By Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Through planning and controlling costs over the past several years, the City of Wyoming had good news with its 2017 budget: the city is recovering from the economic downturn the state experienced about six years ago.
The City of Wyoming, like many Michigan municipalities, faced challenging times when the housing market decline that caused the city’s taxable value to drop. Coupled with the fact that the State of Michigan has diverted state money away from Michigan municipalities since 2002 – about a $2 million lost annually for the City of Wyoming – city officials have worked to provide the same level of services to its residents with less income.
And the city has succeed in doing just that, according to City Manager Curtis Holt. The 2017 budget is about $105.4 million, a 4.7 percent increase over last year with no scheduled increases in the local millage and sewer and water rates. In fact, the city’s millage will remain the same as it has been for the past two years at 11.9073 mills.
“Compared to similar cities we maintain a very low cost per capita for the services we provide,” City Manager Curtis Holt said. “The leaning of the organization hasn’t stopped service delivery, though. We’re committed to investing in technology and training to continue to provide better service and greater value while ensuring the safety of residents and city employees. This year’s budget reflects our work to maximize every tax dollar we receive.”
In fact, staffing levels have decreased from 2006’s 402 to 345.5, but this does include the addition of five and half new positions to the city including a part-time firefighter program introduced in 2016, which continues to provide significant overtime cost savings, while improving response times and firefighter coverage.
Other positive factors impacting the city’s 2017 budget include the state’s 17 percent increase in road funding which will allow the city to spend down some of its reserves in its street funds; the relocation of the Wyoming’s public safety dispatch operations and the refinancing of two water bonds and the anticipated payoff of one water bond.
Residents will see an increase in property tax of about 1.97 percent, which is actually less than the 5.6 percent assessed value. The reason for this is that in 1994, Michigan voters approved Proposal A, which is designed to limit the growth in property taxes by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) until ownership in the property is transferred. The CPI is a statistic calculated by the State of Michigan that tracks the cost of living in Michigan.
Most property taxes are based on a capped value multiplied by the CPI or 5 percent, whichever is lower which has crimped how quickly Michigan municipalities such as Wyoming can recoup from when property values dropped in 2009. In fact, even with the slight property tax increase, making the city’s taxable value around $2.35 billion, the city’s overall taxable value is still about $338 million below the highs of 2009, when the housing market crashed. This represents a lost of about $1.6 million in revenues to the city, said Deputy Finance Director Rosa Ooms as she presented the council the 2017 budget at a meeting last month.
The lost of taxable value also has hit Wyoming’s Downtown Development Authority, whose budget was also approved by the council in May. While the council has adjusted the amount the DDA can capture, the current funding has limited what the authority has been able to do, Holt said.
Despite the fact that the city probably will not see its taxable values return to the levels of 2009 for about another 14 years, Wyoming residents will see several improvement projects taking place in the upcoming year such as work at several of the city parks including Palmer, Kelloggsville, Lemery and Pinery along with improvements at the Wyoming Senior Center, the reconstruction and widening of 56th Street from Ivanrest Avenue to Byron Center Avenue and upgrades to the Kent District Library Wyoming branch.
Mayor Jack Poll cited the City’s tradition of maintaining its fiscal stability and commended Holt for his work and commitment to balancing the budget. “Our city runs extremely efficiently thanks to the good work done by the city manager and our city employees,” Poll said. “They serve our community admirably while working to maintain a healthy and sustainable financial position.”
For further information, call the City of Wyoming at 530-7272 or click here.