One thing not factored into the 2011-12 approved Tuesday evening is a millage increase that is expected to come before Dearborn voters on November's ballot.
Current discussions are suggesting that the proposal would be a 3-mill increase with a sunset provision. The measure would likely support police and fire costs, freeing up general fund monies that could potentially be used to support other city services and programs.
If approved for the ballot by July 8 and passed by voters in November, it could have a significant impact on the 2013 and 2014 city budgets. Mayor Jack O'Reilly, however, warned Tuesday that there are no promises that a millage increase would mean the restoration of any particular facility or service.
"The millage is to be able to sustain essential services, so it would be misleading if everybody thought that if they vote for the millage, then everything goes back to where it was," he said. "I don’t want to send that message.
"When we do (discuss a millage increase) then we want to communicate honestly about what we expect the ramifications to be."
But council President Tafelski said that before the city even gets to that point, he wants to see more internal cuts–including the possible consolidation of several city departments.
"I'm a strong proponent of streamlining," he said, adding that cutting city jobs is not enough. "We need to take it a step further (and consolidate departments). We may find that we run more efficiently."
City Council sent a memo to Mayor O'Reilly on May 31 suggesting that he propose department consolidation. However, when the idea was brought up by Tafelski at Tuesday's night's budget meeting, discussion fizzled quickly.
According to Tafelski, a move like that would need to come from O'Reilly.
"There are some things the mayor needs to do from an administrative perspective that we can't do," he said.
And if that consolidation doesn't happen, Tafelski said he "absolutely will not" support a millage increase.
"We need to show that the city has done everything they can do before we ask for a millage increase," he said.
And some voters say they might not support it, either.
"It seems to me that this budget takes our city from an era of value creation … to a period of value destruction, where we’re actually providing less but we’re charging taxpayers more," commented Tom Slazinski, a Dearborn resident and member of the Wayne County Taxpayers Association.
Slazinski said he was one of the residents who fought the last millage increase, and he's skeptical about any other tax increases, too, when they don't result in more services for residents.
"I don’t think now is a good time to raise taxes on your customers," he said. "These customers continue to struggle in a very uncertain and fragile economy.”