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Councilman questions city budget increases

July 13, 2011 - Clarkston expects $28,356 added to its $150,000 general fund's fund balance after amendments to its 2011 fiscal year budget.

The increase is $5,311 more than last year's amended budget increase of $23,045.

"That's ($28,356) going to change once the month end has occurred and the auditors come in start moving things around as they usually do," said City Manager Dennis Ritter at the June 27 regular council meeting.

Councilman Richard Bisio cast the only "no" vote against the budget amendment, saying he wasn't satisfied with explanations of why another amendment was needed.

"I'm unclear why we need to do this now, since we just amended the budget in May," Bisio said.

City Manager Dennis Ritter said the city is required to have a "budget finalized to the best of their ability" before July. When questioned by Bisio what required it, Ritter said he could not "cite the law."

"I know our auditors want it done. Honestly, I've never challenged it here or the other place (Waterford) I worked at as well," Ritter said.

"It's been a common practice here. Anybody's whose been on the council awhile is familiar with this."

However, Bisio said just because something was common practice in the past, doesn't mean it should continue.

"What it seems to me is what we're doing is spending first and then budgeting," he said. "This is the exact opposite of what we ought to be doing, which is confining our spending to what is actually budgeted."

Year-to-date numbers show the city spent more than budgeted for both clerk and "miscellaneous."

The recommended amendments added $1,456 to the clerk's line item, but miscellaneous still remains in $8,530 in deficit. According to the budget, the city's police car budget was more than $10,000 over budget.

The council also approved the proposed 2012 fiscal year budget. Bisio and Councilman Chuck Inabnit voted "no."

The city estimates a net income of $17,359 for 2012, which is $10,997 less than expected for 2011.

According to Ritter, property taxes are expected to fall by four-and-a-half percent, which means a loss of $26,960.

A $1,500 budget line item was also created for the Clarkston Historic District Commission, as well as $25,000 set aside for a "Capital Improvement/Maintenance Revolving fund," which Bisio refers to as a "slush fund" on his Facebook page.

In a memo to the board, Ritter said the $25,000 would be used for "major purchases and large projects."

"We hope to increase this fund each fiscal year," Ritter said.

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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