nearly 60 percent of the city’s general fund is made up of revenue from property taxes.

“Unfortunately when forecasting for the future for property taxes, the turnaround will probably not come for a couple of years yet,” he said.

DeBruine stressed that the city is doing everything it can to meet that challenge “head on.” He wrote in his tentative budget that, “The city of Belding has met this challenge by cutting expenses each year, receiving additional revenue in the form of grants and by pursuing straggles now, which will improve future revenues.”

According to DeBruine, a 5 percent pay cut that city employees took more than two years ago will be restored this June.

“These employees have graciously given up 5 percent of their salary over the last two and a quarter years,” he said. “This budget will restore that 5 percent back to the employees.”

DeBruine said the city’s Dial-A-Ride budget has been scaled back $5,000 and that the city millages will remain the same. The library had to cut its staff by one full-time employee.

DeBruine said they are still working out the final numbers on the city’s Capital Improvement Fund, which has money, but has not been finalized.

“The citizens want a community and a government that is responsive to their needs,” DeBruine wrote in the budget summary. “Our most important objective for the year ahead is to continue to enrich and improve the lives of our residents and corporate citizens, who will, in turn, provide a great benefit to the community.”

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