Thursday, September 7, 2023

Township receives top rating on financial audit

Sumpter Township received the highest possible rating on the financial audit for the fiscal year  which ended March 31.

Auditor Rana Emmons of the Post, Smythe, Lutz and Ziel accounting firm presented the audit findings to members of the township board during the Aug. 22 meeting. She said the township had received a clean audit with no clarifying opinions and no exceptions or disclaimers from the independent auditors. “We have nothing bad to report,” she told the board. “This is the highest level possible.”

Emmons complimented Township Finance Director Scott Holtz and his staff on their work on recording and reporting financial matters of the township and said the entire township staff had been cooperative and efficient in providing the information needed for the audit.

She told the board members that while there was no property millage increase in the township, there was a 6.1 percent increase in taxable value. In addition, she said, township revenue was up 6.4 percent as compared to previous increases of only 2 percent.

She said part of the increase in revenue was the state “catching up to the 2020 census” which increased the amount of state shared revenue the township received. She noted that township Treasurer Bart Patterson had done a “nice job on getting the interest income up” by taking advantage of interest rates. 

Landfill royalties remained at nearly the same amount as in previous years, she said, as did building permits.

“Consistent and stable would be the words” to describe the finances of those items, Emmons said.

She said the township added $252,000 to the general fund and noted capital expenses included demolition of the fairgrounds and the installation of new fencing there, the purchase of three new police vehicles and the emergency repairs made at township hall.

“The township has no new debt,” she said. She noted that while the water and sewer fund showed a $125,000 loss, it was “moving in the right direction.”  She noted that water costs to the township increased by 4 percent and the water department had paid off $515,000 in debt.

Emmons praised the 80 percent funding of the township pension fund, noting that the board had done an outstanding job. “The board has been 100 percent compliant with what the state requires them to contribute annually,” she said. “However, the board has taken a step further the last few years by sending extra amounts to mitigate things like stock market fluctuations,” she said. “The board sent $440,000 this year on top of what is required to make sure the pension fund is solid. The township has $11 million in pension trust fund. That's not an insignificant amount,” she added. “This board is doing everything you can to be proactive.”

The state requires a 60 percent funding of the pension obligation, she said, and several communities struggle to meet that amount. At 80 percent in Sumpter, “the state will be happy with that,” she said.

Emmons concluded by again thanking township staff members for their cooperation and professionalism in the preparation of data for the audit. “Everyone was very accommodating,” she said.