Source: Sherman Publications

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Orion slicing township staff

by Laura Colvin

October 07, 2009

Hit the bricks.

That, essentially, was the message Orion Township sent ten employees last week— including one with a 32-year tenure—in an effort to balance next year's budget without dipping into the township's hefty fund balance.

Although the township had a general fund balance of $6,073,781 as of Dec. 31, 2008—about 102 percent of its $5.8 million in expenditures—the board unanimously approved layoff notices for a township receptionist clerk, custodian groundskeeper, assessing clerk, appraiser aide, appraiser II, appraiser III, ordinance enforcement officer, park maintenance worker, and a parks and recreation programmer.

For comparison, Independence Township's fund balance is 8.6 percent of expenditures and Oxford Township is 25 percent.

Orion Township Community Programs Director Lisa Sokol said she's not certain what impact the staffing cuts might have on Parks and Rec.

"We're losing a part-time programmer," she said. "It will probably affect what types of programs we're able to offer in the future, but we only heard about the layoffs two days ago. It's too early to tell."

Supervisor Matt Gibb also proposed layoffs for the township's voter registration clerk, accounting clerk I and a level-one appraiser, but the board voted 4-3 to retain those positions; Shultz, Young, Crane and Van Tassel voted in favor, while Gibb, Porter and Steimel voted against.

Clerk Penny Shultz said while her office will assume the majority of the departing receptionist's duties, she's not willing to lose the voter registration clerk, as Gibb initially proposed.

"I'm a new clerk," she said, noting guidelines for election officials are becoming more and more complex. "We have three elections next year and it would be difficult to run them without her experience and assistance."

Gibb said he's approached all the township's contractor and asked for a 10 percent reduction in fees.

The reductions, he said, coincide with the economic decline affecting the township.

"Most stepped up to the plate," he said, noting planners Carlisle-Wortman accepted the reduction, as did engineering firm Plante and Moran -- even the comapny who mow township lawns, he said, was willing to take a cut.

Those that don't run the risk of being replaced, Gibb noted.

Gibb also defended the hefty fund balance, noting the township is likely to face an additional million-dollar shortfall next year. The board will meet for another workshop later in October.

The budget will be presented for public hearing before it is officially adopted.