Battle Creek’s FY 2019 Budget Could See Millage Increase, Continued Police Reductions
For the next Fiscal Year, some of those cuts could linger on.
The Battle Creek City Commission held a public workshop on May 2 to present the proposed FY 2019-2020 budget to the public, and allow for anyone interested to provide their input. In her presentation, City Manager Rebecca Fleury said that the proposed budget would see a .185 mill increase to the Police and Fire Pension annual contribution, and 2% raises and steps for employees without union representation. The budget also contributes $300,000 less to the Transit Department from the general fund.
The budget also does not provide for any contributions to pay for beds at the Calhoun County Jail, which is an issue the City and Calhoun County have been fighting over for some time. The County insists Battle Creek has to pay, while the City says they are not obligated.
Battle Creek Police Chief Jim Blocker gave a presentation on his department's proposed budget at the workshop. He said that in response to the budget shortfall, his department have reduced the number of officers per shift by two, reduced overtime, and continued "priority focused training" to cut down on costs. Blocker says all of these reductions are expected to continue into FY 2019-2020.
As well, Battle Creek Fire Chief Brian Sturdivant gave a presentation on how the budget shortfall affected his department; it resulted in the BCFD eliminating some overtime and holiday pay, and reducing the minimum number of staff to 18 from 19. With general fund revenue expected to increase slightly, at the very least the minimum staffing is expected to return to 20 people.
Some discussion was had on the Transit Department, by Assistant City Manager Ted Dearing and Transportation Director Mallory Avis. While $300,000 less will be given to Transit for FY 2019-20, the department did receive $461,000 more from state and federal sources, with Dearing saying he's "optimistic" that will continue. Some proposals were given regarding ways to counter the projected $191,000 deficit Transit will face at the end of FY 2020; Avis says she'd like to implement further advertising on and in buses and bus shelters, bringing in somewhere between $30,000 and $50,000 per year.
She also says some potential changes include a $.25 regular fare increase, a $1.00 ADA para-transit fare increase, and a transfer rate charge of $.50. It's estimated that could bring in $105,000 for FY 2019 and $140,000 by FY 2020. This would ultimately result in an average increase of $30 per month to the end user, assuming they ride 5 days per week with a general pass. Avis noted, however, the Transit Master Plan didn't factor in a potential loss of riders due to the fare increase.
You can see the complete minutes of the budget workshop here.