Strategic objectives, essential services drive FY2024 proposed budget
Published on April 25, 2023
Infrastructure, facilities and safety improvements to help spur continued inclusive and sustainable economic recovery
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – City Manager Mark Washington this morning delivered the first of several planned presentations to the City Commission on his fiscal year 2024 proposed budget. The proposed $643 million spending plan – including $179 million in the General Fund – accomplishes multiple strategic objectives with a balanced approach to investment in order to maintain fiscal sustainability. The fiscal plan proposes no changes in the property tax millages that fund City Operations, the Library, and Parks, but does include an overall millage rate increase of 0.1994 mills (2.3%) over FY2023. This increase is attributed to a proposed increase in the millage dedicated to refuse, recycling and other clean community initiatives which will cost the average homeowner $5.33 more per month.
This budget proposes:
- Continuation of all basic services – along with prioritized service enhancements that include expansion of the sidewalk snowplow pilot, communications and engagement, development plan review and permitting, special events and grants management.
- Continuation of residential refuse and recycling services – along with an enhanced “Clean Community” program that includes expanded cleaning of downtown and neighborhood business corridors and an added community clean-up day in each neighborhood.
- Ongoing investments in existing capital assets like utilities, roads and buildings – along with transformational capital investments through the $1 million Third Ward Equity Fund and related to the river restoration and redevelopment of the 201 Market property, including the relocation of City services from 201 Market to allow for development of the planned amphitheater in this key location. Other facilities funded for improvements include the Martin Luther King Park Lodge, Roosevelt Park Lodge, and trail connections within the Third Ward to the Grand River Greenway.
- Sustained funding for core public safety services including policing and fire suppression – along with preventive approaches including mental health co-response, the homeless outreach efforts, fire prevention initiatives like the Residential Safety Program (smoke and carbon monoxide detector checks and installs), and recognition that future deposits into the Affordable Housing Fund will contribute to safety by meeting the basic need for shelter.
- Competitive wages and benefits to sustain a capable City workforce – along with initiatives to “grow our own” next generation of diverse and talented City employees including innovative programs in the Public Services, Water, Environmental Services, Fire, Police and other departments.
- Continuation of sustainability practices – along with improvements including the Grand River Greenway (to include trail expansions in the Third Ward), enhancement of tree planting and trimming services, purchase of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) to meet the City’s commitment to achieve 100% of municipal energy consumption from renewables by June 30, 2025, and infrastructure improvements to pave the way for a future solar installation at Butterworth Landfill that will support the City’s commitment to local renewable electricity generation.
- Continued focus on reducing barriers and enhancing equitable outcomes across our portfolio of services – along with increased investments in training for employees around language access, increasing commitments to use Micro-Local Business Enterprise (MLBE) contractors, and significant capital investments in parks and trails in the Third Ward, including Martin Luther King Park Lodge, Roosevelt Park Lodge, and trail connections within the Third Ward to the Grand River Greenway.
“The FY2024 fiscal plan continues investments aligned with our values and balances the many challenging and polarizing issues by being both be safe and compassionate, prosperous and equitable, growing and sustainable, practical and transformational,” Washington said. “Grand Rapids must continue to be all of these to achieve our vision to be ‘nationally recognized as an equitable, welcoming, innovative and collaborative city with a robust economy, safe and healthy community, and the opportunity for a high quality of life for all.’”
Washington said that development of the FY2024 budget was guided by the City’s six over-arching strategic priorities that serve as a guide for all City decision-making, including the budget. Those priorities include Governmental Excellence, Economic Prosperity and Affordability, Engaged and Connected Community, Health and Environment, Mobility, and Safe Community.
