LIVE: Dearborn City Council 2013 Budget Adoption
Join us here beginning at 6:30 p.m. for of-the-minute reports from the Dearborn City Council budget adoption meeting.
After more than 20 budget sessions spanning from January to as recently as May 24, the Dearborn City Council has set Tuesday, May 29, as the date for the adoption of the fiscal year 2013 budget.
The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers at Dearborn City Hall, and is open to the public.
Join the discussion from the meeting or at home LIVE on Dearborn Patch. We'll be updating this page from the meeting, letting you know what issues residents are raising, and how city officials are responding.
The conversation begins here at 6:30 p.m.
Update, 6:35 p.m.
Council President Tom Tafelski introduced the meeting, and deferred to Finance Director Jim O'Connor for a budget overview.
"We've had some excellent dialogue and debate over it, and now we're here for the budget adoption tonight," Tafelski said.
A total of $1.4 million was cut since the last budget draft, according to O'Connor. The budget now stands at $104,570,063.
Major recent cuts include a limit on the subsidy to the 19th District Court.
Update, 6:45 p.m.
Discussion turned to whether or not the 19th District Court budget should be cut by "limiting the subsidy the court can receive" to $300,000, according to O'Connor.
Several people said they felt it was too hasty to cut the court's budget without adequately exploring whether the court was fulfilling its promise to increase revenue and cut expenses.
"I just want to make sure we don't do something that puts us in a legal postion with the (attorney general)'s office," Councilman David Bazzy said.
Tafelski asked City Attorney Debra Walling if the cuts would put them in a legally pressing situation, given that the city is legally charged with the responsibility funding the court.
"I don't have a comment as to what that cut would do to the court's operations," Walling said. "I don't know whether that would impact their basic functions or not."
Councilman Robert Abraham questioned what the city would be sacrificing to continue funding the court without seeing an increase in revenue.
"I just don't feel comfortable sending $500,000-$700,000 of GF money to the district court when we're slicing and dicing the qualities of life of our residents," Abraham said.
The revenue for the court is expected to be several hundred thousand dollars over the expectations for fiscal year 2012.
Update, 7 p.m.
Several councilmembers expressed concern over the future of Dearborn's finances, but said they thought this fiscal year budget was "a good start."
Councilman Brian O'Donnell applauded the city for putting a large amount of effort into cutting expenses and finding new revenue sources.
"This isn't perfect by any means, but I do feel that ... there's not a single dollar being spent without eyes and ears on it," he said. "I feel like we're moving in the right direction."
Councilman Mark Shooshanian commented that balancing the budget is still largely dependent upon union negotiations, which are still ongoing.
The city has asked that all departments–including police and fire–cut personnel costs by 10 percent.
“I have a very difficult time seeing with clarity on the horizon of when it’s going to get better,” Councilman Abraham said. "I just don't know with certainty that in a short period of time–four budget cycles after this–if we're going to be able to overcome (the elimination of) personal property tax as well as the sunset of 3.5 mills with the type of structure we have.
"I'm very concerned about that."
Abraham asked Mayor Jack O'Reilly if he felt he could eliminate the structural deficit with the resources available.
O'Reilly said it would depend largely on cutting personnel costs and cutting overhead by engaging in shared services with neighboring communities.
"It won't be without a lot of change," he said. "But it is doable."
Update, 7:10 p.m.
Councilwoman Suzanne Sareini moved to adopt the budget without a reduction to the 19th District Court budget, and enacting the full 3.5 mills afforded by voters.
Councilmembers Nancy Hubbard, O'Donnell, Tafelski, Abraham and Bazzy voted no, and the budget did not pass.
Councilman O'Donnell moved to adopt the budget with a reduction to the court.
Councilmembers Shooshanian and Tafelski voted no, but the budget did pass.