It’s budget time again in Rochester Hills, and Monday night city council received the mayor’s proposal for 2012.
The proposed budget is the work of the mayor and department heads, but it is subject to approval by council. Council has scheduled two workshop meetings to dig into the document, at 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 15 and 29. The public will have its chance to weigh in at a Sept. 19 public hearing.
The budget proposal can be viewed online on the city’s Web site at http://ww3.rochesterhills.org/2012ProposedBudgetPlan.pdf.
Written copies are also available for viewing.
In remarks to council, Mayor Bryan Barnett said the budget forecasts a drop in property values next year of 6.3 percent, or about $2 million. Overall revenues are expected to decrease 0.4 percent, while expenses are proposed to decrease 2.5 percent. Barnett proposed that the city use $2 million from its fund balance for capital improvements. One-third of the capital budget is proposed for roads.
“I present to you tonight a budget approach that proposes services that we can deliver within our funding resources as we move into fiscal year 2011,” Barnett said. “I believe this budget puts forth a solid and well-thought-out plan to continue to move our city forward.”
The budget would keep the tax rate at 9.7060 mills, the same as it has been for the last 12 years, making it the lowest tax rate for cities over 5,000 population in Oakland County, according to the mayor.
The cost of employee health care is expected to continue to rise and is the hardest number to forecast, Barnett said. The city has trimmed more than 20 percent of its employees since 2006. Barnett said the city is beginning to see some increase in activity in construction, and will see a bump in state shared revenue because of the results of the 2010 Census.
He called his proposal fiscally conservative and said it’s a model that has been working so far, despite the economic downturn.
“We clearly are proposing to live within our means and are poised to meet the challenges that lay ahead of us,” he said. “Despite some tough economic punches, our administration remains very optimistic about our future, our proposed plan, and our community’s outlook for the future.”
The city charter calls on the mayor to present his annual budget proposal at the first scheduled meeting in August. Council does not discuss it at that time. But Councilman Vern Pixley said he was glad to hear an optimistic tone.
By ANNETTE KINGSBURY