The City of Walled Lake’s Council approved submitting an application for the Michigan Pension Grant currently available to municipalities at its May 16 meeting.
If the city gets the amount it requested, it would, according to Assistant City Manager/Finance Director Chelsea Pesta, “get our pension liability up to 60% funded if granted.” Right now, the city pensions are funded at “only 34%”
Pesta added in a May 18 email that the application must be submitted by June
15; the city will learn whether it was awarded the grant at the end of July. “We are asking for $4 million dollars to get the city’s pension debt up to 60% funded,” she stated. “The City of Walled Lake has been treading water with this unfunded liability all the while being fiscally responsible not adding any new debt to the taxpayers.”
City Manager Dennis Whitt explained to council before the meeting vote that if the funds requested are granted, it would put the city “back in the black, if you will. The biggest debt you’ve got is the unfunded liability. Now that the money’s available, we believe we can get it. It will put the city in good financial position.”
Mayor Pro Tem Bennett Lublin inquired if the source of the grant money was COVID funding. Pesta said it was indeed COVID funding.
The vote to approve making the application was granted unanimously, 6-0. (Councilmember Tamra Loch was absent.)
Pesta wrote, “The State appropriated $750 million to assist those municipalities with an underfunded pension system. The State made the movement to assist unfunded entities and the City is going to take advantage of this opportunity.”
She concluded, “This will help put the City in a solid financial position for the future.”