The FY2024 proposed budget includes approximately $49 million toward equity efforts, with a variety of funding sources ranging from General Operating funds to over $36 million in grants. Additional highlights of the budgeted investments under each strategic priority include:
Economic Prosperity and Affordability – appropriations of $14.5 million and an additional $46.5 million for Corridor and Special Authorities
These investments ensure residents, employees and businesses have pathways to financial growth and security. Investments will be made to increase affordable housing options, prevent and reduce homelessness, continue the Homeless Outreach Team, invest in two positions and support for special events, provide $6 million in funds to support the Grand River Greenway and $100,000 to support the New Community Transformation Fund. In total, more than $9 million will be dedicated to affordable housing, street outreach, homelessness prevention, rapid rehousing, eviction prevention, winter sheltering, existing housing improvement, access to housing resources, and providing fair housing/legal services. What’s more, an additional $1.5 million of funding will used for affordable housing initiatives. In addition, a portion of proceeds from sale of the property at 201 Market Ave., expected to be $10 million, will be deposited into the Affordable Housing Fund. After those actions, the total anticipated funds dedicated to housing since inception of the Fund will exceed $17.5 million.
Health and Environment – appropriations of $201 million
These investments ensure the health of all people and the environment are advocated for, protected and enhanced, including $18.95 million in Park and Park Amenities improvements related to Martin Luther King Lodge, Roosevelt Lodge, Plaza Roosevelt, Sullivan Field, Richmond Park, Highland Park, Ottawa Hills Park, Otsego Drain Basin conversion, Canal Street Park, Camelot Park and Roberto Clemente Park; $16 million to remediate PFAS contamination at the Ash Lagoon; $10.40 million in lead service line replacements and $1.8 million for the Lead Hazard Control Program. The City will continue to invest in a co-response partnership with Network180 to integrate social worker expertise in both the Police Mobile Crisis Response team as well as the Homeless Outreach Team.
The City will continue to align its work across multiple departments in addressing its environmental and sustainability goals, acknowledging that how it operates has a direct impact on meeting the challenges of a changing climate. In total, the FY2024 budget includes nearly $27 million that addresses greenhouse gas/carbon mitigation and climate adaptation. Significant investments include $4.25 million for tree removal and maintenance, $3 million to update infrastructure to support installation of solar at the Butterworth Landfill, $551,250 to purchase low to no emissions fleet vehicles, continued support for stormwater management and green infrastructure, and materials management (refuse, recycling, composting) programs that staff an additional material collection day per Ward as part of the “Clean Community” initiative. There is also $625,000 dedicated to the work of implementing the Equitable, Healthy and Zero Carbon Buildings Initiative (E.H.Zero), creating a Climate Action and Adaptation Plan and purchasing additional renewable energy credits to accelerate the City’s performance on renewable energy and carbon reduction goals.
Mobility – appropriations of $100.3 million
These investments ensure that innovative, efficient, low-carbon and equitable mobility solutions are safe, affordable and convenient to the community including $27.6 million in Vital Streets projects, which supports 81 projects for 32 miles of streets and $100,000 in e-bike and e-scooter contracts. Mobile GR will be investing $3.2 million toward DASH expanded hours and service area, $740,000 to purchase a new compressed natural gas DASH trolley bus, over $1 million in Neighborhood Greenways that will improve biking with traffic calming, signage and pavement marking measures, $500,000 for an electric vehicle carshare program in the MLK Park and Burton Heights neighborhoods and $400,000 for transit stop improvements. The City will also expand the sidewalk snow assist pilot by 50 miles for a total of 200 miles and invest $2.5 million in various sidewalk projects.
Safe Community – appropriations of $139.7 million
These investments ensure that all people feel safe and are safe at all times throughout the community. The City will invest $3 million to purchase land for a future Fire Training Center; $1.3 million for two GVSU Police Academy recruit classes and third-party recruiting services to improve police staffing and responsiveness. The City will continue to invest $696,768 to support the Fire and Police Department’s participation in the Homeless Outreach Team. Over $1.6 million in crime prevention efforts will be invested through programs such as Cure Violence, SAFE Task Force for community solutions, neighborhood crime prevention programs, continuations of community informed police officer training, a Traffic Stop study, Know Your Rights Campaign, I AM THE DREAM youth academy, DICE – Data Informed Community Engagement, and the Residential Safety Assessment Fire Prevention Program, among many others. Furthermore, the City continues to support Emergency Management and is leveraging grant dollars to retain a new staff member to increase community engagement activities for emergency response.
