Grand Rapids City Commission approves 2019 budget

Photo courtesy: City of Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Grand Rapids City Commission has killed two birds with one fiscal stone.

The panel on Tuesday night adopted the city’s 2019 Fiscal Year Budget – a $590 million spending plan – and, as part of that adoption, approved Stage IV of the city’s Transformation Plan.  The fiscal year begins July 1.

The budget covers various capital appropriations, as well as the operating budget and debt service. In a news release, the city says the spending plan will reduce its property tax-millage rate from 9.0258 mills to 8.9710 mills. It also covers economic development, legacy costs, community & police relations and affordable housing. Says the city of the new budget:

“It also prioritizes several capital projects: Vital Streets, fire stations, parks, pools and playgrounds, Grand River restoration, tree maintenance and transit shelters, among others.”

The city expects to stay well above financial water over the next couple of fiscal years, projecting “positive General Operating Fund results”. However, the  plan projects growing net operating losses in that fund over the next three years of the Transformation Plan. But city officials figure that meeting the goals of the plan will more than offset those costs. The city lists other budget highlights of the proposed fiscal plan thusly:

  • Making an initial investment of an estimated $590,000 in the Affordable Housing Fund and increasing the City’s commitment to supporting the creation of additional affordable housing units
  • Continuing the $1 million appropriation for outcomes that strengthen community and police relations through FY2023
  • Investing $4.2 million to renovate, repair or reconstruct eight City-owned parks and invest in the redevelopment of MLK Lodge
  • Investing each year over the five-year period in complementary streetscape features in conjunction with Vital Streets projects in the Southtown, South Division and Grandville corridors
  • Being intentional in reducing disparities by operationalizing racial equity goals across all departments and investing $50,000 to support a comprehensive strategic planning process by the Economic Development Department that focuses on reducing disparities
  • Expanding the customer advocate function approved in the FY2018 budget to increase opportunities for early intervention in code compliance cases and achieve positive and equitable outcomes with fewer complaint-based mechanisms
  • Effectively managing legacy costs
  • Investing $17.5 million to Vital Streets asset management and debt retirement
  • Investing $6.35 million over five years for the Grand River restoration project development and implementation
  • Investing $400,000 to address the backlog of priority two trees within seven years and begin implementation of a proactive tree maintenance management plan
  • Investing $250,000 to continue to improve bus shelter locations throughout the city
  • Increasing the Experience Grand Rapids investment for promotional services by $100,000 per year
  • Investing $100,000 per year for FY2019 and FY2020 for Southtown Corridor Improvement District (CID) operational support
  • Investing $100,000 in FY2019 for Southtown CID capital investments
  • Reserving a Transformation Fund balance of $750,000 for a flexible Third Ward equitable investment initiative in FY2019

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