SPECIAL MEETING OF THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NOVI
SATURDAY, JANUARY 7, 2012 AT 10:00 A.M.
FIRE STATION 4 - 49375 W. TEN MILE ROAD
Mayor Gatt called the meeting to order at 10:00 a.m.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
ROLL CALL: Mayor Gatt, Mayor Pro Tem Staudt, Council Members Casey, Fischer, Margolis, Mutch and Wrobel
1. Process Review
Background information: August 31, 2011 Management Staff Retreat’s Brainstormed Ideas; Preliminary CIP Summary; Mid-year Fiscal Analysis updated with new taxable value
City Manager Pearson stated this is another step in building the budget as we take the input from this session that provides the priority list as identified by Council. This is where items will be prioritized. We began with a retreat of administrative officers. This week the early preview of the CIP (Capital Improvement Projects) listing was sent to Council. Finance took taxable values and reported on the tax base that will be our driver for next year. This was put into a modified mid-year fiscal analysis. The tax base seems to be on a course to steadily improve. The process for today will be to first address short term goals within zero to 18 months, then long term goals.
2. Initial thoughts – roundtable discussion
Mayor Gatt noted this is the early input budget session and asked Council members to express their initial thoughts.
Member Mutch noted the budget numbers as presented does drive the budget and stated he was pleased with the numbers. Absent any big changes, we are on a trajectory for positive growth. He cautioned against seeing this as a sense of relief. We can continue to contain costs but the big question mark is what will happen with the personal property tax. It’s important to invest for the long term and we’ve done a good job of that. Pay off long term obligations and continue to invest in community. We still spend $26-27 million out of the general fund and he felt it should go to the benefit of the residents. He was glad to see long term goals returning to this session. That helps provide the framework for moving forward as a community since we have received national recognition as a community.
Member Fischer appreciated having short and long term goals. This will go a long way in accountability and recognizing these goals. As far as the budget, he remains cautiously optimistic. We must continue to be vigilant. We are on a solid footing and seeing upward trending that allows us to take a step back while making short and long term decisions.
Member Margolis stated she wanted to give kudos to staff and administration. It’s pretty impressive seeing the work that goes into that. She gave credit to staff and administration most of the credit for getting us through that difficult time. We have proven that this staff and administration has the competence to manage through difficult financial times. That asset should not be underestimated. We came through with glowing awards and she felt that residents didn’t notice that as we came through it quietly without taking away services and in fact, built a library during that time. Looking back through the past 5 years of fiscal analysis, you can see the changes. We have managed this very responsibly. This was a very hopeful report. We have very smart people here at the City and Council’s job is oversight, vision, long term goals and giving direction. She felt her job now is to look at tackling the broader issue of rebalancing that millage. Council has not grappled with that enough. It really isn’t about changing taxes people pay, but we have done such a good job paying down debt, the other funds are balanced and as we have paid off debt, looking at funding and making sure money is being put in the right buckets. Focus should be more on roads and legacy costs. Again, we’ve made great progress on legacy costs with health care liability and we have reduced expenses. She has great faith in staff and administration. Her focus will be putting money toward things that make this a quality community.
Member Casey appreciated splitting the goals to keep our eye on the challenges coming and was happy to be present for this discussion.
Member Wrobel liked the idea of short and long term goals. He thought when goals were considered, he would like them tuned a little more to give staff better direction.
Mayor Pro Tem Staudt noted we have strong fund balance, but operating on a slight deficit in operating expenses. We have a gap of $1.2 or $1.3 million and we do have funds to make that up. In the fiscal analysis, there are minimal capital improvements provided and it’s currently around $400,000 that may expand up to $2 million and this will have to come from our savings. In the past, we had revenue exceeding expenditures but we don’t have that anymore. He agreed we need to go back to the voters and talk about the fund for parks and recreation and our city streets fund. Both of those would fit under existing millage rates if we utilized the Headlee override, it would provide us a million dollars per year and he supports Council doing this and these specific funds. There’s been a dramatic increase to 33% of the seniors in the City and this will place a great amount of stress in this area. He felt the City should consider relocating these services. As our population ages, there will be greater stress on our public safety services as well. There are other areas such as recreational needs too but the increasing senior population is going to be really important. Also funding the non-motorized master plan is important and he asked to have Council consider fulfilling those plans. It’s also important to focus on strong public safety and continue to provide all resources necessary and not slide in that area at all. He stated he was happy with the amount of savings we have available. Balance this with being conservative as the fiscal analysis gives a great view of a conservative approach to have something left over to reinvest in the city. He is encouraged and also encouraged administration and employees to bring revenue and expenditures closer together. We are not there yet but maybe 2-4 years away and in a much sounder position than many other communities.
