Debt service fee increase discussed


File Photo

Mayor Miken Inman facilitates discussion on debt service fees Monday.

Steven Barnum, Assistant News Editor

In a short gathering, the Macomb city council continued discussions on next year’s budget and raising the debt service fee.

With several absences on the council, the public hearing for the town’s budget took place on Monday night. City Administrator Dean Torreson recapped to the public that the city of Macomb is expected to take in around $26.5 million in revenue, while expecting to spend around just $25.7 million.

These numbers indicate that for the 2018/2019 fiscal year, which stretches from May 1 of this year to April 30 of 2019, Macomb will have a balanced budget.

While there may be a $200,000 deficit in the general fund, Torreson assured that it wouldn’t be as issue; Macomb’s cash balance is expected to be at 28 percent of the budget at the end of next year, which is more than the recommended 25 percent of the budget.

“We’re forecasting that it will result in a balanced budget in the coming years,” Torreson said. “We should be in good shape.”

Mayor Mike Inman thanked everyone who thoroughly worked on the budget over the past few months, and offered his thoughts on the town’s future.

“This is moving us in the right direction in being fiscally conservative and being good stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars,” Inman said.

With the perceived balanced budget, one proposal is that the town put more money into the police and fire department pension. That proposal, along with the rest of the budget’s proposals, could be finalized at next week’s meeting.

The council also discussed amending the city’s fee schedule, which calls for an increase in the debt service fee of $2 per month. If you can recall, this has been discussed in multiple meetings and was criticized by Macomb citizen Dana Walker.

“I still really object to raising the debt service fee for everybody,” said Alderman Gayle Carper, sticking up for Walker. “I wish we had a better way.”

Echoing Carper’s objection was Alderman at Large Don Wynn, who spoke on behalf of disappointed residents who have voiced their concerns. “I had a few calls about this (raising the fee),” Wynn said. “I got to wonder if there were any other alternatives.”

Explaining why raising the debt service fee makes the most sense was Torreson. “We need a certain amount of revenue from the water department to pay the bills,” he said, “and the debt service fee is the proven way of raising the funds that we need.” In previous years, there were water rate increases, recalls Torreson, and those increases were ineffective.

Regarding Walker’s idea, which proposed that higher volume users pay a higher fee than lower volume users, Torreson and the Public Works Committee believe doing so will harm the town’s chances of landing potential businesses, while also harming its reputation with existing businesses. Final action for raising the debt service fee will take place at next Monday night’s meeting at 5:15 p.m.