City officials tinker with budget deficit elimination plan


By Charles Sercombe

For the third time, city officials were presented with a plan to cut the city’s budget deficit.

The council already agreed to a deficit elimination plan back in August that included a small property tax increase of 1.89 mills.

The tax increase would help offset payment to a group of retirees who sued the city several years ago over a pension issue. The tax would raise about $325,000 a year.

The tax would also last for only three years, while it will take another 15 years before the lawsuit settlement is paid off.

At a special meeting last Thursday, Acting City Manager Kyle Tertzag presented an updated version of a deficit elimination plan. The council, he said, liked parts of it, and rejected other proposals.

Councilmember Robert Zwolak said talks on city finances will continue. He also said he is confident that the city will receive an emergency state loan that could be worth up to $3 million.

Tertzag told The Review he wasn’t so sure of that.

The city could face payless paydays in the coming months if the loan does not come through.

City finances had been in good shape until about two years ago. The city lost about $3 million a year from cuts in various revenue streams.

That is the amount of money that the city has to come up with to balance the budget. The solution could come from a variety of sources, including additional tax millages, special fees for services and major contract concessions from the city’s employees, including police and fire.

There was speculation that the state will eventually step in and appoint an emergency financial manager, but now that voters rejected the latest version of the law regulating state-appointed emergency managers, things are in limbo.

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