2009-2010 City Budget “Critical discussions would benefit Taxpayers!”

The Council met with the Administration on Thursday, April 30 and again on May 4 to consider and approve the City Managers proposed

$10.2 million dollar City Budget. Both meetings lasted over three-hours each!

The Council gave tentative approval of the Budget as council members gave no indication of disapproval. City Manager, Mike Dornan, requested objections to the budget be voiced! Noted was the urging from council members Cutright and Ziegler that they go “around-the-table” and that a dissatisfaction for any item be noted!

Tentative approval was given.

Plante and Moran brought Joe Heffernan to present the Auditors Report commending the City for its Financial Plan and that…”he was shocked that (our) taxable value only declined 2.3% when other communities county wide…were seeing a 6%-8% decline this year.

Plante and Moran optimism was not shared by Wixom City Assessor, John Sailor! “…Industrial Sales are selling at 50% of what we have them assessed at. (not their market value but what we have them assessed at)…” In Farmington, an industrial property sold for $26 dollars a sq. ft., and they had it assessed at $62 dollars a sq. ft.

Mr. Sailor thinks that next year is going to be a disaster.

This year Wixom’s appeals were approximately 102, and last year there were 50-something!

A contentious point between the Council and the Administration is the review of staffing levels in the Police Department.

Staffing levels are a serious consideration for Council.

The Structure of the Police department and the position of Public Safety Director should be discussed in detail: need, structure, and operations functionality. Only then will cost be a consideration for discussion.

Additionally, there appears to be a breakdown in communication between the Administration, the Wage and Salary Committee, and the Council members not on the WSC.

In particular was the disclosure of a “letter-of-understanding” developed between the Administration and the Police Union to…“kind of work out the groundwork to create…a rank of Police Captain.”

Council woman Nancy Dingeldey…”not being a member of Wage and Salary, she wasn’t aware, first of all, that the discussions were even going on!

After considerable discussion by council members, Mike Dornan interjected that a study session is needed to discuss the staffing. “…an overall 30,000 foot view of the Police and Fire Departments which would include establishment of this command position and the dynamics involving this position as a union or non-union position.”

It is noted that in the discussions within the minutes of the budget meetings, every council member made significant comments relative to the budget. However, it was disappointing to recognize that as a member disclosed the line item deficiency, no other council member considered supporting the noted deficiency.

This lack of support or discussion of the deficiency is unfortunate for the Taxpayers! Critical discussion of line items is a essential part of the budgeting process. All aspects of a particular item should be noted and a consensus is then directed for disposition of the item in question.

A line item of $5000 or $500 is important for Taxpayers! If $5000 is needed, why budget $8000?

It is a small question and without consideration, leads to an inflated, unnecessary expense for the Taxpayers.

A critical discussion would benefit Taxpayers!

Note: Approved minutes are available at http://www.ci.wixom.mi.us

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