Sylvan Township approves slightly smaller operating budget for next fiscal year
Lisa Allmendinger | AnnArbor.com
Editor's note: This story has been corrected to not that the approved budget is smaller than the previous year's.
The Sylvan Township Board Tuesday night unanimously approved an operating budget of $448,950 for 2011-2012 — a decrease of $21,100 from the previous year — which includes $170,000 for legal fees.
Supervisor Bob Lange said the township’s appeal of a lawsuit brought against it by a developer “will cost a lot of money. I think it’s prudent to increase the amount.”
The legal fee line item was increased from $150,000 in 2010-2011 to $170,000 for 2011-2012.
The township’s appeal is expected to be heard by the Appeals Court on March 8 said Township Attorney Pete Flintoft, who added he did not know when a written decision would be rendered by the court.
He said the court could affirm the lower court decision, reverse the decision or change the judge’s findings, but he would not speculate on what or when that might happen. Among the budget changes on the revenue side, Lange said he anticipates an increase in state revenue sharing from $171,700 in 1010-2011 to $175,000 for 2011-2112, but a reduction of $15,500 in property tax collection - from $187,500 last year to $172,000 this budget year.
Township board members also anticipate a reduction of $8,900 in the collection of administrative fees.
On the expense side, the township plans to spend $5,000 less on roads and approved a budget of $25,000.
The township’s contribution to the local bus service, WAVE, was reduced from $350 to $200 following resident outcry when the township’s original $300 contribution was reduced to zero as a cost-cutting measure by Lange in the proposed budget.
Several of the about 35 people in the audience urged the supervisor to reinstate the small amount because they said WAVE buses provide transportation for those most in need in the township.
“There are programs for individual rides for handicapped or needs-based kids who utilize this service,” said Trustee Scott Cooper, who serves as the township’s representative to the WAVE board.
Lange said that budget can be amended and reduced the deputy clerk line item by $200 to fund the bus service.
The largest increase on the expense side was for the township’s receptionist/office help line item, which increased from $4,500 to $7,000. Lange said the increase was due to increased responsibilities for the office including more regular updates to the township’s website as well as added assistance for both the clerk’s and treasurer’s office.
The election budget was reduced by $2,500 while the line item for training and conferences was reduced from $1,500 to $500. In addition, the line item for consultant fees was reduced from $20,000 to $5,000.
During the public hearing on the budget, several residents asked about the budget and former township supervisor Michael Williams called out Lange for “not providing information about the township’s debt service fund,” for sewer and water.
The township owes about $9.775 million for water and sewer debt service bond payments and about $4 million in judgments from the courts following a lawsuit by two developers.
He said that Lange should have at least provided “the bare minimum information,” as Williams had done when he presented the township budget.
“It would have behooved you to provide the ins and outs of the debt service fund,” Williams said.
Trustee Reuben Lesser was absent from the meeting.