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Twp. budget: Pay hikes, 200 percent fund balance



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March 13, 2013 - Groveland Twp.- On Monday night by a 5-0 vote the township board of trustees OK'd the 2013-2014 budget.

Township officials report about $200,000 in surplus revenue with about $2 million in the infrastructure fund, just over 200 percent based on a general budget of $987,520 and building fund of $26,000. The infrastructure fund is earmarked for projects such as road paving and emergency reserves.

"We have been proactive over the years and have frozen salaries in addition to not replacing positions in the township," said DePalma. "This budget will include a 5 percent increase in pay for elected and office staff—full and part-time. Subsequently, adjustments to the pension and health care package have been reduced."

Part of last year's budget included paying off about $206,000 in pension funding through the Michigan Employees' Retirement System (MERS) in addition to Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB), added DePalma.

Other features of the budget will include using some of the infrastructure fund on a 2014 paving of about one mile of Oak Hill Road between Kier Road and Dixie Highway. The $1.8 million project will be paid for with 80 percent federal funding and shared dollars from Springfield Township. The Oak Hill project was delayed one year and some of the Tri-Party Program funds will be used. The annual Tri-Party Program involves one-third funding from Oakland County general government, one-third from RCOC and one-third from the community.

DePalma said no major road improvement projects are anticipated in the near future; however, work on the intersections of Perryville, Van and Buckell Lake roads will be considered.

"Many projects we need to save up for," said DePalma. "Thus we have a hefty fund balance. It's just being fiscally responsible and if the funding is needed for the development of the 197 acres of township property located north of Grange Hall Road, east of I-75 and west of Dixie Highway, then we have it."

DePalma added that if a water treatment plant or other infrastructure improvements are necessary to attract a prospective buyer for the develpment, then funding is available.

"Consider, too, in the township we've had about four years of declining property values—this year will be the second year of increases," he said. "Home values are up 2.5 percent. But vacant property values have declined. I believe we have seen the bottom of the property value decline, it will be positive for the next 20 years."

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