Mayor Gatt thanked Mr. Pearson and his staff for all the preparation work and attending the meeting. He noted that Member Margolis hit the nail on the head talking about legacy costs. Novi has always looked forward dealing with legacy costs. In 9 years,
Council has worked diligently in getting us to where we need to be with these costs. It would be wrong to think everything is perfect. We are about $1.2 million short of having revenue and expenses meeting. This is something to keep a focus on in bringing those costs together. There will be talk of millage increases and it is true that some of our millages are not being fully taxed because of Headlee. Those will be important to address.
3. Confirm Major Strategic Theme Categories – Mayor Gatt
City Council brainstormed service improvements for each of the broad Strategic Themes with short-term (next 18 months) and long-term (18 months plus and on-going)
The following are the edited short and long-term items input by Mayor and Council members for each of the 7 Strategic Themes.
1 - Edited Short Term Service Improvements to Ensure Public Safety Services Meet the Needs of the Community (Police, Fire, Public Services)
1 - Edited Long Term Service Improvements to Ensure Public Safety Services Meet the Needs of the Community (Police, Fire, Public Services)
2 – Edited Short Term Service Improvements to Improve Infrastructure (Roads, Water and
2 – Edited Long Term Service Improvements to Improve Infrastructure (Roads, Water and
3 – Edited Short Term Service Improvements to Encourage Economic Development to
Maximize City Revenue and Job Growth
3 – Edited Long Term Service Improvements to Encourage Economic Development to Maximize City Revenue and Job Growth
Council recessed at noon and reconvened at 12:30 p.m.
4 – Edited Short Term Service Improvements to Develop Government Structure and Staff Skills for Effective Delivery of Customer Services and Communication with Community
4 – Edited Long Term Service Improvements to Develop Government Structure and Staff Skills for Effective Delivery of Customer Services and Communication with Community
5 – Edited Short Term Service Improvements to Be a Community that Values Natural Areas, Natural Features and Community Character
5 – Edited Long Term Service Improvements to Be a Community that Values Natural Areas, Natural Features and Community Character
6 – Edited Short Term Service Improvements to Maintain a Fiscally Responsible Government
6 – Edited Long Term Service Improvements to Maintain a Fiscally Responsible Government
7 – Edited Short Term Service Improvements to Enhance Park, Recreation and Cultural Services
7 – Edited Long Term Service Improvements to Enhance Park, Recreation and Cultural Services
Council briefly discussed that there will be items that could be the focus of readjusting millages, however they felt that discussion should take place at the Council table as to the specifics for how to re-balance the millages. Mayor Pro Tem Staudt stated his preference would only include roads and parks and recreation and nothing else.
Council discussed that general adjustment of millages to fund capital improvements was too broad and did not give enough direction to staff. It was noted that with regard to adjusting millages, it was best not to include one with the other. As an example they may only want roads alone or parks alone or fire alone. Consensus was that there needs to be further discussion at the Council table where a policy can be determined.
Council recessed at 1:11 p.m. and reconvened at 1:21 p.m.
d. City Council prioritized within each of the Strategic Themes of service improvements for those items with a rating of 4 or higher.
Mayor Gatt thanked staff and administration for attending the early budget input meeting.
AUDIENCE COMMENTS – None
There being no further business to come before City Council, the meeting was adjourned at 1:52 p.m.
Robert J. Gatt, Mayor Maryanne Cornelius, City Clerk
Date approved: January 23, 2012