City of Niles facing $249,000 2010-11 deficitPublished 4:36pm Friday, August 13, 2010
By AARON MUELLER
Niles Daily Star
When discussing his work on the 2010-2011 budget, Niles City Administrator Terry Eull has just one word to describe it.
“This is by far the worst in the last five years,” Eull said. “It’s bleak in the sense that revenue, expenses and employees are all down.”
Eull said the city has budgeted in the red the past five years in the row, but this year looks to be the worst.
A $249,000 deficit is the most concerning problem, and the city may need to dip into its fund balance to cover it if the new fiscal year ends as expected.
Eull also lamented that revenues are down $350,000 and expenses are down $220,000.
Property taxes dropped $150,000 and revenue sharing by $200,000 — a big reason for the shortfall the city faces, according to Eull.
And Eull said the forecast for the next several years doesn’t look much better, although he is hopeful property tax value will increase slightly next year. He added it may be difficult just to break even in the upcoming years.
“Continued reductions make it really difficult to proved the level of service we have,” he said.
A potential boost to the city’s finances could come through the sale of the Southeast Berrien County Landfill, which is owned by five local municipalities, including the city of Niles. If sold, the money would be divvied up by population, and Niles, having the second highest, would benefit.
Representatives from the municipalities have voted to sell the facility, and an appraisal estimated its value between $18 million and $20 million.
Eull is hopeful the landfill will be sold soon but added the council hasn’t discussed plans for how the money would be used.
There have also been discussions of selling or leasing the Pucker Street dam, but Eull said even if it sold, the city wouldn’t make a significant amount of money off of it.
The Niles City Council will vote on the approval of the budget at its next board meeting Aug. 23 at the Niles fire station. There will be a public hearing regarding the budget beforehand at 5:55 p.m.