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Supervisor: 'Budgets cuts imposed fair, in best interest of taxpayers'

December 08, 2010 - Brandon Twp.- Less than a minute.

That was the length of a public hearing regarding the budget Monday night when no residents spoke on the matter.

About two hours later, after a year of workshops, debate, and controversial cuts, the General Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2011 was adopted 5-2 by the board. Treasurer Terry Beltramo and Trustee Cheryl Gault voted no.

"I feel the 2011 budget represents a combination of a lot of hard work and numerous budget meetings and across the board cuts," said Supervisor Kathy Thurman. "Although all boardmembers did not agree on every line item, I believe the cuts that were imposed were fair and in the best interest of the taxpayers. The budget represents reductions in each department at the township offices."

The decisions on two cuts preceded the vote on the budget. The first was the elimination of the recreation programmer position, which passed by a 6-1 vote, with Beltramo voting no. The second was the reduction of the full-time deputy treasurer position to a part-time administrative assistant position, which passed by a 5-2 vote, with Beltramo again voting no and Gault joining him. The position will be limited to 32 hours per week. The changes are effective Jan. 1.

Beltramo said he voted against the elimination of the recreation programmer position because he felt it was a move against the person who holds the position, Diane Lapp, rather than about the position itself. He voted against the change in the deputy treasurer position because he objected to the changing of the name for the job and also because he said he needs the position full-time. Gault said she voted no to the reduction because "I had to take position of the treasurer that the position is needed for the mandated position in the treasurer's office."

Although she voted no, Gault said she commends the board for all the work they did developing the strategic plan and budget.

"It was a lot of excellent work, everyone came together and agreed on our pri-orities, but there were some issues with following priorities that we set in our strategic plan and how those were followed through for revenue and expenditure line items in the budget," she said. "My biggest concern is that we protect the health and safety of our residents and that means fire and police and some for roads."

Beltramo agreed, saying the strategy he wanted was to chop everything that wasn't mandated out of the budget, and then add non-mandated items back in as they could afford.

The approved general fund has revenues and expenditures of $1,568,840.50; parks and recreation is $148,090; fire department operation are $2,130,763.29; fire equipment and housing is $435,707.70; ambulance is $1,178,959; and the police contract with the Oakland County Sheriff's Office is $1,794,848.90.

All township offices have been reduced in staff from a year ago, and the number of police deputies has been cut from 14 to 10.5 (with a shared deputy with Independence Township).

"I think budgeting in the future will be easier because we now have a three-year budget plan in place," Thurman said. "We're looking at more long-term effects and priorities...We will wait to start working on the 2012 budget until we get projections on taxable values for 2012 and we will be looking to see what the 2010 audit brings, which will be done in the spring."

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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