Thursday, October 7, 2021

Sumpter receives highest possible financial audit rating

Sumpter Township received the highest possible rating on the recent financial audit of the municipal finances and practices.

Rana Emmons, from outside accounting firm Post, Smythe, Lutz and Zeal, told the board members during the Sept. 28 meeting that the “clean” audit found no exceptions or disclosures by the financial professionals.

She said that while state shared revenue was flat and there was a decrease in income from building permits, the township managed to increase the fund balance by $419,000. There was, she said, a 2-percent overall increase in property values in the township which added to revenue received without any millage rate increase.  

Emmons also noted that the township was able to pay $500,000 in water bond debt with $2.5 million remaining on those bonds. 

She commended the board members for their contributions to the MERS pension fund which has reduced the township liability “significantly”. She noted that during the current financial climate, many municipalities have been unable to make extra payments or reduce that outstanding liability.

“The township did very well on the pension investments,” Emmons said. “Sumpter was able to pay $440,000 extra into the pension fund. I have to commend the board for the extra pension contribution which is a great idea.  It puts the township money to work.”

She explained that the township pension liability is now 84 percent funded, far above the average of other communities.

“Again, I have to commend this board for making pensions a priority for at least three years that I can see. You have very methodically invested the pension funds to get to the 84 percent.  That extra contribution allows you to ride out any downturn in the economy,” she said.

At the request of Trustee Tim Rush, Emmons explained that the township bond rating is now at an A minus, which, she said, is very strong.

Trustee Matt Oddy asked the Certified Public Accountant if there were any violations of commingling of grant funds or any financial improprieties found during the audit.

“No, we did not find anything that would indicate that,” she said. “This is a very specific audit. We are trained to look for that. There is a whole list of questions the state requires us to answer. The state says you have complied with all regulations and procedures,” she said.

Oddy said his question was in response to a recent letter printed in a local newspaper attributed to Ronald Barrington Robinson who claimed financial malfeasance by the current members of the board. 

Oddy went on to say that he felt the board members had a duty to counter the misinformation being published. 

“We need residents to hear from you that you looked and didn't find” any such misuse of funds. Oddy added that the misinformation being published is harmful to the entire community. 

“The writer is common in these letters that continue to be published.

“Businesses get hurt, residents get hurt by this misinformation. People don't want to start a business here or move to the township. It is harmful to the entire community,” Oddy added.