City of Saline General Fund Spending Surpasses $10 Million in 20-21, Set to Increase Again

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General fund spending topped $10 million in the City of Saline in 2021 even as the city's rainy day fund continued to grow - in  part due to federal COVID-19 relief.

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According to the budget adopted by Saline City Council at the June 7 meeting, general fund spending is forecast to rise again this year, increasing from $10,633,992 to $10,841,346.

The city will begin the year with a fund balance north of $5.2 million, thanks to a $670,000 surplus this year. Some of that surplus can be explained by $725,000 in federal revenue. The city is banking on $462,000 in federal revenue this year. A portion of the COVID-19 relief will be used to bankroll the Rec Center, which has suffered a massive loss in revenues due to the pandemic.

But property tax revenues also increased from $6.34 million to $6.91 million. And city staff expects that number to rise to $6.99 million for the 21-22 fiscal year which begins July 1.

In terms of general fund spending in 21-22, the largest increases can be found in police department and public works department. Public Safety spending is expected to rise nearly $200,000 to $2.55 million and DPW spending is budgeted to increase $120,000 to $982,000.  

The relatively new Community and Economic Development line item continues to grow. In 2016-17, the city spent $211,000 in this area. For 20-21, that figure was at $564,000. This year, that number is budget for $598,000.

In all, the city is budgeting for $10,856,059 in general fund revenue and $10,841,346 in spending. The city's total millage rate was set at 17.0493 mills - slightly less than last year due to the retirement of the 2001 street bond, a lower refuse millage and the Headlee amendment millage reductions.

No citizens spoke during a public hearing on the budget, which was passed unanimously by city council. Two councillors did have comments.

Councillor Janet Dillon noted that the city made a much larger contribution to Saline Main Street - the private, non-profit downtown revitalization organization.

"With agreeing to a three-year contract for Saline Main Street, I would like to establish expectations. We did significantly increase the amount they will be getting and I just want to be clear as to what the city expects and what they will be providing," Dillon said.

She then talked about the Rec Center. According to city documents, the Rec Center operations were bolstered with $130,000 in American Recovery Act Funds last year and $462,000 in fiscal year 21-22.

"I would like this body to take a long hard look and consider engaging an outside source to look at the viability of the rec center. We cannot continue to fund the rec center," Dillon said.

Councillor Dean Girbach said the city has a task force working to assess ways to improve revenue at the Rec Center. Mayor Brian Marl said the task force should issue a report in late 2021 or early 2022.

Saline Parks and Recreation Director Carla Scruggs has said she expects the center to regain its financial strength as the pandemic ebbs.

Councillor Dawn Krause said she was voting in favor of the budget but said the city's share of the county mental health millage dollars should be earmarked properly.

"Mental health is a big concern right now. I want to make sure that money is how it was intended," Krause said.

The city receives about $250,000 a year because of that millage.

Some new expenditures (not all general fund dollars) include:

  • $72,000 for police department body cameras.
  • $20,000 for a roof at the Depot Museum.
  • $90,000 for a pickleball court at People's Park.
  • $15,000 for a play structure at Marlpool Park.
  • $50,000 for improvements to the trails at Brecon Park.
  • $450,000 for the east belt sewer and Maple Road project (Plus $882,000 next year).
  • $170,000 for a sidewalk from Mill Pond Park to Austin Road.
  • $170,000 in road work on East McKay Street.
  • $154,800 to rehab and paint the Henry Street water tower.
  • $1,035,000 to line the East Michigan water main.
  • $630,000 to improve pump stations.
  • A new public relations employee.

 

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