By BROOKE STEVENSON
Sunday Times Newspapers
ALLEN PARK — The city will receive help from a studio executive to rebuild its pension fund.
It was announced Tuesday that Jimmy Lifton, president of Unity Studios, would give the city $2 million to cover the shortfall in the pension system. He, along with other officials, is working on building the multimillion-dollar Unity Studios Complex in the city (see related story).
The city’s pension system has lost about 20 percent, and other city revenues would have had to be brought in to shore it up.
“There is a shortfall of about $2 million that the city would have to make up,” Mayor Gary Burtka said. “This is a very demanding time.”
He said that when Lifton heard of the shortfall, he offered to help.
Lifton said that officials working on the studio project and the city are partners, and that it would benefit the project to make up the shortfall. Under the project’s agreement with the city, the city will own equity in the project, making it a public-private partnership.
“(Unity Studios) is here for the long run,” he said. “We are in partnership with the city, which means we are in a partnership with (the residents).
“We are confident that the city coffers, especially when the economy turns around, will be once again strong.”
He said that those who are in the entertainment business are very fortunate that it is profitable.
“Even in these bad depression, recession times,” Lifton said, “people still go to the movies, they still watch TV, people still play games and their videos.
“Even though this is what I call a depression, the entertainment business has seen the largest quarter it has ever seen.”
He added that it is important to the studio project that the city remains strong.
“It was roughly $2 million short, and I am prepared and we committed to the city to provide with capital repayment of $2 million for the fiscal year coming up,” Lifton said.
The $2 million will come out of the production studio’s movie revenues, money that the city has no share in.
The city will derive revenues from the land the complex is built on, rentals and other areas.
“The money (Lifton) is talking about doesn’t cut into any other revenues,” Burtka said. “It is additional money on top of the public-private partnership.”
Lifton provided the city with a promissory note that will show up in the city’s budget as a revenue source to help balance the budget.
“Had the pension system remained stable and had the economy not tanked, we would not be in this dilemma,” Burtka said.
He added that the city is still within budget, and that the $2 million will keep it in the black.
“I thank (Lifton) for coming to the table and helping the city where he is locating a business, that will create a lot of spin off business and employ a lot of people,” Burtka said.
By BROOKE STEVENSON