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May 28

Budget Fun: PART ONE

Comments (14) 12:30 PM posted by admin |

The City of Ypsilanti has finally concluded its budget sessions. While most residents ignore the budget, they are never dull and are always filled with tons of fascinating information.

Take this for example:

The City’s Fire Chief is the highest-paid, fully-loaded employee in the City. For FYE 2009, his loaded costs to the City come in at $159,851. For FYE 2010, that rises to $165,162.

This increase is the result of a Council decision back in February of 2007 to amend the ordinance for the Fire and Police retirement system. Council voted 6-1 to provide a pension to the Fire Chief. As a result, this increased the cost of having a Fire Chief more than $73K per year. At that meeting, the former Assistant City Manager said the increased liability to the City was only $99,570 ammortized over 30 years. There was no mention of the massive increase in fringe benefits for future Fire Chiefs.

To put this in perspective, on January 7th of 2007, the City was paying a fully-loaded cost of $172,730 for both the Fire Chief and Fire Marshal. Today we pay almost that amount for one person.

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  1. Comment by eTigger
    May 28, 2008 @ 3:45 pm

    Ahhh… the wonders of incurious elected officials blithely dropping budget balls and fiscal bombs on the residents of our fair City.

    Thanks Mr. Gawlas and Mr. Nickels for your generosity with tax dollars!

  2. Comment by Paul Schreiber
    May 29, 2008 @ 11:32 pm

    The Ypsilanti city fire chief pension was increased from 2% to 3% to match the firefighters’ 3% pension that had been adopted in 2002 (page seven of the February 6, 2007 council packet has an explanation.)

    This year Ypsilanti city council adopted a command police officers union contract that dropped the pension for new hires from 3% at 20 years and out to 2.5% and 25 years and out (page thirteen of the March 4, 2008 city council minutes.) This resolution was adopted by city council six to zero. The firefighters’ contract is still being negotiated.

    Paul Schreiber

  3. Comment by CEK
    May 30, 2008 @ 7:15 am

    Are the numbers right or wrong?

  4. Comment by Paul Schreiber
    May 30, 2008 @ 11:45 am

    The fringe benefit calculation seems high and may be caused by “other post employee benefits”. OPEB was recently added to the budget numbers to plan for benefit costs after employees retire. This is a new requirement for local governments.

    Paul Schreiber

  5. Comment by John Gawlas
    May 30, 2008 @ 1:44 pm

    Fire Administration – Expenditures
    $227,611 (FYE 2007)
    $206,251 (FYE 2008)
    $215,278 (FYE 2009)
    $221,847 (FYE 2010)

    Fire Suppression – Expenditures
    $2,553,310 (FYE 2007)
    $2,743,720 (FYE 2008)
    $2,497,239 (FYE 2009)
    $2,563,688 (FYE 2010)


  6. Comment by brobb
    May 30, 2008 @ 2:31 pm

    Attached to Council member Gawlas’ budget numbers should be FTEs (full-time employees). The previous Fire Chief was employed with the City through January 31, 2007. For 7 months of the budget cycle, we had 2 employees in Fire Administration. For the remaining 5 months, we had 1 employee in Fire Administration and that was at the new pension level. For FYE 2008, 09, and 10, there is only one person in Fire Administration split between Fire Chief and Fire Marshal. That, in itself, creates a whole new set of problems, but I digress.

    As previously posted, two employees were costing us $172,730 a year as of January 2007. One employee will now costs us $159,851 in FYE 09 and $165,162 in FYE 10. The City regularly publishes the salaries and loads of all employees and can be had by requesting it from one of your Council members or directly from the City Manager’s office.

    As far as OPEB contributions go, those have always been handled through Fund 736 which is where the monies for the OPEB trust are located. Transfers from the General Fund into the OPEB trust began in FYE 07.

    At the end of the day, my colleagues and I are saying the same thing, except in two different ways. No one is disputing the numbers I presented.

  7. Comment by brobb
    May 30, 2008 @ 6:05 pm

    In some of the most awesome of awesome moments, City Staff has been working to respond to this blog post.

    The memo can be found HERE.

    Finally, I think we can all agree on the numbers.

    According to the City, a Fire Chief and Fire Marshal cost $174,655 in FYE 07. I said $172,730 because I didn’t include overtime.

    According to the City, a Fire Chief will cost $153,391 for FYE 09 and $158,509 in FYE 10, but those numbers don’t match what’s in the budget posted online. The budget posted online has my original figures of $159,851 and $165,162.

  8. Comment by Steve Pierce
    May 30, 2008 @ 11:31 pm

    Wow, I am impressed. I didn’t know that if you posted up on this blog that folks from City Hall would respond and provide data and research.

