By Rosemary K. Otzman
Dave Helisek, a partner in Plante Moran public accounting and business advisory firm, and Marie Stiegel presented the end-of-year audit to the Van Buren Township Board of Trustees at its regular meeting on June 17.
The VBT fiscal year ended Dec. 31, 2013.
Helisek said they gave VBT an “unmodified opinion” which is the highest they can give.
Helisek went over the changes in reporting under the new GASBE (Government Accounting Standards Board) 65. Then he turned the audit report over to Stiegel who explained a series of graphs.
She reported that the total budget in 2011 was $12,813,000, with $3,344,000 of that coming from landfill tipping fees. In 2012 the total budget was $12,400,000, with $3,011,000 of that coming from the landfill. In 2013, the total budget was $12,283,000, with $2,860,000 of that coming from the landfill.
She said the revenue in 2013 decreased a little from in 2012.
Stiegel pointed out that in expenditures, Public Safety was 66% of the budget: $7,752,000 in 2013 and $7,959,000 in 2012.
The fund balance for the general fund is 34% of expenditures, about four months worth of spending, she said. In 2013 it was $4,607,000; in 2012, $4,009,000; and in 2011, $3,534,000.
Helisek spoke of the management letters, including one on two material weaknesses, both of which were repeating weaknesses from other years.
He questioned the equity investments in aerotropolis.
“Every year the treasurer and clerk get stronger and stronger,” Helisek said.
He said there was a problem with deposits for engineering fees. He said the township would collect those fees and they were kept in a subsidiary ledger to show which specific entities made those payments. The balance in the general ledger is not balancing with the subsidiary ledger.
“I think you know what to do,” Helisek said, noting the ledgers will be brought up to date.
Helisek also explained some legislative items, noting that the previous week the EVIP state program went away but transparency and accountability are still expected on the website.
He also said the personal property tax issue will be on the August Ballot. If it passes, the personal property tax will be phased out and it will be reimbursed to local units. He said it will be 100% except for townships in the first two years.
“If it doesn’t pass, back to business as usual,” Helisek said.
He said the DDA and LDFA have debt tied to personal property taxes.
In other business at the June 17 meeting, the board:
• Approved the second reading and adoption of an ordinance amendment on Fireworks, staying in compliance with the 2012 Michigan Fireworks Safety Act;
• Approved the first reading of an ordinance amendment that would rezone 57.52 acres of land west of Belleville Road and north of the railroad viaduct on the Canton Township border from M-1 (Light Industrial) to M-2 (General Industrial) for Costco’s truck depot. The second reading and adoption is expected at the next meeting on July 1;
• Reminded everyone the township’s fireworks display is scheduled for dusk on June 28, with a rain date of June 29, at Beck Ball Diamonds;
• Announced a week’s worth of work on the parking lot surface around the senior center and recreation center begins on June 23. The center doors will be open and people are advised to park in the parking lots near the township hall main entrance and the police station;
• Heard Alton Bergeson, a resident of Alden Road, complain about the dirt road’s dust that surrounds the school bus when his grandchild gets off, which is a public safety issue. It was explained how the township pays to put calcium chloride on the 25 county roads (not private roads) that are dirt once a year and the county also does it once or more. The township waits until the county is done grading, so the calcium chloride doesn’t get disturbed;
• Discussed the activity at Judge Zaborowski’s former home on Alden Road, where sewer and water lines have been put back to a garage along with a washer, dryer, refrigerator, stove, and load of drywall. Someone seems to be living in the garage. Also at that address residents are stripping a car in the front yard and the property is starting to look like a junkyard, according to the neighbors. Police Lt. Charles Bazzy reportedly said he would go out in the morning to check on ordinance violations. The ordinance officers have reportedly been out there several times with no change to the situation; and
• Heard the supervisor’s executive assistant Karin LaMothe praise Lt. Bazzy’s work. Bazzy is now in charge of the 1½ ordinance officers the township has and he is making changes. “Since Lt. Bazzy became responsible, complaints have decreased 250%,” LaMothe said. There now are daily logs and, “I’m absolutely thrilled with the changes.” She added that 1½ ordinance officers is insufficient to enforce the ordinances, especially when the ½ officer is pulled off on dog complaints. She said with the working log, the process is streamlined, and she can follow a complaint. She said Lt. Bazzy will be making a report to the board.
By Rosemary K. Otzman