Thursday, February 24, 2022

Finance director presents budget overview

Sumpter Township Finance Director Scott Holtz gave members of the board of trustees a quick overview of the municipalbudget situation during the regular meeting Feb. 8.

Holtz said his purpose was an effort to give the trustees a quick summary of the finances of the township as they approach the end of the fiscal year. He said that as the township had been through 75 percent of the fiscal year by Dec. 31, 2021, there should be 25 percent of the budgeted amounts left in the various categories.

“The General Fund is in pretty good shape,” he told the board members. He said that the fire fund had spent about 60 to 70 percent of the allotted budget but that only about 45 percent of collections have come in. He said the police budget had only collected about 6 percent but that almost all of the funds have been expended. “Again, that is because of collections,”he told the board members.

“If we do not collect it all, Wayne County buys our delinquent taxes and will make us whole,” he explained.

He said the rubbish fund balance was light but that was due to the billings from July through January not yet recorded. He noted that there was a transfer of $160,000 that had not been recorded and that a budget amendment for that amount was going to be necessary. He noted that there were also some other transfers that needed clarification or amendments.

Holtz explained that the township had received $490,000 from the American Recovery Act in December. He said that is half of the total amount and the remainder is expected in December 2022.

He said the water fund was “doing OK” but could be doing better. “I need to do some more research,” he said.

State revenue sharing is down 2.87 percent, he said, although he did not know the reason. While inflation is at 7 percent, he said, taxable value would probably increase by only 2 to 3.3 percent in the township.  

Holtz asked the board members if they would prefer to return to quarterly budget reports and said he wanted to know “What do we want to accomplish in the next fiscal year.” He said that he prefers to work on a multi-year budget especially when dealing with upcoming contract negotiations so the board could see the effect on the budget.

Deputy Supervisor/Trustee Tim Rush asked Holtz how the rate of inflation would affect the township finances.  Holtz said that while he thought there could be problem, he also felt the township could “cover it.”

Township Clerk Esther Hurst asked Holtz if the current millages were enough to cover the operating costs of the fire and police departments. Holtz said that those departments are always covered by royalty fees although the costs in the fire department were difficult to predict as “we don't know how many fires we will have.”   

Trustee Don LaPorte agreed noting that the number of fire responses has increased dramatically from year to year with the number of new homes in the township.

Trustee Matt Oddy said the township budget is always short in the police and fire departments and the funds have traditionally been transferred to cover the expenses.

Hurst suggested that some communities charge insurance companies for having the fire department at the scene and asked if any of that expense was tracked in Sumpter.

LaPorte was solidly against that proposal.

“While I'm pretty sure the law allows for it, I don't think that would sit well with our public.”

Trustees agreed that such a charge would not be acceptable.