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Posted: 06/25/14

Village trustees approve $6.8 million budget

Observer Staff Writer
      Major projects on roads, water and sewer have raised Romeo's annual budget numbers for the upcoming year.
       The Village of Romeo Board of Trustees gave unanimous approval to a $6.8 million budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year during its June 16 meeting.
       Last year, the board approved of a $6.24 million budget. Village Clerk Marian McLaughlin said the main sources of the increases were projects or expenditures in nearly every area.
       "Our streets have a project, the wastewater treatment plant has a filter repair project, the water has iron removal repairs," she said.
       One of those new projects will be the rebuilding of E. St. Clair Street from Van Dyke to Clinton Street. The entire project will cost about $960,000, but 80 percent of it is tentatively funded through a federal grant. The remaining 20 percent would be split between the Macomb County Department of Roads and Romeo.
       To pay for its $158,400, the board voted 6-0 to increase the municipal streets millage to 1.25 mills, up from 1 mill. The millage increase will last for a year.
       With the new rate, the municipal street fund is expected to increase to $259,725, whereas last year's initial figure was $162,885.
       "That will be used to off-set the cost of the street paving," said Village President Mike Lee.
       The project is expected to begin in May 2015 and be completed in the fall.
       Other street repairs were figured into the budget. Local streets are up to $507,220 when compared to last year's $315,220, and major streets are $302,300, up slightly from $299,550.
       McLaughlin said the increased funding is to help repair the 14 miles of aging roads in the village. She said Romeo receives about $200,000 from Act 51 money, but needs the millage to properly maintain the roads.
       "The last time they were fully paved was 1994 and 1995, and the average life expectancy is 16-18 years at most," she said.
       For water and sewer, the board budgeted $85,000 for capital projects for the wastewater treatment plant, and another $185,730 for water capital projects.
       The water fund was approved at $658,000, up from the 2013-14 amount of $601,000, while the wastewater fund was just over $1 million.
       McLaughlin said the village is bonding $55,000 for a new sewer vacuum vehicle, while a total of $138,129 will replace the filter and media system in the iron removal plant.
       Water rates were approved to rise this year, which McLaughlin said will help pay for rate increases from Detroit Water and Sewerage. The average bill for utilities will now be $95.50 per quarter, up from $88.
       The board also approved marginally increasing the motor pool fund from $152,500 to $155,050.
Taxing troubles

       The general fund accounts for $2.9 million of the budget, which is higher than the original 2013-14 budget of $2.73 million. The millage rate for general operating purposes will remain at 13 mills.
       Lee said the village will have to see how potential changes to personal property taxes will affect the budget. Voters will choose on Aug. 5 on whether to support Proposal 1, a statewide issue that would eliminate the state's personal property tax and replace it with a local community stabilization share.
       If no reimbursements were given, Romeo would lose 34 percent of its revenue. If Proposal 1 is supported, though, cities and towns would have a source to replace lost tax revenue for fire, police and emergency services.
       "I don't believe state of Michigan knows where that money is coming from yet," said Lee outside of the meeting.
       McLaughlin is more optimistic, saying the state is reconfiguring how to reimburse communities.
       "I don't think we'll be hit as hard as everyone thinks," she said.

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Retrieved 7/29/2015 at 2:50:22 AM.
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