Dearborn Budget 2013: What You Need to Know
A public hearing on the budget will take place May 14 at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers at Dearborn City Hall.
Dearborn city leaders have been meeting for several months to discuss the details of the fiscal year 2013 budget, which begins July 1.
On May 14 at 6 p.m. at Dearborn City Hall, Dearborn residents will be given a chance to express their concerns about the proposed 2013 budget.
Think the city needs to make more spending cuts? Want to know why certain capital improvements are being made? Don't want to see the voter-approved 3.5 mill increase enacted? This is the time to speak up.
Here's what you need to know as Dearborn heads into another budgetary year. Click the links to read more details about specific budgetary discussions.
Expenditures Outpace Revenues
Even if the Dearborn City Council levies the full 3.5 mills additional afforded to them by voters, the fiscal year 2013 as proposed by Mayor Jack O'Reilly still stands at $8.4 million over projected revenues.
This is due, in large part, to a combination of rising personnel costs–including pensions and health care expenses–and continued drops in the taxable values of property. From 2011 to 2012 alone, taxable value in Dearborn has dropped 6 percent.
The property value that generated $1 of tax revenue for the city in 2008 will generate 73 cents in 2013.
No Facilities Will Close in 2013
Although expenses continue to rise, O'Reilly has maintained that no facilities are expected to close within the next fiscal year.
Instead, the city has pushed for alternative funding options for several facilities–as well as continued consolidation of departments.
The Museum Guild of Dearborn has been charged with the task of raising funds to cover the Dearborn Historical Museum's costs by 2015 when the department's funds from the sale of the Andiamo property run out.
City Council also recommended that the 19th District Court–which has seen continued jumps in cases, but not in revenue–focus on ensuring that lawbreakers either pay their fines, or enter into the alternative work program.
The city's six small pools–two of which have not been open since 2010–are hoped to be funded by neighborhood Special Assessment Districts, which would place operating and improvement costs in the hands of the households surrounding the pools.
However, that plan has stalled with questions from the Save Our Pools group about how the plan will be implemented, as well as concerns about the proposed 2013 budget.
In 2012, budget cuts led to the shuttering of two city pools, one library, and the entire Health Department. It was projected in 2011 that all small pools and the remaining two branch libraries, as well as the Dearborn Hills Golf Course, Dearborn Ice Skating Center and one Dearborn fire station would close by 2015 if no additional revenue was realized.
It's possible that more closures could be on the way in future years if revenues remain stagnant.
Police, Fire Budgets Are Mostly Untouchable
Public safety positions currently make up 51 percent of the city's full-time staff. In both the police and fire departments, personnel costs account for around 90 percent of expenditures.
In budget talks, Dearborn City Council nitpicked over numbers, including the money-making possibilities of ambulance services, and the costs of putting police officers through training.
But with minimum staffing provisions still in place, the biggest savings will come only through union negotiations, which are currently ongoing. Several City Council members have voiced opinions that personnel costs must be cut from the public safety budget for the city to make progress toward financial stability.
Dearborn Will be Broke by 2015
Mayor O'Reilly agrees that cutting personnel costs are a major part of the answer to Dearborn's budget woes, but how those cuts are implemented remains to be seen.
All city employees are being asked to contribute to a 10 percent cut in overall personnel costs. These sacrifices could come in many forms: A larger share of health care costs will be placed on employees thanks to new state mandates; three non-public safety positions were cut; and ongoing union negotiations are focusing on wage, salary or staffing cuts.
The bottom line is this: Without more revenue, or bigger cost cuts, Dearborn's general fund will be in the red by nearly $8 million within three years–even with a full 4.5 mill increase in taxes.