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City budget approved, for now

June 16, 2010 - With an Aug. 3 election set to make or break the Clarkston Police Department, city officials passed a balanced budget just for the next couple months.

"We have to pass a budget based on what we know now, which means we put together a proposal budget based on maintaining the current police department (and) maintaining the current millage," said Mayor Steve Arkwright at Monday night's budget hearing.

Whether or not voters choose to increase the general millage by five mills will determine if the city keeps their own police or out sources with the Oakland County Sheriff's Department. The current millage, set at 13.1979, generates revenues of about $584,000. If the extra five mills were OK'd it would add an extra $220,000 to the revenue stream when first levied later this year..

While the majority of the revenue went down from the amended 2010 budget to the 2011, the total revenue went from $825,050 to $829,713. The one major area of increase in revenue from 2010 to 2011 was in the area of "other." It was roughly an $80,000 increase from fund balance in order to cover the city police.

"This is not what will end up happening, I can assure you of that," Arkwright said. "We are not going to remove $80,000 from our fund equity, but in order to balance this budget based on the facts we have today that's how we have to show it."

Brueck also reassured the crowd that the $80,000 transfer from fund equity was only being done on paper.

"When I first got it I was a little timid and concerned, I had a long conversation with Steve. I wanted to make sure we weren't going to back ourselves in a corner with someone thinking that we were suggesting we continue with the Clarkston Police for one more year, fund them by borrowing $80,000 from fund equity," Brueck said. "I would not support that, I would quit before I supported that."

Arkwright said if the budget proposal on the ballot fails, the city will more than likely keep the millage rate at it's current level of 13.1978 and contract with the OCSD.

"I would suspect this council on our first meeting in August would do a budget reconciliation that night based on the outcome of the election.

On the expense side, the majority of listings stayed the same or was reduced. However, increases in expenditures from 2010 include city hall by approximately $45,000, police went up 13,000, DPW gets an increase of $8,000 and highways/streets/bridges increase by $23,000. Total expenses went for $813,607 to $829,713.

Resident and former councilman Cory Johnston questioned why there was even a public hearing if the budget, which was presented, wasn't going to be used, because in August there will be other budgets.

"I could ask questions about this budget, but why would I bother if this is not a budget that will ever get used," Johnston said. "I'm wasting my time and your time for asking questions about something that I don't know what numbers are going to change with budget A or B, so what's the public hearing for?"

However, Township Attorney Tom Ryan disagreed, the public hearing and the budget was useless.

"The problem is we don't know what's going to happen on August 3 and until or unless that happens the only thing this council can deal with is the facts that exist today and those facts are number one we have a millage rate of 13.1979 and B we have our own police department," Ryan said. "The council did not act precipicely by disbanding the police department before the vote because they don't know that's going to happen. If it does happen then the police department will be off the table and that will occur."

Arkwright said budget amendments are "very common."

"Budgets are amended all the time, they're a road map. The environment changes as you get through the year and you have to adapt to it and that's all that's being done here," he said. "We have to take the current situation apply a budget and when we find out new information we'll update it and revise it to show the then current situation."

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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