Thursday, June 24, 2010

Lots and Lots of Streets

In our most recent newsletter we had a did you know feature where we pointed out that geographically Lake Isabella is the second largest village in the state. The largest "village" in terms of square miles is the Village of Mackinaw City. While the name has "city" in it, the town is actually a village form of government... confusing I know.

As part of updating our Master Plan the Village is creating a spreadsheet of all Villages in the state to see where we rank in terms of several key factors like population, taxable value, streets, and growth since the 2000 Census.

In terms of streets Lake Isabella once again comes in second. Our street network of 26 miles is second only to the Village of Franklin. The two tables below show the largest 15 village street networks in Michigan, and also the networks of other municipalities in our region.

Top 15 Village Street Networks

Mid-Michigan Region Street Networks

Monday, June 21, 2010

2010-2011 Budget Message

The Village's fiscal year begins on July 1st. As part of the annual budget I prepare a message which details the operations of the Village, budget projections, and long-term fiscal picture. Below that message for the 2010-2011 Budget.


As required by the Village charter in section 9.03 the annual budget requires narrative messages which outlines the budget, and discuses the overall financial condition of the Village.

As a local unit of government, the primary goal of the Village of Lake Isabella is to provide essential services in the most cost effective manner possible. The Village’s budget and Capital Improvement Plan reflect this goal by taking a multiple year approach to fiscal planning. Over the past five years, the Village of Lake Isabella has adopted several financial policies which reflect this approach to budgeting. The Village has in place a “Fund Balance Policy” which establishes a minimum balance which must be maintained at the end of each fiscal year in the General Fund, Major Streets Fund, and Local Streets Fund. In addition to this policy, the Village also has policies which cover purchasing, credit cards, investing, and capital assets.

This sound approach to managing the public’s funds has allowed the Village of Lake Isabella to remain largely free from the financial problems that other local units of government have faced in recent years.

The above chart shows Operating Millage levies for other local municipalities and other selected communities around the state. As you can see from the chart, the Village of Lake Isabella not only has the lowest levied millage in the region, but also the entire state. This is due to the cap placed in the Village’s charter which limits the general operating tax to 1 Mill.

With all of the fiscal constraints placed on the Village of Lake Isabella, the service package provided is limited. Village residents receive the following services done in part or in whole through the Village government:

Fire/Rescue Service
Bi-weekly curbside recycling
Home Rule Zoning
Code Enforcement
Street Maintenance & Paving
Road Shoulder Mowing
Snow Plowing
Rental Housing Inspections
Animal Control
4th of July Fireworks
Lake Isabella Municipal Airport
Village web-site and blog

Additional services and projects can be provided upon the approval of funding from the residents of the community, or if provided for via special assessment. Examples of this which are not included in the budget would be the construction of a decentralized wastewater system in southern Lake Isabella if so requested by the property owners in that area, and recreation paths which the Village has been seeking grant monies to fund.

The numbers used to comprise the revenue forecast for the Village are based on a prolonged economic downturn for the state. Research has shown that Michigan is presently in a major economic transition, and the decade long depression is not simply a reflection of normal market swings.
The state has failed to invest in an highly educated work force and has established a government structure which addresses long-term funding for state and local budgets. In terms of revenue sharing, the 2010 census should have a positive impact on the Village.

The Village is one of about 30 villages in the state which does not receive statutory revenue sharing funds. Receiving only constitutional revenue sharing dollars does free Lake Isabella from having funds cut or limited by the legislature. The funds received by the Village are solely depending on the actual collection of sales tax by the State of Michigan.

The 2010 Census should also have a positive impact on Act 51 revenue based solely on an increase in population. However, due to the numerous discussions on amending how transportation is funded, the long-term Village budget does not reflect the likely increase from the census.

Based on the current revenue structure of the Village and the State of Michigan, the long-term financial condition of the Village becomes questionable the further the budget is projected. With a 1 Mill tax cap placed in the Village Charter, the Village is crippled in terms of raising funds to ensure long term fiscal stability.

A serious look will need to occur in the next 3 years on amending the tax cap if the Village is to continue to provide a high quality of life. With the Village’s high taxable value, a small increase does account for a significant increase in funds. The adjacent chart shows the difference that the same millage rate (without Headlee roll-back) generates for municipalities in Isabella County.

The chart above clearly shows that to generate the same revenue as other local communities, the Village can raise a significant amount of revenue with a small rate. In terms of dollars, to raise the same funds as the Village of Shepherd presently does with their 13 Mill levy, the Lake Isabella would only need to levy 5.28 Mills.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Meeting Change

There will not be a Planning Commission meeting this month. The public hearing that was scheduled for the meeting regarding the ZBA ordinance will be held at the July 13th meeting.