In an animated, friendly, yet hardly productive budget workshop on Monday, Dec. 10, the Baldwin Township Board managed to get next to nothing accomplished.
According to the agenda, the town board was supposed to review 2012 budget line items and establish line items for each of seven funds for 2013.
In preparation for the meeting, township clerk Cathy Stevens was directed to come up with a three-year average expenditure on each line item. This was to serve as a guideline for the 2013 budget line items.
As it turned out, the computer-generated numbers were significantly skewed and largely irrelevant.
“If we look at the three-year average, then look at the 2012 actual, the numbers aren’t as scary as you think,” Supervisor Randy Atwood said. “2012 actually is a better indicator, moving forward. The averages are just a resource, don’t put a lot of stock in them,” he said.
The reason for having the three-year averages is because Livonia Township does it that way. “Livonia’s clerk comes up with a proposed budget based on past expenditures,” Supervisor Kim Good said.
“I was asked to do a three-year average, I wasn’t asked to propose anything,” Stevens countered.
“Livonia is Livonia and we are Baldwin,” Atwood reminded everyone.
Some of the items discussed were:
Road & Bridge:
The board discussed, at length, the mandated, yet unfunded, road sign policy. Included in the Federal Highway Administration’s policy is traffic sign maintenance. Township maintenance employee Terry Carlile explained, “We only need to replace the posts in 50 mph or higher roads in order to make them crash-worthy. We have to replace all the wooden posts.”
It is estimated to cost $120,000 for this project and it must be completed by 2018.
“We need to move in that direction,” Good said.
Good proposed setting aside $20,000 each year from the road and bridge fund in order to have the money to accomplish this item.
The final payment on the fire hall was made earlier this month.
“We have tightened the belt, but we are on borrowed time on some of our equipment. We would like carryover to go into an equipment fund,” Chief Mike Rademacher said.
“We also need a capital improvement plan for the equipment. We have firefighters wearing 12-year-old equipment,” he said, noting that a couple firefighters were prevented from participating in regional training because their protective gear was not adequate. Rademacher further noted that the compressor is 15 years old and could go out at any time.
Rademacher pointed out to the Baldwin Town Board that Princeton’s fire department protects a similar number of people yet has more than twice the budget.
“We have growing expenses that we have no control over,” Rademacher said, asking that the board consider increasing the fire department budget for 2014.
The fire department budget for 2012 was $90,000, while the 2013 certified amount is $110,000. 2014 numbers will be determined by residents at the March 2013 township annual meeting.
The township parks budget for 2013 is $25,000, up from $2,000 in 2012. The bulk of this money will go to install pavilions at Young Park and the remaining money will go to pay park utilities, landscaping, labor and engineering fees.
The board also mused on how to verify that maintenance employees’ wages are paid out of the correct fund. It was decided to have each worker keep track of his hours worked in the cemetery, in the park and on the roads and the clerk would make sure the appropriate fund was charged.
After two hours of nearly fruitless discussion, Good chided, “Quit your yapping and let’s get to work.”
Eventually, the board did have a plan for the debt services fund, the park fund, the capital improvement fund and the cemetery fund. Looming still are the three big funds: general fund, road and bridge fund and fire department fund.
The board decided to have board members work on these budgets throughout the week and bring them for approval at the December 18 township meeting.
Supervisor Tom Rush, acting chair in Jay Swanson’s absence, will get together with Rademacher to put together the fire department budget.
Supervisors Good and Handshoe will put together the road and bridge budget.
Supervisors Atwood and Rush will work through the general fund budget.
“Next year,” Rush said, “if I get elected, I want to go through the line items. Take a look – wages, engineering fees and attorney fees – that’s where the money goes.”’
Rush and Atwood are both up for re-election in 2013. Good’s term expires in 2014, while Swanson and Handshoe are on the board through 2015.