August 29, 2012 - Atlas Twp.-Township coffers will stay level at more than $2.9 million.
Mark Perry, CPA for Yeo & Yeo, presented the annual financial statements and auditor's report for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2012 at the Aug. 20 township meeting.
The township budgeted $1,201,005 for 2011-2012 and ended up with $2.9 million in fund equity. The balance remains at about 270 percent of the budget. The fiscal year included total revenues of $1,252,333 with expenditures of $1,315,088 prompting dipping into the fund balance for $62,754. Last year, during the 2010-11 fiscal year, the township fund balance jumped by $187,000.
Township Clerk Tere Onica said the healthy fund balance was the result of good planning years ago, but expect some changes coming up.
"We should have at least one year operating expenses on hand and the board over the years has been very conservative," said Onica. "Our main expenditures coming up are for roads—we still have aging infrastructure in the township."
Some of the fund balance will also be used for police funding in the upcoming year.
The township established a contract with the Genesee County Sheriff's Department about 13 years ago, funded by 1 mill from area property owners. Since 2007 the cost for police protection has risen from $432,205 to $538,653 in 2012, about a 24 percent increase. A special assessment of $50 for every improved lot and $25 for unimproved lots was established in 2006 to offset the additional cost.
be used. The garden contains several varieties of black-eyed Susans, sedge (a low, grass-like evergreen plant), native columbine, switchgrass, blue stem and potentilla.
However, it has also been overtaken by quack grass, an invasive species which Native Landscape Team Member Rick McAvinchey said is not easy to remove as it entangles itself among the native plants intentionally placed in the garden.
Native landscapes are a growing trend across the country. The Heritage Garden requires no watering, fertilizer or pesticides and is beneficial to wildlife including birds, butterflies and insects. The garden was designed in keeping with the type of garden that would have been planted in the 1800s, giving it historical and environmental significance, but it has also drawn complaints locally due to its unconventional, non-manicured look.
Celia Ryker, member of the native landscape team, acknowledged that this past season has been particularly difficult in keeping the garden under control due to a lack of volunteers, extreme heat this summer, and last winter's mild conditions.
"Once we have more help we can keep the non-native plants out," she said. "We're getting exactly what I wanted— people are noticing. But we can make it better."
Anyone interested in volunteering with the Native Landscape team or learning more about the Heritage Garden is encouraged to call Lois Robbins at 248-969-2518 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
However due to a decline in property values the 1 mill and special assessment are not enough to cover the cost.
"About $80,000 will come out of the fund balance this next year to offset police costs," said Onica.
Onica and other township officials are concerned about the aging Genesee County drains, which have been ignored over the years. The financial plan to upgrade the drains calls for Genesee County to pay 50 percent of the cost, the township 25 percent, and residents pay 25 percent.
"We do have serious water issues in the township, but we have to wait for the county to do their part," she said.
"The township will have to keep an eye on expenses and what the needs of the township are going to be in the future."
While some increases in expenses are forecasted, revenues have also increased
Due to population increases tallied in the 2010 United States Census, state sharing revenues increased from $377,000 in 2011 to $405,000 during 2012. In addition, funding from a new cell tower located on the Gale Road township property will also add to the coffers.