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March 16 2009 Work Session Minutes

March 16, 2009

A Fiscal Year (FY) 2009-2010 budget review meeting of the Buchanan City Commission was held at City Hall, 302 N. Redbud Trail, Buchanan, Michigan, Monday, March 16, 2009, at 7:00 p.m.

Commissioners Present: Barbara Clark, Carla Cole, Patricia Moore, Bill Norton, Warren Weaver.
Commissioners Absent: none
Staff Present:   City Manager Meg Mullendore, City Treasurer Juli O’Bryant, Administrative Secretary Cathy Emmel

2009-2010 BUDGET
Budget Books were distributed to the Commissioners on Friday, March 13, 2009.  Meg discussed the Stimulus Package money, which would be 23% for SRF and 40% for DWRF.  Due to stipulations that require Davis-Bacon prevailing wages and a Buy American clause, the City may not realize a gain by accepting the money, and may end up spending more than originally planned.  Meg said the City will be putting out bids to determine if accepting the Stimulus Package money will be a plus for the City.

Juli explained the State Revenue Sharing is basically the same as last year, stating the amount of State Revenue Sharing we receive this year is less than what we received in 1996.  We have lost approximately $1.3M in State Revenue Sharing in recent years.

While discussing Statutory Revenue, Meg said there would be a possibility of not receiving it this year.  Juli said the State looks at local tax rates when making this determination; if a municipality does not tax the residents to the full millage, the State interprets that as meaning we are not doing everything we can to raise revenue.  The City of Buchanan has not raised taxes in 20+ years.  If we do not get the money, Meg said we would have to have an emergency budget meeting and amend the budget.

Juli explained revenues and expenditures in the Local Streets, Major Streets and Street Repair and Maintenance Funds, stating those budgets are prepared at the same time because all three work together.

Juli discussed information related to Water and Sewer, stating we had to do a budget for the Bond Authority, to go to the State.  The Bond Authority agreed with the bond increase; we are asking for a $4.5 million bond.  There will be an increase in the utility bill of $1.04 for 5,000 gallons usage per month.  Juli also said our bond authority is pleased with our financial situation.

Juli distributed information related to utility increases.  She commended water and sewer employees for keeping expenses down; however, Juli is concerned about the number of empty houses and businesses leaving, which causes a decrease in usage, thus a decrease in revenue.  Juli will do a comparison of residential and commercial usage, and put that information in commissioners’ packets.

Juli stated the Water and Sewer budget shows $1.5 million in revenue projected, with expenditures of $1.36 million.  She said we would keep these numbers until we find out if, and how, the stimulus package will affect the budget.  We are currently looking at $20,000 revenue over expenditures.

The Commissioners’ specific questions were answered throughout the work session.  All concurred to cancel the March 18th budget work session.

Juli distributed information regarding another way to give more customer service to our residents (we do online payments now).  We now have the opportunity to set up a system where the citizens will be able to log in and see what their account history, transaction history, and information such as “there is a mean dog at the customer’s address.”  This system can be set up in approximately 3 to 4 months.  Once the website is up and running this will be implemented.  It is offered through the “Fund Balance” network.  The cost is a one time $400 fee and then $25 monthly hosting fee ($300 per year) and .02 cents per account that we have. That would be $1,060. for the first year, then after that initial outlay the cost would be $600-$700 per year.  It will be a free service to the customers.  The Commissioners’ consensus is that this would be a beneficial service to add to the website.

There being no other discussion, the meeting adjourned at:  9:33 p.m.

Cathy Emmel, Buchanan Administrative Secretary

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