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Twp. 'holding steady financially,' auditor says

July 16, 2014 - "We're holding steady financially and we're getting special projects done."

That was the "big picture" description of things from Rana Emmons as she presented the audit report for the 2013 fiscal year to the Oxford Township Board.

"We have some good news and bad news," said Emmons, who is a partner with the Plymouth-based PSLZ LLP Certified Public Accountants.

She started off with the bad news. "The property taxes have declined once again as far as taxable values," Emmons said.

The township's tax revenue for 2013 declined by approximately 3 percent.

"Your operating millage didn't change," Emmons said. "It's a reflection (that) your taxable values have dropped a little bit."

She noted the township experienced a similar decrease in 2012. "So, over two years, in the general fund, you're looking at approximately $30,000 in lost revenue," Emmons said.

"It's more significant in the fire and ALS funds. If you combine the two, it was about $50,000 each year. So, (there's a) $100,000 (loss) over a two-year period."

But Emmons isn't worried because of one word – development. "I do believe the township is positioned very well," she explained. "You have a lot of development activity, which is great, and that's going to bring you around quicker than a lot of communities."

The general fund's fund balance (or reserve) remains strong at $1.92 million as of Dec. 31, 2013. The township began the 2013 fiscal year with a fund balance of $2.63 million, but allocated $1.37 million for "special projects" such as safety paths and expanding the township hall to accommodate a meeting room and substation for the Oakland County Sheriff's Dept.

"That's not a surprise," Emmons said. "You had planned to do that."

But the township's 2013 revenues exceeded expenditures by $660,008, which meant the fund balance had a decrease of $709,992, instead of $1.37 million.

Emmons reported to officials that things are looking good as far as the water fund.

"Because of the development, we did see increases in your water and sewer tap (or connection) fees – not the fees themselves, but the actual revenue amount that you generate due to the activity," she said. "This is allowing your water fund to stabilize."

In the past, Emmons had advised township officials "to keep an eye" on the water fund. "And you are," she said. "The township board's been very good about that."

The water fund warrants more attention because of the approximately $12.36 million bond debt the township owes for previous water system improvements.

The township is scheduled to make its last water bond payment in October 2030.

"A lot of the debt service part of it is dependent on our connection fees," Emmons said. "So, as long as we have that activity, and it's been healthy the last couple years, it's allowing that fund to stabilize. We're able to pay that debt service every year and put a little money aside in the water fund."

When it comes to debt, Emmons indicated the township has things well in hand.

"We paid down debt and we didn't add anything new," she said. "That's a good thing."

Emmons noted the debt for the fire/library bond will be paid off in 2016. "Within a couple years, that's going to go away," she said.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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