Vote expected Monday on PILOT increase and budget in Niles

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A vote is expected on two big issues at Monday night's city council meeting in Niles.

The budget for the 2014 fiscal year must be approved by September 1st. It goes into effect on October 1st. The state of Michigan continues to make major cuts in funding for its municipalities. For the past 8 years, Niles has seen nearly a million dollar loss in revenue. This year, they will lose another $350,000-$400,000.

To make up for the loss, city administrator, Ric Huff, says they have had to adjust the way they do business. Thanks to tax collecting laws throughout the state, finding ways to pay the bills has been challenging.

"Residents have already started to feel the effect of either delayed or reduced services," said Huff. "It takes us longer to get streets plowed, it takes a little longer for police to answer non-emergency type calls. Fire department, code enforcement, those types of things. We still have adequate staffing to have ready response for all of our emergency situations in all of our departments."

Another issue at the council meeting will determine whether the city will raise PILOT. That is the "payment in lieu of taxes" program the city uses to pay for its utilities. Niles is one of only 23 cities in the state that own their own water, wasterwater and electric divisions.

Since it was put in place, PILOT operates at 7%. A vote on Monday will determine whether that will be raised to 10%, bringing in around $850,000 a year to the city.

The council will meet Monday night at the Niles fire department at 6 p.m.

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