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Township approves $12M budget for 2018

Alex Doty • Nov 14, 2017 at 10:00 AM

The Grand Haven Township Board has given its stamp of approval to the community’s $12.8 million budget for fiscal year 2018.

“We have a balanced budget,” Township Manager Bill Cargo said during Monday night’s public hearing on the budget.

The new budget includes $11.7 million in revenue and $12.8 million in expenses in all 12 of the township’s funds. The main difference between revenues and expenses, officials note, comes from money for the pathway expansion project, which was received in 2017; however, construction won’t be completed until 2019.

Total township fund balances/cash reserves are expected to exceed $9.25 million at the end of the fiscal year.

Although Grand Haven Township adopts a single budget resolution each year, township officials note that the total budget consists of 12 separate budgets — one for each of the township’s funds. 

As part of the myriad approvals for the 2018 budget, the Township Board affirmed adjustments for elected officials’ salaries. The supervisor’s salary received a 1.5 percent cost-of-living increase; while the clerk, treasurer and trustees salaries were raised to meet the average of 15 other townships surveyed by the township.

The supervisor’s salary will increase from $18,842 to $19,125 a year; the clerk’s salary will rise from $13,469 to $20,440; the treasurer’s salary will be hiked from $9,440 to $14,200; and trustees’ salaries were adjusted from the current $3,983 to $4,400 a year. All positions include a $50 per month stipend for at-home internet access.

“There’s nothing wrong with being at the average with this big of a township,” Township Supervisor Mark Reenders said. ”I don’t see any reason why a trustee shouldn’t at least be at the average.”

Reenders said he thought the clerk and treasurer positions also needed to go up, and that he was fine with his 1.5 percent raise.

Reenders also noted that the increases were important if the township wants to ensure that it can attract qualified people to run for office.

Township Treasurer Bill Kieft — who voted against the increase for the treasurer but was in favor of the other elected officials’ pay hikes — noted that all current elected officials knew what their pay would be when they ran for office, and that the issue would be better off if it was decided at a later date. He also noted how many of the responsibilities of the elected officials have been taken on by township staff due to the size of the municipality.

“I’ve been on this board a long time, and I’ve seen how much of the work has been delegated to staff,” Kieft said.

Trustee Cal Meeusen, however, noted that the pay has nothing to do with the amount of time that is put in by the elected officials, but instead the responsibility that is taken on by them.

“I assure you I’m not here for the money,” Meeusen said. “The money doesn’t have a whole lot to do with it, but we do administer a $12 million budget.”

Other highlights from the township’s 2018 budget include:

— The General Fund budget will have revenues of $3,447,320 and expenditures of $3,442,530. Its fund balance will remain relatively unchanged at an estimated $2.1 million on Dec. 31, 2018, with $370,000 of this total designated for future park improvements. This fund balance equates to about a six-month surplus.

— Property tax revenues are expected to increase slightly, from about $608,000 in 2017 to $630,150 next year. 

— Taxable values in the township increased about 2.52 percent in 2016 over 2015. Additionally, revenues associated with construction have continued their current trend with a total of $360,000 estimated in permit fees. 

— The township’s state-shared revenues are stable at about $1.28 million, which includes about $1.23 million for the constitutional portion of revenue sharing and about $51,000 from the statutory portion.

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