The Brighton City Council will be discussing the city budget for the upcoming fiscal year in the coming weeks.

The recommended general fund spending plan for fiscal 2019-20 is $10.3 million, which is about $1.3 million more than the current year budget, and includes a transfer of about $1.8 million into a new Capital Reserve Fund, which will be used to fund future capital. In his budget presentation at last week’s council meeting, City Manager Nate Geinzer said that although the city passes a capital improvements program every year, no funding is committed. As a result, projects which are sorely needed are never funded and end up being put on the back burner each year.

As part of his budget recommendations, Geinzer is asking council to set aside and transfer to the new Capital Reserve Fund the first one mill of property tax revenues for capital improvements. He says with the dedicated mill, over time, the city will see some genuine improvements in its infrastructure. The 2019-20 city budget also sets aside 10% of annual depreciation for future capital needs into the new Capital Reserve Fund. Geinzer is recommending the use of a portion of the city’s projected fund balance for next year to kick-start the new fund.

Voters will be going to the polls on May 7th with a request of 2.5 mills for 7 years, which would generate about $1.15 million per year for city streets. A Headlee Amendment override request last August, also earmarked for improving the city’s streets, lost by the relatively slim margin of 128 votes. Had it passes, the 4.35-mill override would have generated approximately $1.85 million per year over 10 years. Council feels the smaller amount and shorter duration of the 2019 request will give the ballot issue a better chance of passing. If it doesn’t pass, the city will have far fewer funds to use for street improvement projects, which will be limited to mostly maintenance work.

The city has scheduled four budget work sessions to flesh out and refine Geinzer’s recommended budget for the coming year. The first of these will be held on April 4th at 6:30 p.m. at city hall, to be followed by work sessions on April 8th and 9th — and another on the 10th, if needed — all at 6:30 p.m. in council chambers. A public hearing will be held at the regular May 2nd council meeting before the budget is adopted. (TT)