City adopts budget, continues infrastructure investment

Michael  Young

Michael Young

by MICHAEL YOUNG

The City of Rockford is pleased to announce that it has recently adopted its 2013-14 fiscal year budget. The City’s fiscal year runs July 1st to June 30th, and this year’s budget maintains the high level of services our residents have grown accustomed to with a number of very important capital projects.

The total budget is just over $7 million for the fourteen (14) funds that the City operates. The approved millage rate as part of the new fiscal year is 10.9 mils, which represents one of the lowest millage rates in the City’s history and continues a trend of maintaining or lowering the City’s millage rate for the last twenty (20) years. The City’s millage rate is the third lowest in Kent County for those communities that do not levy an income tax. Water and sewer rates will increase slightly by 2%. Over the last five (5) years, the City has seen dramatic decreases in taxable value coupled by plummeting State shared revenue. To offset these declines in revenue, the City has decreased its staffing by 25%, over the last four (4) years. The recent merger of the City’s Police and Fire Departments into a true Public Safety Department has decreased our operational costs and after a year of evaluation, we see our Public Safety responses have even improved. For the first time in five (5) years, the City saw a minor increase in property tax revenue of $10,000. To put that into perspective, our property tax revenue declined $60,000 last year so we still have a long way to go. We are seeing very positive signs of the economy improving in the City and new housing starts are up dramatically. The City’s budget has also benefited by a number of bond issues falling off, which has reduced our overall debt load significantly.

Despite these challenges, the City will be investing heavily in its infrastructure. The Downtown Development Authority will be repaving almost all of the parking lots in downtown Rockford as well as repaving Squires Street, replacing large amounts of sidewalk and improving the drainage in the downtown district. Many of you have probably seen the street rehabilitation that is going on in the Sigsbee, Norwood, Adolph and Elizabeth neighborhood, including new public water, sewer, storm sewer, curb and gutter, and streets. This project was funded by $1.1 million capital improvement bond at a 2.7% interest rate. The City will also be initiating resurfacing projects on Fremont Street, from Ten Mile to the City limits, Bridge Street from Fremont to Lincoln, Monroe Street from Courtland to the Community Cabin, Helen Street, James Street, Longview Street, as well as completing the resurfacing of Courtland Street from Fremont to Monroe. As you can see from this summary, infrastructure has and always will be a top priority for the City along with meeting our Public Safety needs. Lastly, the City will be continuing its meter change-out program where all of the water meters throughout the entire City will be changed to new technology over the next five (5) years.

I would like to personally thank all of our department heads for their hard work and dedication in putting together this budget and recognize the enormous amount of work the Council put into the development and approval of the budget. Should you have any additional questions regarding the new budget year, please do not hesitate to contact me at myoung@rockford.mi.us or at 866-1537.

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