2018-03-29 / News

Lake Township budget projects lower expenditures

By Thomas Reznich

The Lake Township Board adopted a budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year which features reduced expenditures. The vote came after the township’s annual meet­ing and a budget hearing March 24.

Township Clerk Tonya Clare said the board went through the budget “line by line” to determine what costs occurred last year in order to come up with this year’s budget. She said that in the case of the general fund, this year’s expected expenditures of $266,047.99 are down from last year, when the township spent $291,226.86 from the General Fund.

A large factor in the difference in ex­penditures comes from the fact that few­er board members are using the town­ship provided health insurance, which brought the budget for that line item down from $30,000 to $5,800.

The approved budget for 2018-19 includes total revenue of $803,860.05, total expenditure of $773,820.04 and is expected to leave an estimated fund balance of $1,413,516.90 as of March 15. According to Supervisor Dave Em­mons, he expects the fund balance to be less than estimated after the March ex­penditures and revenues are calculated.

The 2018-19 budget levies .09158 of a mill for township operations; .09628 of a mill for fire department operations; .07470 of a mill for fire department equipment and .07470 for roads.

General Fund revenue in the budget totals $284,588, while expenditures total $266,047.99. Road Fund revenue totals $88,523 with expenditures of $104,000. The township’s Fire Operating Fund will have revenue of $134,196 and expendi­tures of $126,989 and the Fire Equip­ment Fund will have revenue of $88,523 and expenditures of $85,000.

A special assessment for garbage col­lection will raise revenue of $140,709, and expenditures are expected to be $147,322.50.

With no increase in board member wages approved at the annual meeting, Supervisor Emmons, Treasurer Harry Trier and Clerk Clare will continue to receive $20,100 per year, while trustees Anthony Farhat and Roger Kohn will get an annual wage of $4,327.68.

Township Assessor Mike Houserman will receive a wage of $23,959.80, Land Use Officer Bruce Olson will get $8,034 and Fire Chief Charlie Aldrich will re­ceive an annual wage of $5,850.

The annual meeting began with a “State of the Township” report by Em­mons, during which he went through a month-by-month list of highlights. He commended Clare and Trier for “making the books balance,” and thanked Farhat for updating the township’s recreation plan to comply with the Department of Natural Resources’ grant requirements in time to meet the March 1 deadline.

He also thanked the planning com­mission and Olson for their work and commended the fire department for maintaining the township’s insurance rating, as well as firefighters’ participa­tion in the Shop with a Hero program in December.

Looking ahead to the coming year, Emmons mentioned that the board would try to tackle the question of whether the township hall should be remodeled or a new township hall should be built, look at building a footbridge over the Muskegon River and asked residents to approve a fire department operations millage renewal of .966 of a mill in the coming August election. “If we don’t do it, our fire department goes away,” said Emmons.

During public comment, resident Sheila Sensor suggested that the town­ship locate the township hall closer to the center of its population, and suggest­ed that the fire hall could be used or add­ed onto. She also told Emmons that the township should look into possible li­ability issues if it built a footbridge over the Muskegon River, and also warned of “vacation rentals,” the practice of rent­ing homes (other than resorts) on a daily or weekly basis. She said the practice is rampant at homes along the lakefront in the township and that the rentals fre­quently exceed what would be normal occupancy, with 20 or more people and numerous vehicles using single-family dwellings at once.

Resident Robyn Pillinger-Daniels said that a bill currently under consider­ation by the state legislature would strip townships of any say regarding the vaca­tion rental practice, and urged residents to contact their legislators with their concerns.

Emmons told Sensor that he had been told by the Roscommon County Road Commission that the township would face no liability with the footbridge proj­ect, and Olson said that there may be considerations the township should look at under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Trier noted that a food cart had been in operation in the township last year and asked if the township has “any control over who sets up a food cart?” Trier also mentioned that there has been “some hostility between board members and department heads” in the township and said he thought the parties involved “could control the anger between each other for two or three hours per month.” Emmons said “I agree. We have an issue there.”

Marilou MacKenzie, who recently stepped down as chairperson of the township planning commission, said the thought that having a centrally located and “neutral” town hall is important. Pillinger-Daniels said the township clerk and treasurer “have done a good job at being responsive” despite working out of their homes for the most part.

Emmons said he understood the de­sire to have the hall located in the town­ship’s population center, but added that he didn’t think there were “enough peo­ple to justify a fulltime office.”

A resident who lives on Northway Road told the board he thought the town­ship was doing a good job, but that they had chosen “pole barns over families” in their zoning, which has had a negative effect on his neighborhood. He said he thought it was not right to have so many pole barns in a residential area, and said that one of his neighbors had established a deer camp near enough to his home to see it from his property.

Planning commission member Jim Mikolaizik noted that “there is not a single swing in this township,” and asked where the township is regarding the de­velopment of a park. He said “money should be put into a new hall and a park for the people of this township.”

Emmons said “feasability has to be weighed on building a park. Studies have to be done.” Trier said that a mill­age would be needed to support a park and that “people don’t like the taxes we have now.”

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