By Jim Bloch
The St. Clair City Council made a number of adjustments to its fiscal year 2018-2019 budget at its regular meeting on Jan. 6.
Two aspects of the changes make the council’s actions noteworthy. One is how late the adjustments were made: The fiscal year ended nearly four months ago on Sept. 30. The other is that the adjustments appear to have triggered changes in how the city will deal with budget amendments in the future.
“A lot of the things at the end of the fiscal year — which Mike Booth normally did — didn’t get done,” said City Superintendent Warren Rothe at the city’s goal setting session, Jan. 6.
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The city of Marysville hired Booth, then St. Clair’s city superintendent, as its finance director in June.
In September, the council approved a number of amendments to the budget. But those, Rothe said, were inaccurate.
“This cleans up all of that,” said Rothe.
The council approved increasing 11 line item expenditures in the city’s general fund by a total of $1.4 million.
The city transferred $250,000 from the general fund to the pension system, and $554,00 to the local street fund for road work, which weren’t budgeted. The city had unbudgeted expenses related to its new boardwalk and unbudgeted revenue and expenses with the rebuilding of the Imagination Station. The city had an unanticipated problem with mold in the council chambers and the unexpected move of Channel 6 from the old middle school to city hall.
Nonetheless, the general fund ended up with a $317,000 surplus.
“We brought in more than we spent,” said Rothe.
In other governmental funds, the council increased the budgeted revenues in the local street fund from $713,000 to $1.47 million and budgeted expenditures from $713,000 to $1.84 million.
It amended recreation expenditures from $230,542 to $234,434.
The council increased the revenue in the building fund from $98,800 to $244,000, and the expenditures from $131,000 to $156,000.
It lowered cable programming revenue from $109,000 to $100,000 and increased expenditures from $121,000 to $185,000.
The council increased pension revenue from $591,000 to $813,000 and pension expenses from $572,000 to $859,000.
Rothe said he wanted to change the process of amending the budget.
“Now budget amendments are done at the end of the fiscal year,” Rothe said. “I’d like to get away from annual amendments and do it quarterly.”
Rothe said he would like to eliminate budget changes that reflect under-spending, explaining that it distorts long-term need.
“The state says that only overages need to be adjusted,” said Rothe.“I like the quarterly idea,” said Mayor Bill Cedar.