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IR city manager plans to rewrite ’16 budget

IRON RIVER—Iron River’s new city manager David Thayer told those attending the council’s regular monthly meeting Nov. 11 that it’s been an interesting transition for him as he acclimates himself to the position and the ongoing issues in the city.
    In his report to the council, Thayer then said he will likely spend a significant portion of his time in the coming weeks on one key area – the fiscal year 2016 budget.
    “It’s a very unusual step to take,” he said, “but there have been some clerical errors, there have been some entry errors, there have been some calculations without justification, and I think it will throw our budget so far off when we get to closure that we wouldn’t be able to make heads or tails of it.
    “So we’re going to go through the exercise, and I think the end product will be a reproduction of your budget, which I hope to have available in January for adoption.”
    Thayer said he initially thought he’d be able to make some amendments to the budget as it was originally formulated, but as he advanced in the study, that probably wouldn’t be the case.
    The 2015-16 fiscal year budget as of October reported budgeted revenues of $4,051,394 and budgeted expenses of $3,618,915 from the general, major street, local street, DDA, TIF, RV park, water and sewer funds.
    Mayor Terry Tarsi called attention to those figures and asked Thayer to clarify what he meant by his statements for fear of misunderstanding by the public.
    “Our fiscal year budget (revenues) is $4 million, correct?” Tarsi asked.
    “I can’t answer that,” Thayer responded.
    “But our expenditures are $3.6 (million) on our numbers. I can just see somebody running outside saying, ‘The city’s broke,’” Tarsi said.
    “No, you’re not broke,” Thayer answered. “We’re not going broke. The budget the council adopted and the financial that was entered into the computer are different numbers. The two have to be reconciled. But the changes are so dramatic that it would be better and more efficient and probably more correct to start from the beginning and work my way out.”
    Councilman Rick Commenator asked Thayer if the changes he is going to make are primarily clerical adjustments.
    “That’s one big step,” Thayer said. “But also the justification for the numbers that were produced. And so what we’re going to do is take the budget and start out justifying from zero and adding it up until we get to the line item, and then we’ll have reconciliation. And I’m sure there’ll be discrepancies between the line items, but on the sum totals of fund count, it should be close.”
    Later in public comment, Thayer was asked if he sees any significant impact coming from the rewrite.
    “I can’t give you an estimate,” Thayer replied. “Normally when you put together a budget. you have a paper trail of where your assumptions are, and from there you go forward. We weren’t blessed to have that, so that’s why I’m having to go back to zero and basically start the process over.”
    In his report, Thayer also
 discussed the issue of blight in the city. He said he’s received a number of phone calls since he began about the issue and that he and police chief Laura Frizzo have had conversations about aggressively pursuing action, especially against repeat offenders.
    He also said he was investigating ways to make it easier for residents to dispose of large items, such as kitchen appliances.
    “That might help move some of the large items that seem to be going from the kitchen to the front porch or the backyard,” Thayer said.
    Later in his report, city attorney Mark Tousignant said the city had attempted to deliver a summons and complaint to the registered agent of MAPCO, which owns the former Wardo building on Genesee Street. Tousignant said the agent has refused to accept previous certified mails, and the city has hired a process server in the Traverse City area, where MAPCO is located.

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