Audit Reveals Sterling Heights added $ 3 million to fund balance – Macomb Daily

The city of Sterling Heights was able to operate during the Sept.

The independent auditors Plante Moran gave the city an “unmodified” report as part of their audit process – the highest possible rating. In addition, the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) recognized Sterling Heights for the 33rd consecutive year for excellence in financial reporting and budgeting.

Jennifer Varney, city director of finance and budget, said the city’s long-term financial planning had enabled Sterling Heights to weather the financial uncertainty caused by the pandemic and invest in the community through larger and neighborhood improvements, recreational facilities and modernization facilities; and employees by continuing to offer competitive wages and funding long-term retirement obligations.

“This has all been achieved while maintaining a city tax rate that remains one of the lowest of any Macomb County city and an excellent AA credit rating from Standard & Poor,” Varney said in a statement. “Careful budgeting, with a commitment to funding the highest priorities and maintaining a strong balance sheet, will ensure the city’s financial stability in the future.”

The general fund contributed $ 3 million to the fund’s balance for the current year in total
general fund reserves at $ 29.9 million or 28% of expenses.

By comparison, Sterling Heights was still in the middle of the Great Recession 10 years ago. The city council was forced to withdraw $ 2.7 million from its fund balance to pay for programs and services as revenues declined 4% in Macomb County’s second most populous community.

Sterling Heights City Manager Mark Vanderpool (PHOTO – CITY OF STERLING HEIGHTS)

Three years later, in 2014, Sterling Heights hit a low of $ 5.2 million for its fund balance – the so-called “rainy day account”. Since that time, Macomb County’s second most populous parish has worked to bolster the account.

Due to loss of income in the past, the city has had to cut numerous jobs in the last 10 years, as almost 70% of the city budget consists of personnel costs. Sterling Heights now has 486 full-time employees, 163 jobs since the 2022 peak.

The city continues to use part-time workers whenever possible. Over the years there have been downsizing, especially in the town hall and in public works, but no further downsizing is planned in the near future.

General Fund revenues decreased $ 1.9 million, or 1.7%, primarily due to lower property tax income due to the reversal of the one-time increase of 1 million in the prior year; a nearly $ 1 million reduction in fines and recoveries due to the closure of District Court 41-A operations in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic; and lower interest income and cable television income.

These cuts were driven by a $ 1.4 million increase in police and fire department tax revenue due to an increase in the required contribution, higher grant income from the Eligible Firemen Grant (SAFER), and a 3% increase in government revenue. balanced .

Fund general expenses decreased $ 2.8 million, or 2.6%, year over year, primarily due to significant increases
Investments in federal and local roads in the previous year, which were due to wage increases for full-time employment, health insurance,
Street lighting, transfers to parks, and recreational and debt service, and costs related to the COVID-19 crisis.

City Manager Mark Vanderpool said the finance team remains “laser focused” on budget issues.

“I commend our entire finance team for their diligent work throughout the year that resulted in positive audit results,” Vanderpool said in a statement. “You continue to do an excellent job and are among the best in the industry.”

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