Council approves 2016, 2017 budgets

Clarkston’s 2016 budget amendment and 2017 budget resolution were approved unanimously by City Council, June 27.
Council approved an adjusted 12.1056 mill operating levy for the General Fund budget. The levy was reduced from 12.5069 to reflect a 2014 resolution to lower the levy by 0.691 to compensate for additional library costs to city residents.
The reduced levy is budgeted to cut revenue by $16,000, said City Manager Carol Eberhardt.
The new budget eliminates an estimated $12,000 surplus, as well as $4,000 from health insurance costs, Eberhardt said.
The budget amendment transfers $54,000 from the general fund to cover current activity and unpaid invoices regarding the proposed DPW building expansion and south Depot Park bridge, said Treasurer Caitlin Bentoski.
Speaking during public comment, Cory Johnston, resident and former council member, said the budget amendment was excessive.
“You cannot spend money not approved by council and you have,” Johnston said. “Michigan law and the City Charter both require that no expenditure be made without the approval of the council and no funds be spent in excess of what the council approves for funding. Approval after the fact is a violation of law, Charter and good municipal practices.”
“I do think we have made mistakes (but) we’ve never gotten a bad audit,” said Council member Sharron Catallo.
Council member Michael Sabol said he agreed with Catallo.
“But I would not agree there has been a violation of the law,” Sabol said.
The council member called for complete accounting for the DPW and bridge projects.
“We should have each of those fully accounted for so we can show everybody, this is what we have and what we spent,” Sabol said.
Bentoski said the city is permitted to pay outstanding bills after the June 30 budget deadline. Amendments, however, cannot be made after June 30.
“We want the amended budget to be higher than the activity,” she said.
Resident Chet Pardee asked who authorized and approved the unbudgeted expenses, and who decided amending the budget at that time was not necessary.
“There needs to be a recommitment to follow city ordinances, city charter, and the state budget act,” Pardee said.
Mayor Joe Luginski said he had the same questions, and would be meeting with architect James Renaud to discuss them.
Luginski, Catallo, Sabol, and council members Jason Kneisc and Eric Haven voted for the resolutions.
Council members David Marsh and Al Avery were absent.