Source: Sherman Publications

Funding drops with population for city
City manager calls for recount

by Trevor Keiser

April 06, 2011

While Independence and Springfield townships saw a population increase over the past 10 years, according to the 2010 census, Clarkston declined.

“It’s hard telling (why it dropped)," said City Manager Dennis Ritter. “We have a couple apartment buildings here that may have something to do with it, the occupancy rate.”

The city had 962 residents in 2000, falling to 882 in 2010 – a loss of 80 residents, 8.3 percent.

Ritter said they want a recount.

“The only thing I’ve done so far is I’ve had SEMCOG (Southeast Michigan Council of Governments) send out some documents as to how proceed. It’s called 'The 2010 Census Count Question Resolution Program.' That’s where we start,” Ritter said. “We’re small enough it wouldn’t take us long to do a recount as long as we follow the procedures set by the Census Bureau”

Each person counted in the U.S. Census equals about $1,000 per year in federal funding for local governments, he said.

“We don’t know what Governor Snyder has up his sleeve right now. The count difference could mean the loss of several thousand dollars, which makes a big difference this operation,” Ritter said.

Independence Township added 2,100 residents, from 32,581 to 34,681, a 6.4 percent increase.

“The census increase was because of local government and what they have brought that has enhanced this community,” said Supervisor Dave Wagner. “As you look around over the past several years and all the changes that have taken place, this has really become a desirable place to live.”

The increase in population, Wagner said has also helped during the decline in property values.

“People have built new homes and taken over existing homes that foreclosures have taken over,” he said.

Springfield Township counted 602 more residents, an increase of 1.8 percent, from 13,338 in 2000 to 13,940 in 2010.

The increase may be due to township services and programs, as well as the appeal of rural living, said Supervisor Mike Trout.

"It’s extremely difficult to say exactly why our population grew slightly – however, we would probably consider our community as basically stable," Trout said. "Both more accurate counting and just normal family growth could be factors also."

The townships do not receive state-shared revenue, the supervisors said.

“Our statutory state shared revenue has been gone for several years,” Wagner said. “That’s another thing under my leadership – we braced ourselves for that because we had plenty of warning and so that’s why we’re in pretty good financial shape.”

Other parts of Gov. Rick Snyder’s budget plan, including Emergency Financial Status legislation and Economic Development Incentive Fund, will also have no effect on Springfield Township, Trout said.

"We do not receive statutory revenue sharing, do not have collective bargaining units, and are fiscally responsible," he said. "These issues seem to be the primary elements of the plan."

Wagner says he agrees 100 percent with many of the governor’s reform efforts.

“I can’t believe he is living up to his promise to do these things. I know he has a little bit of a fight on his hands, but something has to be done and no one has ever done anything. Here you got a guy they call ‘the nerd’ and thank God for nerds,” Wagner said. “He has the guts and he has the votes to be able to implement some of these things.”

Ritter said he is concentrating on state shared revenue, and what Snyder has been looking for, including governments “to consolidate services, combine services, things of that nature.”

“Quite honestly I think we’re a poster boy for that, we’ve had cooperative agreements for Independence Township in many of areas, not just police, fire, and library,” he said. “As I understand it right now, I think we’re going to meet his criteria. We’re sure going to try.”

Trout said Springfield Township is also continuously looking for ways to be more efficient.

"Any proposal to incentivize economic development should be considered for both its costs and benefits," he said. "If resources are available to businesses we want to be a partner to the extent possible. As I’ve said before, we continue to examine regulations that may be restrictive or burdensome as well. This situation has forced communities to reevaluate their growth strategies, whether they want to or not."

The township will continue to obtain grants for specific projects such as public safety and pathways to offset operational budget pressures, he said.

"I think the biggest opportunity continues to be on how we can cooperate with other communities to deliver quality services to residents," Trout said. "That of course has it’s own drawbacks but will certainly be something we consider as we go forward."