by CYNTHIA KMETT
Ever wonder where the City of Troy gets its money? And, where does it spend it? You can learn all about city finances in the annual city budget. But that will require you to read almost 400 pages of data. There you can learn everything from how many people visited the library last year (455,000) to Troy’s largest taxpayers (Somerset Collection followed by DTE with all those poles and wires). You can see what road projects are planned and costs of police and fire protection.
That financial instrument has to be audited each year to see that Troy’s funds are being properly tracked and spent. That job is done for the city by Rehmann, which has its national headquarters on Big Beaver in Troy. Reporting on the audit to council at its last meeting was Nate Balderman, principal of Government Assurance Service for Rehmann. He had very good news for council, issuing a “clear opinion” report on the city’s books. That means Troy’s accounting practices are living up to national standards and nothing is amiss in the city’s record keeping.
But, that was probably no surprise to council, as there are other groups keeping an eye on city records across America and Canada, the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA). Troy’s Financial Services Director Thomas Darling took time to tell council that the city has once again been an award winning municipality for its finances.
Troy has again been recognized by GFOA for its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, which is the city’s policy plan, financial plan and operating guide. Troy received this award for the 17th consecutive year. It was recognized for the summarized Popular Annual Financial Report for the 18th year. This report is judged for its creativity, understandability and reader appeal.
The city also once again received the Certificate of Achievement in Finance Award, which is being judged for full disclosure and transparency from the city, Darling explained. Troy has picked up this honor for 20 consecutive years. Only five entities received all three awards for last year’s bookkeeping practices, two counties, one community college and two cities, of which Troy was one. There are 1856 local communities in the state that could receive these awards. Darling said he likes to call this “the triple crown of financial awards.”
Darling said Troy likes to go the extra mile, “because we believe in doing government best. It’s these kind of efforts that demonstrate our commitment to fiscal stewardship, transparency in long-term financial planning.” He added that it is also important in maintaining our city’s AAA bond rating.
Councilwoman Ellen Hodorek added that she likes to call it the “trifecta” of financial awards.
Darling stressed that the city is very good at reinvesting in our community, especially our infrastructure and roads. And, after the down recession years of 2008-2010, things are looking up.
While Darling went through a lot of facts and figures for council, if you want to see how much money the city has and where it spends it, you might want to look at the much smaller and easier to understand Popular Annual Financial Report. You can find this document on the city’s website, troymi.gov, under the finance department.
Here you’ll learn about the community and its 83,181 residents and 170,396 members of the workday population, per the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG). There are 6,146 businesses in Troy’s 34.3 square miles and the taxable value of the city is $4.5 billion. You can easily see Troy’s millage rate of 10.4974 mills. With a $55 million operating budget you may think property taxes are paying for all your services. Not true, only about $30.5 million comes from property taxes. You will learn that licenses and permits, intergovernmental services, charges for services, fines and forfeitures, even rents contribute to the general fund of the city.
Actually, the city only gets 28 percent of your tax dollar. Local schools get 52 percent and 20 percent goes to the county, community college, SMART, art and the zoo.
To see how the city spends its money, just open the report and enjoy. A clue: it’s primarily on police and fire protection.