Dexter's Municipal Finances Handeling Pandemic Recession Well

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“The City of Dexter has been extremely lucky so far. We have not experienced any municipal finance impacts related to Covid-19 so far, knock on wood,” Dexter Mayor Shawn Keough said.

Local governments in Dexter have fared pretty well in the crash accompanying the pandemic. State revenue sharing – the distribution of tax funds from Lansing, which is the primary source of revenue for local administrations – actually rose in 2020. State documents show that Dexter received $358,258 in FY2020 and will received $18,639 more than that in FY2021.

At the January 11 city council meeting, Rana Emmons of the Livonia-based certified public accounting firm Post, Smythe, Lutz & Ziel LLP, said that the 2019-2020 general fund ended with more than $300,000 more than when it started. The city finished the fiscal year ending June 30 with $3,260,777 in the bank, while its debt fell by over $1 million, according to the auditor’s report.

The “fund balances decreased $375,112” in the last fiscal year, according to the report. $1,865,525 of that is available for the city to be spent on any expense. The other 43 percent of the balance is either restricted, committed or assigned, meaning that that money is either raised for a very specific use – like the water and sewer fund.

According to the audit, Saline’s revenues went from $6,511,705 to $7,217,836 from 2019 to 2020, with expenses going from $5,587,815 to $5,471,686, resulting in a net position going from $923,890 to $1,746,150.

“With a quarter of your fiscal year being in Covid, we really didn’t know what to expect,” Emmons told Dexter City Council last month. When Lansing distributed its revenue sharing to local municipalities, the increase was “a very fortunate surprise to all of us. It wasn’t nearly as dire as the state had originally projected.”

There was over $90,000 more in revenue than projected, Emmons said. And because the 50 percent decrease in state revenue sharing that local communities were afraid of never materialized, investments in things like pedestrian enhancements, a new DPW dump truck could go ahead an $800,000 investment in a headworks project in the sewer fund could go ahead.

Water and sewer revenues have gone up. And although the water and sewer fund still has a loss, at about $321,000, the red ink is lower than the $375,000 or so in the previous year.

The city is making more contributions than it needs to to its $4.5 million pension program than it needs to. The pension has $3.87 million according to PSLZ, which means 86 percent funded, which is more than it was the previous year.

Webster Township’s Supervisor John Kingsley said that the crash has not affected his rural township too badly. The same is true for Dexter Township or Scio Township.

“We have not had a lot of people come to us for [property tax] hardship [accommodations]. We have had three people come to our Board of Review meeting in December. …. Two of them did not mention Covid at all,” Dexter Township Supervisor Diane Ratkovich said.

The state and federal governments both have agencies dedicated to helping small businesses. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the federal Small Business Association are both designed to help small businesses survive with loans and debt-assistance programs. The Michigan District of the SBA can be reached at 313.226.6075.

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