    Then to have your facts fact-checked by a senior manager at city hall. Well, I am doubly impressed.

    And to think, no one had to file a FOIA to get this information.

    I am humbled by your power and your selflessness to use it for good.

    Me, if I had this sort of power and respect, I would want to be able to speed up Huron at 100mph and not get a ticket.


  9. Comment by Paul Schreiber
    May 31, 2008 @ 8:31 am

    After reading the memo from the Ypsilanti city director of administrative services, I hope that we can all agree that the increase in the fire administration budget from FYE2007 to FYE2008 is mainly due to the OPEB bookkeeping change starting in FYE2008. Comparing FYE2007 to FYE2008 city employee fringes without compensating for the OPEB increase is misleading.

    Since council member Robb represents the city of Ypsilanti, I’m sure that city staff would be happy to review his calculations before they are made public.

    Paul Schreiber

  10. Comment by Pete Murdock
    June 1, 2008 @ 12:39 pm

    Mr. Mayor –

    I think councilmember Robb was elected to represent the RESIDENTS of the third ward – not the “City of Ypsilanti” just as you, I would hope, would feel that your responsibility is to represent the residents of the City.

    Pete Murdock

  11. Comment by rodneyn
    June 6, 2008 @ 8:58 pm

    Mr. Mayor,

    I’m grateful that Councilmember Robb chooses to publish this public information without asking permission from city staff.

  12. Comment by a renter
    June 7, 2008 @ 9:31 am

    Yes, it’s important to discuss the Fire Department and Police Department cuts, but what about the building and code enforcement department?

    This is taken from the town hall meeting agenda; “Focus ordinance enforcement efforts only on those deemed most important to maintaining healthy neighborhoods or in response to complaints.”

    I have tried to find city council minutes that actually discuss why this decision is being made. But The city council area of the City of Ypsilanti website has not updated their minutes since April 1st (since the budget has been being discussed…hmmmmmm)

    It seems so ironic, here we are trying to sell the water street project to ANYONE, and the city thinks letting rental properties decline until someone complains is good for the city? Ya right. I have asked a city inspector from another city what they thought about this decision; he laughed and said, where can I apply for a job in that department? I would love to sit around all day and do nothing!”

    On my drive through town each night coming home for work, I can count at least 5 rental properties in a 7 block area that have no screens in the windows, sagging roofs, bad gutters, dangerous porches etc…who knows what they look like inside!

    So when a child or drunk student falls out a window and dies or CHILDREN DIE in fires…I hope the city can afford a huge lawsuit. I wonder if anyone from EMU and the department of student affairs has heard about this decision? It won’t help EMU’s recruiting if we allow the buildings to decline. But the landlords will be happy, and so will district court because of all the money they will collect from landlord tenant cases.

    And one last point: Isn’t the city broke? Then why trim down a department that can make money through permits, fines, and even bigger fines??? It makes no sense to me.

    And if the code enforcement is becoming less strict, then I think the Historical District should also loosen its requirements too, seems only fair.

  13. Comment by Paul Schreiber
    June 21, 2008 @ 12:51 pm

    City council is not cutting the rental inspection program. The city charges for each rental inspection to offset the cost. By state law the city can’t make money on rental inspections.

    The city of Ypsilanti minutes through June 2008 can be downloaded at the city website.

    Paul Schreiber

  14. Comment by a renter
    June 26, 2008 @ 10:59 am

    Mr. Schreiber,

    I would not have posted a comment about the City Website NOT having the minutes posted if:
    1. I didn’t already KNOW how to find the minutes on the website.
    2. If the minutes were indeed updated after Each meeting, then I would have had a clearer understanding of the inspection program when I posted my comment.
    I posted my comment here on June 7th and on that date the last set of minutes posted on the City of Ypsilanti website were the April 8, 2008 minutes. You posted your reply on June 21. 2008 and suddenly all the minutes are now updated. hmmm
    Also, I know that the city cannot “make money” from inspections…but the fees do go somewhere…like any non-profit! So I think the “fees” do serve a greater purpose.
    One last thing, if you are going to comment on websites, you should be aware that your tone on this site and others that I have seen you comment on is always angry and dismissive, just a tip in case you are thinking about running again for mayor. Maybe a friendly tone would be more appropriate for an elected official. Also, if you are commenting on city issues on blogs, I think you should post all your comments on the city website so all residents have access to your comments, instead of the just the readers of those blogs. After all you ARE representing the CITY when you post comments on these sites. I feel like you blew me off….I really have to stop caring about Ypsilanti.

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