Joseph Madore drew rave reviews from council members last week when he presented his first municipal budget since taking over as Oxford Village manager in December.
“I commend you,” said Councilman Erik Dolan. “It’s exceptional work.”
“You came (here) at a difficult time in the village history in terms of the transition (following the departure of the manager and clerk-treasurer) and . . . you were able to square things away,” said Councilman Joe Frost. “I think that it’s demonstrated here in this presentation.”
“We’re making progress and I’m looking forward to the budget (workshop) sessions for the first time ever,” said Councilman Dave Bailey.
Madore’s proposed budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year, which begins July 1, contains a general fund with revenues and expenditures balancing at $1.988 million.
The largest portion of the proposed general fund is $727,585 for the police department.
Madore’s proposed budget is supported by the current property tax rate of 10.62 mills. That’s been the village rate since 2010.
One mill is equal to $1 for every $1,000 of taxable value.
Under the proposed budget, the general fund has a starting fund balance of $881,465, which equals 44.34 percent of the expenditures for the year.
“It’s not dire,” Madore told council. “You’re in good shape. You have a healthy fund balance.”
The fund balance contains cash reserves that can be spent or saved at the municipality’s discretion. The Government Finance Officers Association recommends maintaining a minimum fund balance equal to two months of normal operations, which works out to approximately 17 percent.
In order to balance revenues and expenditures, Madore’s proposed budget calls for transferring $136,472 from the fund balance to help cover the village’s projected expenses in 2018-19.
Madore admitted, “That’s not where you want to be and you can’t live there because you’ll eat up your fund balance.”
But he also told council that using this $136,472 in reserves in the upcoming fiscal year is “something you can live with.”
That’s because “some of (the bond debts) that have been weighting you down for many years are going to fall away” in the next few years as they get paid off, which will free up money that’s been traditionally used to satisfy them, according to Madore.
In his “budget notes” memo to council, the manager wrote, “The general fund has bond payments for the 2005 capital improvement bonds, of which 24 percent ($73,622) is paid by the DDA and 76 percent ($233,137) is paid by the general fund. The budgets for the 2018/2019 and the 2019/2020 fiscal years are the last budgets that have to account for this expense as the last bond payments are (due) March 1, 2020.”
Dolan asked Madore how the village’s switch from local to county dispatch services has affected the budget.
“That had a big impact,” the manager replied.
Oakland County Sheriff’s dispatchers have been answering all 9-1-1 and police-related calls in the village since Nov. 30, 2016. The village is paying the county $32,050 for the current service year.
“It seems to be working okay now,” Madore said. “I have not heard anything negative as far as the 9-1-1.”
The village had operated its own dispatch center for many years before closing it and contracting with the county as a cost-saving measure. Prior to this, the village’s dispatch budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year was $338,300, of which $300,000 was slated to come from the general fund.
Council was extremely pleased with the way Madore revamped the budget format, making it easier to read and understand.
“I couldn’t have hoped for more,” Dolan said.
“Visually, this is wonderful,” said Frost, who noted he particularly liked the use of different colors and larger print.
“I just wanted to commend you on the work that you’ve done,” Frost said.
Dolan noted the old budget format under the previous manager was “very convoluted.” Council wanted it simplified and he believes Madore accomplished that goal.
“I think this is what most of us had envisioned when we were talking about making some of these changes,” he said.
“If nothing else was achieved this year, I think I’d be relatively satisfied (with this),” Dolan noted.
Madore admitted drafting this first budget in a new format was no easy task.
“It’s like putting together a 1,000-piece Lego (toy) without the box,” he said.
The village scheduled a public hearing regarding the proposed budget for its 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 8 council meeting. It will be held in the council chambers located at 22 W. Burdick St.
Council is expected to adopt the budget at its 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 22 meeting.