2013-06-27 / Front Page

City approves new rates

Council amends, approves budgets, rate increases

MANISTIQUE – There were plenty of empty seats in Manistique City Hall chambers Monday, as city council passed the 2014 budget, which included water and sewer rate increases. Council members also heard updates on the final, amended 2012-13 budget, with the fiscal year ending June 30.

According to Manistique City Manager Sheila Aldrich, the city’s general fund in 2012- 13 looked similar to what it has in the past, with the city collecting $786,000 in property taxes.

“Everything is pretty typical,” she said. “Each one of the (line) items has stayed pretty close to what was adopted.”

One area of this year’s general fund that did experience a significant change was the line item for materials, supplies, webpage and bandshell. This item was amended up from $7,000 to $15,000.

“We are trying very diligently to promote Manistique,” Aldrich explained. “You might have noticed that we have our map, and our trails and our name out there in some of these periodicals that go to the rest areas and the welcome centers here in Michigan and in Wisconsin to attract people to Manistique.”

For the entire general fund, the 2012-13 budget expenditures were amended up from $2,047,676.25 to $2,387,128.53. Revenues were also amended up, from $2,047,870 to $2,400,228.56. This left $13,100.03 at the year’s end, which will be added to the fund balance.

“There are a lot of these departments that the expenses have stayed the same as last year,” she said. “There are no wage increases built into these expense line items … I give the employees credit for this. It’s because of all of them that it works.”

For the 2013-14 fiscal year, Aldrich explained there would be no increases in wages or fringes for general fund budget. She also noted property taxes are not expected to rise significantly, prompting the city to budget for $795,000. In total, the general fund will be expecting $2,132,356.74 in expenses and $2,133,125 in revenues for the 2013-14 fiscal year.

The Downtown Development Authority’s budget will be ending the 2012-13 year in the red, Aldrich explained, due to a delay in collecting taxes owed by a local company.

“They are anticipating that they will have a $97,039.21 deficit and that is because of the Manistique Papers (FutureMark – Manistique) taxes that are coming in on the delay,” she said. “We’ll be ending this year and filing a deficit elimination plan for them.”

Aldrich said the plan will be sent to the state for approval, and that once the tax payments from FutureMark – Manistique start to come in, they’ll pay this amount down.

By the end of the 2013-14 year, she noted the organization will have net revenue of $31,123.69.

The DDA’s 2013-14 budget includes a $60,000 payment to the Manistique sewer fund, which had previously been put on hold.

The organization had been making this payment to assist the Manistique sewer department with a bond payment, but had to skip the payment in 2012 due to its own budget woes.

When the DDA decided to skip this payment, the city implemented water and sewer base fee rate hikes to cover the loss. Despite the reinstatement of this payment in 2013-14, the city will be raising the water and sewer rates again, this time based on usage.

According to Aldrich, these increases will be made to cover increasing costs to the city and decreased usage by residents.

“We have kept the sewer sales the same as they are,” she said. “In order to keep them the same that they are … we’ll be talking about a possible increase of 53 cents per thousand gallons.”

She noted the sewer department salaries will remain the same in 2013-14, and fringe benefits will see a decrease due to a retirement and a new hire. The department is expecting revenues of $1,156,354.18 and expenses of $1,150,803, for a difference of $5,551.18 at the end of the fiscal year.

A water rate increase of 85 cents per thousand gallons used will be implemented to assist that department to cover its expenses, Aldrich added. Water revenues of $1,333,983 and expenses of $1,330,801.41, are expected in 2013-14, leaving $3,181.59 at the year’s end.

The 2012-13 budget amendments and the proposed 2013-14 budget were approved unanimously by council members.

Council members Jack Hoag and Dan Evonich were absent.

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