This article is republished from Press & Guide, originally written by Briana Gaskorski and can be found here.
In its sixth workshop centered on building out the FY 2021 budget, the Dearborn City Council held another virtual meeting on Monday.
This time, the council reviewed the court and recreation portions of the proposed budget.
The court portion was proposed to include a 22% contribution from the general fund.
“The budget would be covered by 77% intergovernmental at $278,178,” Carole Rochon of the city’s Finance Department said. “Twenty-two percent of the budget would be funded by the general fund and 1% would come from other revenue.”
Two new grants that were received in FY 2020 also resulted in the addition of full-time employees.
“The Hybrid Drug/Sobriety Court received two new grants,” Rochon said. “The Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) in the amount of $25,500 and the Michigan Drug Court Program (MDCGP) in the amount of $25,000 which were accepted in mid-2020 created positions that didn’t exist or need to be funded for in years prior.”
A third grant also was awarded to the city for the Veterans Treatment Court.
“Both the Veterans Treatment Court grant and the Drug/Sobriety Court grant are really beneficial to the city and becoming popular throughout multiple municipalities;” Councilman Mike Sareini said. “Both of these courts allows more discretion in terms of fines and such for certain offenses. For example, in the drug court, they could offer some type of rehabilitation or something for repeat offenders and in veterans court, they could offer other services for their mental health if that’s determined to be a concern.”
The proposed budget also included a $14,000 increase due to a vehicle purchase which would replace a vehicle purchased in 2012, as well as a $176,000 decrease due to $149,000 component reduction for facility lease and $27,000 accounting change to move to transfers out.
The court also reported a 56% increase in civil filings in 2019 and a 30% decrease in misdemeanor filings in 2019.
Director of Parks and Recreation Greg Orner said that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on its budget.
“With the state parks not being able to open until at least the end of this month, that cuts down our season by a lot,” he said. “I don’t know how we would hire enough people back to open up Camp Dearborn and other parks for such a short season if there is a season at all. The coronavirus has had and is going to continue to have a big impact on our budget.”
Orner also said that right now, it’s a matter of deciding which projects to budget for and which ones to postpone.
“We have to meet the state’s requirement for certain aspects at Camp Dearborn with how many water and electric spaces per number of trailers,” he said. “But we’ve already budgeted for a new bath house to attract more people to the beaches. So we are trying to decide if we will postpone the bath house and work on these other things first.”
Sareini said the impact of COVID-19 isn’t just on parks and recreation.
“Out of every dollar spent by parks and rec, they’re able to recover around 70 cents on the dollar,” Sareini said. “But because we are closed and we don’t know when things can reopen, we have no revenue coming in. I think everyone has done an excellent job presenting and preparing for each of these sessions, but I’m concerned about taking COVID-19 into consideration with this budget and spending more than we are taking in. We have to be careful.”