Dobek: City must wean itself from landfill revenue
By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
RIVERVIEW – City Manager Jeff Dobek discussed the likely need for a citywide special assessment to fund police services with the City Council during its June 12 study session.
Revenue from the Riverview Land Preserve will be reduced and eventually eliminated as the landfill reaches its capacity, Dobek said, which means the city will need other sources of revenue to support its general fund.
Public safety represents more than half of the city budget – about 53 percent – which comes from the city’s 32 percent share of the property taxes it collects. About 42 percent goes to the schools and the state and 26 percent goes to Wayne County — which includes the zoo, art institute and Metro Authority.
The Police and Fire Protection Act 33 of 1951 allows cities to raise revenue through the creation of a special assessment district throughout an entire city.
Because of the eventual loss of Land Preserve revenue, Riverview filed a deficit elimination plan Feb. 7, which was approved Feb. 23 by the Michigan Department of Treasury.
Dobek said the city has to do something, since the landfill has to
utilize its remaining earnings to fund its escrow and its post-closure financial assurance account.
“We have to come up with another $1.5 million, as we are transferring currently into this budget, that we won’t be transferring in future years,” he said.
Dobek said the five-year plan that the city provided, that was reviewed by Plante Moran, identifies two ways to generate extra funds for police protection: either a public safety millage or a Headlee Amendment rollback.
Headlee requires a city or township to reduce its millage when annual growth on existing property increases faster than the rate of inflation.
He said a Headlee rollback would be 3.85 mills, and the city would be looking at a similar number for a public safety millage.
“If economics turn around and Riverview, for different things – more stores, more businesses or whatever – you can always rate that millage to every year up to so many mills,” Dobek said. “Then council can approve so many mills each year that it needs each year for the budget.”
He said that while things are happening with the gas plant and the sale of property, there are city assets that need to be replaced with some of that money, including ambulances, fire trucks and police vehicles. He noted that the forfeiture account has dwindled.
Dobek said the council can vote to approve a special assessment for police services.
“Our idea was to get it on the November ballot, to let the people of Riverview decide,” he said. “We have to do something now to get ahead of this.”
Corporate Counsel Randall Pentiuk said this is the same process that the city went through to transition from a part-time to a full-time fire department.
Dobek reiterated that the city must end its reliance on the Land Preserve.
“We have to wean ourselves from the landfill,” he said. “The landfill has to take care of itself and its own obligations.”