City of Marquette introduces 2023 budget plan

The city says it is able to balance next fiscal year’s budget but still faces uncertainties.
Published: Aug. 25, 2022 at 6:19 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 25, 2022 at 6:20 PM EDT
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Like all of us, the City of Marquette is dealing with increased costs across the board.

This impacts the city’s costs and revenue stream and is one of the reasons it sent higher tax bills to property owners this summer.

The Marquette City Commission met Thursday to discuss the budget for 2023. The city has worked hard to make ends meet for at least two years.

The city faced a possible $6 million deficit last year that ended up closer to $2 million, but City Manager Karen Kovacs says Marquette has successfully balanced the fiscal year 2023 budget. Kovacs added that didn’t always seem possible to accomplish.

“Last year, and even just a few months ago, the financial situation we were in was looking like a budget crisis,” Kovacs said. “We were in a feeling of crisis mode.”

As things stand, the city’s revenues and expenses are equal, each totaling $24,136,670. Kovacs explained the city has dug itself out of this deficit in large part thanks to the new millage increase of 17.5956 mills, which raised property taxes.

“We were able to stabilize revenue, which was an immediate need,” Kovacs explained. “That was possible with the millage increase.”

This leaves expenditures, which Kovacs said are a bit more uncertain.

“We are incredibly lean on our budget as we have been during years past,” Kovacs noted.

Kovacs emphasized that the city is not cutting any services. However, major repairs to sections of roads like Division and Altamont Streets are on hold for next year. She explained that the city has only accounted for necessary maintenance expenses.

“Capital projects are at a minimum,” Kovacs said. “We are just focusing on heavy maintenance instead of complete reconstruction. Things that we typically don’t like to put off, we have to postpone this year while we stabilize the budget.”

Kovacs added that costs like overtime pay to city employees, such as plow drivers, could go up during large winter storms. This could potentially throw off the budget’s balance.

“If we have a major storm, if we have a major catastrophe or even a minor catastrophe, that would increase staff overtime,” Kovacs explained. “That could be a really big risk for us, an area of concern.”

Kovacs noted that the city could see its revenues exceed expenses as time goes on and it pays off debts. Kovacs said debt could start to fall off in 2025, with $500,000 paid off in 2027 and $1 million paid off by 2029. This is assuming all things go as planned.

“We have forecasted a very conservative outlook of a five-year turnaround,” Kovacs explained. “At this point, there is hope for the future with a five-year turnaround and we are hoping to really shorten that time frame with some of the developments we would like to pursue.”

The city plans to do a budget presentation at its Sept. 12 commission meeting.

The city also plans to hold a public hearing for its 2023 budget on Sept. 26. It looks to finalize and approve the budget on the same day.

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