The Howell City Council will meet for a work session later today to talk finances and next steps as it grapples with a gloomy budget picture.

Council recently adopted the 2018/2019 budget, although with reduced road and capital projects. The City has been facing budget pressures for years but is now at the point where revenues need to increase or services need to be reduced. Council has since indicated intent to pursue a Headlee Override election, possible in November, after a surprising 4-3 vote against instituting a city-wide public safety special assessment after hearing from dozens of residents during two packed meetings.

Today’s work session is what City Manager Shea Charles suspects will be the first of several to lay out next steps after the vote not to proceed with the public safety assessment. He says it will involve talking about next steps, how a Headlee Override works and the potential ask as well as start charting out the public participation process in regard to the overall budget and fiscal structure for the City.

Council has agreed the current financial path the City is on is not sustainable, due to a broken state funding model and years of making different budget efficiencies. A number of outside factors have been at play to impact the City’s budget including a reduction in state shared revenue, the impact of the 2008 recession and loss of 27.6% of taxable value, limitations of Proposal A and the Headlee Amendment. Council and staff have repeatedly stated the fiscal stress is not unique to the City and similar communities are looking at either enhanced revenue or reduced services.

Tonight’s work session starts at 5pm on the second floor of Howell City Hall and is open to the public. Information and an agenda are available on the City of Howell website. That link is provided. (JM)