Engaged and Connected Community – $20.6 million in investment city-wide
Focus will be given to Citywide engagement guidance and strategies, development and tracking of performance metrics and training for City departments A new engagement framework will include reimagining and streamlining how the City partners with community and neighborhood-based organizations; leverage existing activities like Commission Night Out, Neighborhood Match Fund and Neighborhood Summit. It will also embed applicable recommendations from the Welcome Plan for immigrant and refugees. Other critical investments include the Develop with Us and Wi-Fi in public parks programs.
Governmental Excellence – appropriations of $167.1 million
This category includes support for City employees including funding the second year of the negotiated labor contracts, additional funding for an employee wellness application, organizational development, and further support for human resources recruiting, hiring and retention which includes a partnership with GVSU and MSU for an executive internship program. We will be continuing the Grow1000 youth employment initiative and the Fire Cadet Program and Candidate Physical Agility Test. New investments this year include a staff position to support grant management and leveraging ARPA grant dollars specifically the PFAs remediation at the Ash Lagoon and support for the implementation of city-wide enterprise software implementation.
“This $643 million Preliminary Fiscal Plan will help to move our city forward and address many important issues related to safety, health, environment, mobility, economic prosperity, housing and community engagement,” Washington said. “I am grateful for the many city employees who dedicate their careers to the service of others and continually go above customer expectations. The fiscal plan alone does not accomplish anything without dedicated employees who stand ready to operationally execute services, plans, policies and strategy.
“While this proposed budget accomplishes much, I recognize there always will be more work to be done. I am equally grateful for the residents, community leaders, businesses and partners who walk along side of us and collaborate in this important work,” he said.
Although the introduction of the proposed budget starts the formal consideration and adoption process, many opportunities for resident and stakeholder input on funding priorities have already been held. They included:
- Three City Commission Night Out meetings – one in each ward – in 2022 and similar opportunities (one held so far) this year.
- Two Community Health and Safety Engagement sessions in March, with facilitation by the National Civic League.
- More than 2,000 participants in online feedback/engagement regarding Parks and Recreation projects.
- Input from more than 360 volunteer appointees serving on 55 boards, commissions, and committees – some of which have key roles in recommending funding priorities within their respective areas of responsibility.
The FY2024 Proposed Budget review schedule is as follows:
Tuesday, April 25 Introduction of the FY2024 Preliminary Fiscal Plan and Budget Review Workshop, Committee of the Whole (COW) 10 a.m.
Tuesday, May 2 Budget Review Workshop, 9 a.m.
Tuesday, May 9 City Commission Committee of the Whole, 10 a.m.
Tuesday, May 16 City Commission Meeting (Budget Public Hearing 7 p.m.)
Tuesday, May 23 Budget Discussion and Deliberation (COW 10 a.m.)
Tuesday, May 23 City Commission Adoption (7 p.m.)
The public is invited to participate by watching and sharing their thoughts on the City’s proposed spending plan. All workshops, meetings and the public hearing will air on Comcast Channel 26 and be live streamed on the City of Grand Rapids Facebook page and YouTube channel. They also will be streamed live in Spanish HERE. Those wanting to comment on the FY2024 Proposed Budget in-person are invited to attend the 7 p.m. May 16 public hearing or scheduled budget review workshops. Written comments can be submitted to the firstname.lastname@example.org.
The FY2024 Proposed Budget document (PDF) and the PowerPoint presented this morning to the City Commission can be found at grandrapidsmi.gov/budget-library.