By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
LINCOLN PARK – Solving the city’s financial problems and looming deficit of nearly $3 million won’t be accomplished with any single cut or added source of revenue. City Council met Monday to consider ideas for both reductions and income, a process that will continue through the end of June.
There were limited opportunities for increased income, said Mayor Patricia Diaz Krause. City council approved last week modest increases in rental fees for recreation facilities and building fees, measures expected to add several thousand dollars over the next year, but took no action on a proposed special assessment
for street lighting.
Diaz Krause said the prospective millage effort, which could generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in new taxes, was not a practical solution.
“Our attorney said it would be a long process to get to that point,” Diaz Krause said. “We need more immediate savings.”
Instead officials hope to trim the budget with savings large and small. Friday the city expected to welcome representatives from the state of Michigan’s office of fiscal responsibility for a review of the city’s finances.
“I’m curious to see what they determine or recommend,” Diaz Krause said. “They might be able to provide corrective actions
and suggestions. I can see it being a positive step.”
Friday’s session was expected to pave the way for tomorrow’s special meeting of the city council and begin answering the looming question of municipal layoffs. On the agenda will be a presentation by the fire department, which Diaz Krause said stepped forward willing to negotiate its contract in hopes of preserving both jobs and public safety. The department has reached out to other municipalities to determine if shared services might ease the budget strain.
“They’ll talk about consolidating and what they’ve already accomplished with neighboring cities,” Diaz Krause said.
Rather than leave unanswered questions lingering into the summer, Diaz Krause said that last week she instructed the city attorney to ask each of the employee unions for early negotiations to better determine how much of a deficit will be faced.
“We asked them to come forward now and help us instead of waiting until July,” Diaz Krause said. “Hopefully some will come to the table early.”
(James Mitchell can be reached at [email protected])