Flint, MI– The Flint City Council did not adopt a city budget for the upcoming fiscal years before the deadline on June 7, but not for lack of trying. 

Over the course of a nine-hour special meeting, the council discussed waste collection services, adopted millages, and discussed and voted on several budget amendments. But when it came time to adopt the budget, already after midnight, they could not reach a compromise.

Votes to recess the meeting, reconsider amendments, accept American Rescue Plan funds, and approve the budget as is, all failed with votes of 4 to 4, after Councilman Santino Guerra was no longer on the call. 

The charter requires a budget to be adopted by the first Monday in June, but since that did not happen, Council President Kate Fields called for a special meeting to adopt the budget on June 9, at 4:30 p.m., before the regular scheduled council committee meeting.

Here is what the council did and didn’t do: 

Voted to renew the 2021 operating millage for City of Flint Real and Personal Property 

The council unanimously voted to adopt the 2021 operating millage of 19.10 mills on every dollar of all taxable property. 

Here is a breakdown of where the mills will go:

  • 7.50 mills for General City Operating Purposes
  • 2.50 mills for retirement of debt, improvements, and other improvements
  • 2.00 mills for Police Services
  • 0.50 mills for improvements and maintenance of City parks, forestry, and recreation purposes
  • 0.60 mills for public transportation services by the Mass Transportation Authority
  • 6.0 mills for Police and Fire services

Voted to renew 2021 operating millage rate for Downtown Development Authority

The council voted 6 to 3 to approve an operating millage rate of 1.8806 mills for the Downtown Development Authority’s operating budget for Fiscal Year 2021-2022. 

Voted to adopt a 78 cent increase for street lighting assessments 

The council voted 7 to 2 to adopt an increase of 78 cents for the street lighting assessment costs for the 2022 fiscal year. The cost per parcel for the July 2021 tax bill will be set at $101.00, and the funds will be used to provide for operational costs of the current system and enable upgrades and improvements to street lighting in the city. 

Last year, the fee was $100.22, which was a decrease of $9.45 from the year before that.

Voted not to increase user fees for waste collection costs

The council was asked to vote on a resolution that would raise the waste collection user fee for residents from $167.47, to $250.8 per household. That would be an increase of $83.37.

The administration explained that the increase was due to increasing costs, but many council members expressed concerns with an increase that high, especially in light of many complaints related to delays in waste collection services. 

Chief Financial Officer Shelbi Frayer said the budget, which was planned to be adopted by the end of the meeting, would not be balanced if this was not approved, or postponed to a committee meeting.

Councilman Santino Guerra proposed amending the resolution to keep the user fees at $167.47, with the possibility of making amendments at a later date. The council unanimously voted to keep user fees at the same amount as last year. 

Voted not to accept American Rescue Plan funds—yet

Councilman Eric Mays worked with city staff to draft multiple add-on resolutions, one of which was to accept the first half of the American Rescue Plan funds, a total of $47,363,332, and establish revenue and expenditure accounts to make the fund dollars immediately available.

The City received the first half of the funds on May 19. Frayer told the council at previous meetings that the finance department prepared a resolution for council to accept the funds but that it needed to be signed before it could come to council. At the meeting on June 7, the resolution was not ready.

Councilman Mays took it upon himself to draft a resolution to accept the funds.

“That resolution has been held up. It only takes five minutes or less to sign a resolution,” Mays said. 

City Attorney Angela Wheeler said she wasn’t sure if it was appropriate for council to draft the resolution. Although some council members said they believed it was, others said they would like to see the resolution come from the legal department on June 9, to make sure it was all done correctly.

With a vote of 4 to 4, the resolution failed.

Voted not to adopt a series of budget amendments

The council was divided on a series of proposed budget amendments, which all failed or were tabled. Here is what they are: 

  • Move $60,000 from General Fund Balance to the City Clerk’s Office
    •  City Clerk Inez Brown said during the meeting that she needed the funds to publish ordinances, and hire someone to redraw Flint city boundaries for the U.S. Census. 
    • The amendment failed with a 4-5 vote.
  • Move $50,000 from General Fund Balance to the Ethics and Accountability Board
    • The amendment failed with a 4-5 vote.
  • Move $200,000 from general fund balance to the Office of the Ombudsperson
    • The amendment failed with a 4-5 vote.
  • Move $90,000 from general fund balance to separate accounts for each of the city’s nine wards.
    • This amendment would have created nine accounts, one for each ward, which each councilperson could use to address issues within their wards without council approval. The idea had been discussed in previous council meetings as a solution to dealing with residents’ issues in a timely fashion. 
    • The amendment failed with a 4-5 vote.
  • Move $40,000 from general fund balance to provide funds for Hasselbring and Brennan Senior Centers
    • This amendment would have given $20,000 to each center
    • The amendment failed with a 4-5 vote.
  • Move $120,000,000 from MERS legacy costs, back to general fund
    • Voted 8 to 1 to table this indefinitely

There were also several add-on resolutions, most of which were proposals for how to use the incoming $94.7 million in American Rescue Plan federal funds, that the council voted to table indefinitely. Here is what they are: 

  • Include additional funding for the Department of Planning and Development in order to hire a staff person to handle the City’s marijuana concerns
  • Include an additional $3.15 million to address blight in the city, in light of incoming American Rescue Plan federal funds
  • Include an additional $4.2 million to address public safety and crime prevention in the city in light of the incoming American Rescue Plan federal funds
  • Include additional funding for premium pay for essential workers in the amount of $5,000 per employee, with up to 528 employees
  • Include additional $2 million to fund a City of Flint home rehab training program and youth partnership with American Rescue Plan funds
  • Include an additional $400,000 for the M.A.D.E. Institute, an organization helping formerly incarcerated individuals, using American Rescue Plan funds
  • Include an additional $300,000 in funding for the North Flint Reinvestment Corporation for a grocery store in Flint’s north side, using American Rescue Plan funds
  • Include an additional $500,000 for the Genesee County I.G.N.I.T.E. program, an educational program for inmates at the county jail, using American Rescue Plan funds
  • Include an additional $60,000 to be divided evenly among three Flint vaccination sites, using American Rescue Plan funds
  • Include an additional $12 million to create a bottled water factory in Flint, using American Rescue Plan funds

Amy Diaz is a journalist hailing from St. Petersburg, FL. She has written for multiple local newspapers in her hometown before becoming a full-time reporter for Flint Beat. When she’s not writing you...