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Lawyers offer free help on city budget



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August 17, 2011 - Clarkston's getting professional help to put together a three-year budget, and it's free.

"It's not totally unusual for us to do one or two pro bonos a year," said Michael Boudreau of O'Keef & Associates Consulting, based in Bloomfield Hills. "The other reason is we recently formed our public services group and quite frankly we're looking to get it on our own internal resume."

The public service group provides O'Keef & Associates corporate finance services to municipalities and school districts. With the 2012 budget already set for a vote by city council, OAC will help budget for 2013 and 2014, as well as find financing solutions for capital equipment. Boudreau said the city would receive about $30,000-$40,000 worth of work.

"I have no doubt you'll be happy with our service," he said. "That's what we do seven days a week."

Councilman Richard Bisio said at the Aug. 8 meeting he respects OAC, having worked with them as an attorney. Bisio asked if OAC could look at the current 2012 budget because he has concerns.

"What we have done in the past is carry everything forward to the next year with a few additions and changes here and there," he said.

Boudreau said they can.

"If we see a better way of improving the process, we're certainly going to recommend that," he said. "We want to add value, we want to help."

Councilman James Brueck, on the city finance committee for four years, said he also wants a better way of budgeting.

Boudreau is a "big believer the numbers themselves should be quick and easy to read."

"That doesn't mean detail behind it shouldn't be a little more complex, but readers should be able to understand A plus B equals C pretty quickly and understand what components are going into it," he said.

City Manager Dennis Ritter said OAC will be "very helpful."

"We're looking forward to their assistance and having a new fresh set of eyes on how we are running this operation," Ritter said. "In today's economy their review and recommendations are going to be very welcome."

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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