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Township survey in today's edition



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July 21, 2010 - Brandon Twp.- Township officials are urging residents to complete a fiscal priorities survey found in today's edition of The Citizen.

The survey asks Brandon Township residents to rank the importance of 13 services currently offered, including fire, police, recreation, roads and senior citizen programs. Additionally, the survey seeks opinions on reductions and eliminations in expenditures as well as possible fees and millage increases the township board is considering to increase revenue.

"It's never been more important for residents to let us know what they want in terms of service and size of government and most importantly, what level of police and fire services they want," said Trustee Tom Stowell. "We are trying to do what the people want the best we can."

The township board has been conducting budget workshops for several months in an effort to balance the 2010 budget and develop a 3-year projected budget as tax revenues decrease and expenses increase. The township is expecting at least a $250,000 shortfall over the next three years.

While there are certain mandated government services, Stowell notes the township is not required to have a recreation department or senior center, these are services the township has chosen to offer.

"I think there will be varied responses to the survey and public safety will rise to the top, but after that, we need a sense of what they are thinking," Stowell said. "You have to shrink the government to meet the resources you have. The more opinions we have, the closer we can come to making the right decisions."

Stowell said a 5-10 percent return on the survey is "usually pretty good." He hopes to get about 800 to 1,000 responses. Surveys should be completed and mailed or dropped off by Aug. 7 to Township Supervisor Kathy Thurman, 395 Mill St., Ortonville, MI 48462. Township residents are also encouraged to include any additional suggestions. The survey can also be completed online by going to www.brandontownship.us and clicking on the survey link to SurveyMonkey, through which the results will ultimately be tabulated.

"We're trying to maintain as many services as possible, but we might get to the point to where we can't sustain all of our services without additional revenue," said Thurman. "The additional revenue would be in the form of fees, a millage increase, and using alternative sources such as cable funds and cell tower funds. The board's position is to go in the direction that would have the least impact on the residents, such as using cell tower fees and cable funds... It may boil down to us having to decide further down the road if we have to cut a service or increase a fee, that's where the survey will be very helpful to us."

Stowell said he hopes to have the results of the survey ready to be released by the end of August.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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