New tasks give GVMC a budget deficit

August 14, 2009
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The Grand Valley Metro Council will likely have to reach into its reserve fund to cover the expected deficit for the upcoming fiscal year’s budget, an action it will likely have to take this year too.

With a little more than a month left in the agency’s current fiscal year, the council’s $2 million general budget is facing a shortfall of $24,470.

The proposed budget for the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, is for $2.1 million, and right now expenses top revenues by $18,001.

The council has a reserve fund that averages $800,000 on a daily basis.

Metro Council Executive Director Don Stypula said three new tasks the organization wants to undertake next year are responsible for the deficit.

The first is hiring a consultant to help develop a cost-sharing formula for GVMC and REGIS, the geographic mapping system the council created years ago for the region. Board members approved that project in July.

“We want to make sure we have a solid cost-sharing formula with REGIS,” said Stypula.

The second is to hire a consultant to develop printed materials, Web-based tools and other components of a new marketing program for the council’s planning services, an effort that is part of the agency’s business plan.

“But we also want to look at how we can market ourselves using some of the newer media, like cell phones,” said Stypula.

The third task is to find someone to help the council identify its current strengths and weaknesses, analyze its communication and interaction patterns, and fine tune its strategic direction.

“It will give us an opportunity to look at what the Metro Council does and look forward at what it should be doing. Maybe some things we do should come off the board,” said Stypula.

Stypula said three or four potential hires have emerged from discussions he has had with others about consultants. He told board members that he wants people who can engage the group from the start.

“The idea this time is to do some more team building at the staff level,” said Michael Young, Rockford city manager.

Board members gave Stypula a vote of confidence recently as both the agency’s personnel and executive committees marked his leadership skills as good. Young said Stypula didn’t request an increase in compensation for the upcoming fiscal year, but he was rewarded for his performance with an additional week of vacation time.

The council’s Finance Committee has approved the 2009-10 fiscal year general budget and the board is set to vote on it early next month.

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