By Rosemary K. Otzman
After a thank you from Sumpter Township’s accountant to everyone for keeping the belt tightened and a public hearing on the proposed $3,930,512 budget, the township board unanimously approved the balanced budget at its March 26 meeting.
Jim Glahn, CPA, thanked the board members and employees “for making conditions possible in order for us to continue.
“Without an understanding of our changing fiscal environment, we would be like other municipalities, unable to pay our obligations,” Glahn said.
“As more and more communities have Emergency Managers appointed, Sumpter Township has maintained a fiscal discipline necessary to balance its budget.
“Appointment of the Emergency Managers means these communities failed to manage the funds that were available,” Glahn said.
He said the lack of a balanced budget at the federal government level will make local governments like Sumpter suffer.
“It will be another six months before we know the true cost coming from the federal level,” Glahn said.
“All I can say at this point is that we will be affected by this. It’s just determining by how much,” he said.
“Our township will be able to pay all obligations as long as we continue to be vigilant,” Glahn said.
He recalled that the township began the belt tightening close to six years ago and there were those at that time who didn’t believe there would be problems.
He said it was Sumpter Township then who sought out other communities for consolidation of services and now other communities are approaching Sumpter.
“If the board hadn’t taken steps then, we would have problems now,” he said.
He explained that the budget is a financial plan to be used as a road map with projected income and expected costs.
He said the fiscal year runs from April 1, 2013 through March 31, 2014 and, “Sumpter is operating in a fiscally sound manner.”
Glahn said the landfill revenues are the highest revenue to the township and will be $1.4 million this year, up by $170,000 from the prior year.
He reminded them at one point the landfill revenue was over $4 million.
He said the Water Fund continues to receive $400,000 in landfill funds annually to pay bonds.
The tax revenue has dropped from $470,000 to about $390,000 for the coming year.
State revenue has declined because there are 17-18% fewer people in Sumpter, he said.
But, Sumpter Township has been informed it will get $190,000 from the state to reimburse the township for expenses in consolidating its dispatch services with Huron Township.
This consolidation will offer $182,000 in savings every year, Glahn said.
The Fire Fund, which received $400,000 in local tax revenue years ago, now gets $315,000. But, the Fire Fund will get $100,000 as its share of the state dispatch grant, he said.
The Fire Department is getting a new fire truck this year, he said.
Glahn said the township has fully paid off the fire hall bond and the last new fire truck.
Glahn also said the Water Department is operating more efficiently now and the recent rate increase pays associated costs of the Water Department.
Glahn said the township now has three bonds outstanding. It wasn’t long ago, he said, the township had 11 bonds and 10 were for water, with $70,000 for interest on one.
“I am very pleased with the operation of this department,” he said.
“It’s in the best interests of all to maintain our fiscal discipline,” he concluded.
Mary Ban asked during the public hearing if the revenue from Carleton Farms landfill was up and Glahn said the township got $170,000 more this year than last year and he expects the same this coming year.
He said to get the revenue up to $1.4 million this year is good.
Fire Chief Joe Januszyk said the new truck the department is getting carries 3,000 gallons and pumps as much as three trucks. He said the one truck replaces three vehicles.
He referred to the truck that didn’t pass the DOT inspection because of a bad frame and two other trucks out of service.
It was estimated the new truck would cost in the area of $325,000. Glahn said they would make a down-payment and make payments.
Ban asked about whether former Sumpter dispatchers were working at Huron Township now and Malissa Baker said there are no Sumpter dispatchers at Huron now. A few worked there for a short time and then went on to other careers, she said.
Deputy Treasurer Karen Armatis also praised the Water Department for being more efficient. In the past, the overdue amounts were put on property tax bills, but that didn’t work out well because there are so many foreclosures now. She said now the township is making efforts to collect.
“We shut the water off and, believe it or not, it works,” Armatis said, adding if a homeowner turns the water back on, the police will come and ticket them.
She said people who have problems paying their water bills should come in and work out a payment plan.
“We work out payment plans all the time,” Armatis said.
Trustee Peggy Morgan asked if the trailer parks are cooperating better.
“Paying their bills? Yes … we do get the money. Trust me,” Armatis said.
The fund balance is expected to grow from the present figure of $574,591 to $616,4
By Rosemary K. Otzman