Source: Sherman Publications

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Groveland Twp. ends fiscal year with more in coffers

by David Fleet

October 16, 2013

Groveland Twp.- On Monday night the township board of trustees approved an audit presented by Ken Palka, from the accounting firm of Pfeffer, Hanniford and Palka.

Palka reported on the township finances following the completion of the yearly audit. The board approved the audit ending March 31, 2013. The township ended the year $220,000 with additional funds and $80,000 in the black for the fire department—for a total of about $300,000 in additional funds.

"We are now 100 percent debt-free to the outside world," said Bob DePalma, township supervisor. "Since we had the cash reserves last year, we paid off the MERS and OPEB. It was better to pay off an 8 percent (interest) obligation rather than gain about 1 percent in interest. We are very pleased with the clean audit, we came out great."

DePalma said in February that part of the 2012-13 budget included paying off about $206,000 in pension funding through the Michigan Employees' Retirement System (MERS) in addition to Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB).

State shared revenues to the township increased to $397,738 compared to $384,679 for the 2011-12 fiscal year despite a drop of 11 percent in population in the 2010 Census.

Total for the year ending March 31 included $1,031,623 in revenues up from $1,001,682 for the 2011-12 fiscal year. Expenditures were $823,820—an increase from $644,182 for the 2011-12 fiscal year

"The money was used to pay off obligations for OPEB and MERS—thus the zero debt," he said.

The township fund balance grew to $2,204,515 for the 2012-13 fiscal year, up from $1,965,024 in the 2011-12 fiscal year.

In addition, $1.5 million was reported in the infrastructure fund.

The infrastructure account, established in 2009, includes funds earmarked for projects such as road paving, and property development and emergency reserves. A transfer from the infrastructure account requires board approval.

"The township has a healthy fund balance," said Palka. "They have funding for some large projects in the future."

"I think we've gone through the worst of the economic downturn—we're at the bottom and seeing a little more daylight," he added.

"The township still has about 115 acres of property on the north side of Grange Hall Road and 40 acres on the south side to sell," he said. "We anticipate getting that property on the market next summer."

"We also have been proactive over the years," he said. "We reduced healthcare costs as much as possible. We are going to make the changes given the new requirements for healthcare the intent is to be 100 percent under the new guidelines by the first of the year. It's a moving target right now."

Some of the infrastructure fund will be used on paving about one mile of Oak Hill Road between Kier Road and Dixie Highway in 2014. The $1.875 million project will be paid for with 80 percent federal funding, shared dollars from Springfield Township and tri-party funding.

In addition, work to the approaches on Perryville, Buckell Lake and Van roads will be considered in the spring.