By Tom Travis
The City of Flint’s $71 million budget will be discussed in public hearings held by the city council on four days in April. The city council will hold departmental budget hearings for both the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 city budgets.
According to a press release from the city council and finance committee chair Santino Guerra (3rd Ward) the public hearings will be held on
- Monday, April 5
9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. to discuss departmental budgets for Finance, Payroll, Purchasing, Information Technology, Treasury, Customer Service and Assessments and the General Budget.
- Wednesday, April 14
9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. to discuss the Police Department budget.
11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. to discuss the Fire Department budget.
1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. to discuss the City Attorney’s Office budget.
2:30 p.m to 4:30 p.m. to discuss the Mayor’s office/Administration budget.
- Monday, April 19
9:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. to discuss the Planning and Development/Zoning/Business services/Blight and Community and Economic Development (CED) budget.
1:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. to discuss the Human Resources and Labor relations budget.
2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. to discuss the Office of the Ombudsperson budget.
3:30 p.m to 4:30 p.m. to discuss the City Clerk and City Council budget.
- Wednesday, April 28
9:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. to discuss the Department of Public Works (DPW)/Sanitation/Transportation/Street Maintenance budget.
1:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to discuss the Water Treatment Plant/Water Pollution Control/Water Service Center budget.
A link to the City Budget
The two-year proposed budget can be viewed here or at the end of this article.
No quorum necessary and no public speaking
For the public hearings on the budget, a quorum is not necessary for the city council, and council members may join and leave the electronic meeting throughout the hearings. Public speaking is not allowed but the public is encouraged to listen by telephone or to listen on the City of Flint meetings YouTube channel.
How the public can listen to the public budget hearings
The public and members of the press can listen in to the discussions between city council and the City of Flint department heads by calling in at (617) 944-8177 or by listening to the live stream on the City of Flint meetings Youtube channel.
For questions or concerns or for additional information contact the City Council office at (810) 766-7418.
What is in the proposed $71 million budget?
In March the mayor presented a proposed $71-million budget for FY(fiscal year)2021-22 to the Flint City Council.
“The balanced budget proposal makes investments in blight cleanup, the City Clerk’s office and the Ombudsperson’s office while keeping staffing levels and expenses stable,” a press release from the mayor’s office stated.
‘In this proposed budget, we are keeping costs down while also fulfilling our responsibilities to serve residents, care for our retirees and fulfill Charter requirements,’” Neeley said in the press release.
Mayor Neeley outlined large increases to the city‘s pension system that are draining the General Fund. Last year’s budget projected a $12-million deficit for the FY22 budget. Through the City‘s operational audit, that $12 million gap was closed and the mayor presented a balanced budget.
According to the proposed budget, as way of explanation to the large increases that are draining the city’s General Fund, it states, “The City of Flint is responsible for making employer contributions to ensure adequate funding for the City’s Pension and retiree health care commitments. Beginning in FY2021, the pension‐based employer contributions greatly accelerated by almost 40 percent in one year from $24 million a year to over $33 million a year.
After a one‐year pause in FY2020, this figure will again increase to $39 million and then remain at that level for many years. The reason for this huge increase is that the Flint pension has been paying out over $50 million a year and simply did not earn enough money through employer contributions or investment increases and was facing a steadily decreasing asset base.
These overall costs and cost increases are largely borne by the General Fund, and to a lesser extent by the Water and Sewer funds. This remains as one of the most important budget challenges for the city government. “
“This is a blessed budget, but it is a fragile budget,” Mayor Neeley said.
“Emergency managers failed to truly fix the City‘s finances because they never addressed these known legacy costs — and at the same time they created a false sense of security by raiding the Water & Sewer funds and taking out loans that the city still is paying back,” Neeley asserted in the press release.
The City of Flint’s 2021-2023 budget can be viewed here:
EVM Managing Editor, Tom Travis, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org