By Jessica Mathews /

The Howell City Council has adopted what was described as a maintenance budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

At a recent virtual meeting, Council adopted the 2021/2022 budget following a public hearing in which no members of the public spoke. The budget is projected to end with a general fund balance of $1.67 (m) million, which is slightly above a set 20% target. The City’s overall taxable value is anticipated to increase by 4.7% in 2022, marking a $150,000 overall increase in tax revenues.

Operational millage and rubbish millage rates were also set. It was stated during the meeting that the millage levy will be less than last year’s rate marking a tax decrease. There was said to be a very minimal increase in the rubbish millage, which represents an additional penny for every $1,000 of taxable value.

A memo states the budget maintains current services at present levels while providing flexibility to deal with economic uncertainty concerning any pandemic-related carryovers. The budget continues work on major projects and infrastructure upgrades started in prior years, such as improvements to the wastewater treatment plant and the East Clinton and North National Street Reconstruction project, which is 80% grant-funded.

Mayor Nick Proctor commented that this is a maintenance budget, meaning it sustains core services. He reminded residents that the City will only approve road projects that are at least 80% grant-funded because they simply don’t have the funds to do anything and some roads are really deteriorating quickly. He stated they do have fiscal problems in the City and Council will have to wrestle with those in the future and figure out how to best continue providing core services and maintaining road infrastructure.

Proctor cautioned that there are fiscal stresses in the City that will result in some daunting challenges ahead and big decisions for Council. He noted they’ll likely lose a tenant in City Hall that will reduce revenues by $100,000, which is another area that Council will have to grapple with where to cut to offset that loss.

Some priorities identified for the fiscal year include keeping MERS above 60% amid changing curtail projections, which is the City’s unfunded employee pension liability. Others involve creating a stability fund to strengthen the City’s ability to respond to economic challenges and expanding the City’s ability to communicate with residents.