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Board inks 'imperfect' 2010 township budget

December 23, 2009 - Brandon Twp.- The 2010 budget may not be perfect, but it is balanced and it is done.

At their Dec. 21 meeting, the township board approved, by a 4-2 vote, a motion to adopt the 2010 Township Budget Appropriations Act. Supervisor Kathy Thurman and Trustee Tom Stowell voted no.

"The budget is not perfect by a long shot," said Clerk Jeannie McCreery, who voted yes to the budget, along with Treasurer Terry Beltramo and Trustees Bob DeWitt and David King. "We started too late. I voted yes because we have to have a budget in place by Dec. 31, or the state will come in and do it for us." It was a year ago that the township decided to form a budget committee to examine how cuts to the budget could be made.

The committee made recommendations this summer that included staff restructuring and cuts to department expenditures. The board ultimately approved a 5 percent wage cut for all full-time township employees, and additional cuts to each department. Reduction of road chloride applications for the year from five to three, another year of not participating in the NO-HAZ program, and a change in healthcare for employees are other highlights of the budget.

The 2010 budget appropriations include $1,686,619.53 for the general fund; $177,525 for parks and recreation; $1,943,891.29 for police contracting; $2,332,803.61 for fire department operations; $601,527.83 for fire department equipment and housing; and $956,380.09 for fire department ambulance.

Thurman said she agreed with all of the budgets, with the exception of the general fund budget, which is why she voted no.

"I'm happy that we adopted a balanced budget, but I wanted to see a greater deduction from the non-mandated departments compared to the mandated departments," she said.

"The board seems to all be in agreement that we should begin working on a 3-year projected budget that will work as a guideline for each annual budget, based on common goals and objectives."

Beltramo said that while the 2010 budget is not the best he believes they could have had, it is balanced, and he is more concerned with the budgets for 2011, 2012 and 2013.

"That is where we are going to be taking the big hits," he said.

"The economy won't be getting better for awhile. The county is saying it will take us to 2020 before we get to where we were before the bottom fell out... By law, we have to approve a 1-year budget, but once we get a rolling 3-year budget, it will be easier to adjust for each annual budget. We have a very diverse board and it's very difficult to agree on much of anything, but we have to compromise and that will take awhile to get into gear."

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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