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Township stays in black despite economy

September 22, 2010 - Groveland Twp.-While many communities struggle with a loss of state shared revenues in a sagging economy—Groveland Township continues to linger in black ink.

On Sept. 18, Ken Palka, from the accounting firm of Pfeffer, Hanniford and Palka, reported on the township finances following the completion of the yearly audit. Palka, who reported the clean audit, said only a few corrections were needed.

"I was pleased with the results," he said.

Palka reported $294,955 excess revenues over expenditures. The township realized a decline in projected state shared revenues of $51,261. Yet despite the drop in revenues, the township is on solid financial ground with nearly $2.2 million in the infrastructure fund. The account includes funds earmarked for projects such as road paving and emergency reserves. The township budget is about $760,000 ending March 31. A transfer from the infrastructure account requires board approval.

"I'm sure we are going to have less cash to put away each year due to a decline in property taxes and the drop in state shared revenues," said Bob DePalma, township supervisor

"I believe that the longterm future of the township will hinge on the development of the property we own on I-75," he said. "We need to get in revenue outside the state shared and property taxes. Right now we have not a new home per-mit in two years—I don't think there's going to be surge in housing for a long time. Rather, we need to generate business —commercial or recreational, something that fits in the community."

Regarding the infrastructure account that swelled township coffers to $2.2 million, DePalma said the board was proactive over the past few years in making the necessary cuts.

"From freezing salaries to a 25 percent cut in healthcare to not replacing positions in the township, we have downsized to anticipate this downturn," he said. "We were proactive and saw thre writing on the wall years ago. That's were the bulk of the money came from."

"However, it will take money to make money—that's where the infrastructure account comes in. With the shape the state of Michigan is in right now, a $2.2 million balance gives lawmakers the wrong impression, so we can't leave the money in a general fund account. Many projects we need to save up, thus we have a balance. It's just fiscally responsible."

DePalma said the township will continue to seek a developer after a project fizzled earlier this year.

Development of the 197 acres of township property located north of Grange Hall Road, east of I-75 and west of Dixie Highway with a small section of the property located on the southeast corner of Grange Hall and Worden roads, hit a snag as investors stepped down from a $4 million set-up in 2008. The deal would have included a $750,000 allowance to the township for the construction of a new firehouse. In addition, terms of the deal included drinking water be brought to the site from the Detroit Water and Sewer Department and the development of a special assessment district for a wastewater plant. The development, named Stonehenge Pass, LLC, was to be owned by area businessmen Barry Bass, Robert Gilling and Thomas Kenny.

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