The Brighton City Council has had two study sessions this week – with more coming up next week – on how to meet the challenges in the projected 2018-19 city budget.

City Manager Nate Geinzer tells WHMI there are two problem areas that may surpass all the others he has to deal with: the deteriorating state of the city’s streets and the huge annual increases in health insurance costs for its personnel. In the last billing period, Brighton received a huge 40% increase in the health insurance rates it pays for its retirees. Geinzer says there is little the city can do other than to "roll with the punches" - like everybody else - when it comes to spiraling health insurance costs.

Also at the budget session Thursday night, council discussed the Community Development Dept. and the need to hire a full-time community development director. The city has put out a notice that it is seeking a community development director and hopes to hire a qualified person in the near future. Brighton has not had a full-time director in that department since Matt Modrach, credited with much of the success of Brighton’s vibrant downtown, passed away in August of 2016.

Assistant to the City Manager and Downtown Development Authority Coordinator Brandon Skopek told council that there has been an increase in cooperation between the DDA and the city in the last year. Skopek said the DDA has willingly come forward with funding assistance for endeavors like the Challis Road and Second Street improvement projects.

Skopek said it is to the DDA’s credit that the group is willing to fund a portion of those projects, since Challis and Second are outside its boundaries, and therefore not subject to a DDA capture of a portion of their taxes. The next special council meeting to review the projected city budget is scheduled for next Tuesday at 6 p.m. (TT)