Ypsilanti Township approves budget with surplus, plans to add more police officers
The Ypsilanti Township Board of Trustees has approved a budget for 2012 that projects a $208,000 surplus and calls for the the addition of four new police officers.
The board unanimously approved the budget at its December 6 meeting.
“The township has always been conservative, so we were blessed with healthy fund balances going into this mess, along with very little debt,” Township Clerk Karen Lovejoy-Roe said.
The township is projecting $28,145, 980 in spending while generating revenues of 28,351,632. Revenues are down $215,000 from the previous year, which is attributed to the conclusion of a federal energy grant, loss of property tax revenue, a franchise fee increase and a loss of statutory state revenue-sharing.
But because Ypsilanti Township gained residents in the last census, its constitutional state revenue figure actually increased, giving the township an overall net increase in shared revenue of $482,000.
The township spent $733,000 settling a lawsuit over police services with the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners, but had budgeted $1.5 million, which freed up approximately $775,000.
Community stabilization spending, which includes the township’s efforts to combat blight and public nuisance buildings, increased by $355,000. But much of that was a transfer of legal costs from the legal budget so the township can better track how much it spends on community stabilization.
The township and firefighter’s union are without a contract and currently in negotiations. A projected $658,000 decrease in the department’s operating expenditures is largely made up by employee concessions, including a 3 percent pay cut and health insurance savings.
Lovejoy-Roe said the township saved around $500,000 when six firefighters retired several years ago, but increases in other costs has wiped out those savings. She noted the department currently has a healthy fire fund balance at $3.2 million, but $1.02 million is budgeted to be used this year, and the fund will be depleted by 2013 if nothing changes.
“The biggest hurdle in the budget is the fire department,” Lovejoy-Roe said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to work with their organization to get their budget trimmed.”
However, the township is planning to spend nearly $500,000 more on police services this year. Lovejoy-Roe said that is largely attributed to voters approving a 1.5 mill tax last year, though both police millages expire at the end of 2012.
That helped provide for four new deputies and will allow the township to spend approximately $75,000 to partially reopen the Holmes Road station and move the Sheriff’s Department deputies from the Township Hall to the State Police Post on Huron Street.
The state is closing that post, but the State Police and the township are working on a plan in which the state would give the township the building and the township would allow four or five troopers to operate out of it.
“This is all pretty exciting,” Lovejoy-Roe said of the police services. “It will help protect the neighborhoods and that helps keep property values stable, so this has been great.”
The township is most concerned with its environmental services fund, which includes trash collection, recycling and yard waste disposal. The millage for those services has decreased significantly and the township has been dipping into its fund balance to cover losses.
But, overall, board members were pleased with their financial picture.
“It has been tough and a lot of people have sacrificed in wages and benefits and pensions, and and we’re down 38 less employees so people are also doing more work,” Lovejoy-Roe said. “But, just like everyone else in the public sector, we’re pulling together and trying to get over the hump, which is more like a mountain at this point.”