The Brighton City Council is working on ways to increase revenues in order to meet the increasing costs of government.

At a study session preceding the regular meeting last week, City Manager Nate Geinzer discussed with council the challenges the city faces in maintaining a healthy fund balance while continuing to perform the services residents expect. Council looked at potential new revenue sources, which, by law, are very limited to a municipality. Plante Moran Partner Martin Olejnik says that new revenue sources for the city are pretty much limited to a Headlee override.

A Headlee override would have to go before the voters for approval. Brighton is heavily dependent on property taxes, with 72% of its revenues coming from residential, commercial and industrial taxes. The current tax levy in the city is about 15.8 mills and although the city charter authorizes a levy of up to 20 mills, the city is right at the Headlee limit, meaning any increase would have to go to the voters. Such a step would be necessary because Headlee limits a tax increase to 5% or the rate of inflation — whichever is lower. In the city of Brighton, one mill equals $420,000 in revenue, so a 1-mill override would provide the city with about $1.3 million over a 3-year period.

City Manager Nate Geinzer says the primary reason the city is having discussions on a possible Headlee override is the poor condition of most city streets. But he says there are other needs, including putting more resources into maintaining existing city facilities and replacing aging equipment. Geinzer stresses that discussions are preliminary at this juncture and no decisions have been made on a Headlee override request or any other proposal. Although other revenue sources have been explored, Geinzer says only a Headlee override would provide the sustainable funding the city needs over the long term. Geinzer says no decision has been made on whether a Headlee override will be pursued, nor when such a request would be on the ballot. (TT)