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Despite tough economic decade, township coffers swell by $1M



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August 21, 2013 - Atlas Twp.- Bradley DeVries, a CPA for Yeo & Yeo, presented the annual financial statements and auditor's report for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2013 at Monday's township meeting.

"There's two years of expenses in the coffers in the bank," he said. "You just don't see that too often, even in the other nearby communities."

Since 2004, the township has doubled its general fund balance, swelling from $1.1 million in 2004 to just over $2.2 million in 2013. The fund balance is the excess of the township assets above its liabilities (what the district owns minus what it owes). While cash is an asset, it's only one of many of an institution's assets. Others include: accounts receivable, prepaid expenses, supplies, equipment and buildings.

The fiscal year 2012-13 included total revenues of $1,215,773 with expenditures of $1,299,680, prompting dipping into the fund balance for $83,907. Still, the township maintained a hefty $2,229,593 general fund balance.

Overall, township revenues comprised of state sharing, property taxes and services slid last year, while general expenditures increased. Some of the higher costs were due to additional township road repairs in 2011 and police funds prior to passing a millage in May. Revenues declined due to less interest income and lower taxable values, added DeVries.

Tere Onica, township clerk, said the decade of solid fund balances stems from long-term conservative spending.

"It was good fiscal management," said Onica. "(Former) Township Supervisor Paul Amman was very conservative in his approach to the township finances. "We have not given out cost of living wage increases in many years. We see township residents losing their jobs and homes to foreclosure—how could we take pay hikes? Also, the community is General Motors country and we are impacted by the auto maker's downturn. Township employees don't have health benefits, it's very conservative expenditures. Rather, we spent money on roads and that continues today. The contract with Genesee County Sheriff's continues to cost, but we're keeping that in check—they do an excellent job."

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 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.

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