Allegan Township prepares budget for fire trucks, building work

By: 
Ryan Lewis, Editor

Overall, Allegan Township’s next budget is only gradually increasing, with projected general fund revenue and spending up 2 percent over the current year.

That means the township will continue to pursue many of the same things as in previous years in its road and capital projects.

At his board’s budget hearing Monday, March 4, township supervisor Steve Schulz said the budget continued to allow the township to focus on maintaining good services such as fire and ambulance and road projects.

“We have good roads and we’ll continue to improve them,” he said. “We have great ambulance service, a great fire department and we haven’t had too many complaints.

“We’ve been saving in our recreation fund, our capital fund and adding to our road. Those three areas are very important.”

For the 2019-20 budget, projected general fund revenues total $1,099,500. It expects to take in nearly $13,000 more in tax revenue, and state aid payments are projected to increase another $25,000. The township is also backing off on how much it spends its fund balance down (which it counts as revenue)—it spent $148,596 in the current year’s budget which ends this month, and it plans to spend it down by $126,400 in the budget that starts up April 1.

 

Spending

This budget will again supplement road work, capital improvement, and the recreation fund at $50,000 each from the general fund.

For roads, that adds to the revenue the township collects from three 1-mill taxes that voters continue to renew.

Schulz said road work for the coming construction season was not yet determined other than the usual dust control and gravel work.

There are a couple projects that would be very pricey; Schulz said he is awaiting discussions with the Allegan County Road Commission to determine which are viable.

One includes where 123rd Avenue curves into 25th Street, east of Miner Lake Store. The 1-mile stretch of gravel road is narrow and the sight-lines are poor, he said, noting it was dangerous for school buses—especially as it was narrow enough that there was little room for snow to be pushed aside.

“We had a reconstruction estimate in 2017 of about $517,000,” Schulz said. “And that’s without blacktopping it, so it would be $750,000 by the end.”

Another project could be 28th Street between 118th and 120th avenues, another project expected to cost approximately $750,000.

The township’s contribution to the Allegan Fire District will increase to $121,000, up from this year’s $78,000. The department covers both the city and township of Allegan.

Most of that increase is due to the need to save up for large equipment such as fire trucks.

“We’ve done a long-term study on what equipment we’ll need to replace in the future,” said Schulz, who also sits on the fire board. “It’s critical to keep up our equipment. And that along with everything else is getting more expensive.”

That includes the firefighters’ turnout gear and other equipment. While the department secured a $180,000 grant last year to replace its compressed air tanks, there aren’t grants for everything.

“Our payroll is getting bigger as more people are moving into the area. And the requirements of training and the cost of the gear they wear—all going up.”

The township again plans to spend $90,000 on improvements at the township hall, as it did in the current budget.

Schulz said the flat area of the hall’s roof has begun deteriorating. The building was built in 1994.

“We’ve put a Band-Aid on it to keep it going, but we’ve decided to get that done, to put a gabled roof on it,” he said. “And we do need to finish off putting shingles on the remaining section of roof that hasn’t been addressed in recent years.”

The men’s and women’s bathrooms will also be updated.

Again matching Allegan County’s wage adjustments, the next budget increases township wages by 2 percent. This continues the trend from the past five years of gradual increases.

For 2018-19, the supervisor will earn a salary of $44,535 up from $43,661. The position has flexible hours but generally encompasses the township’s regular office hours of 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

For 2018-19, the clerk and treasurer will each earn $28,845 up from $28,279. The positions have no set hours, though they often staff the office during its regular hours.

For 2018-19, the two other board trustees will each earn $5,964 up from $5,847.

Other miscellaneous highlights include:

* Work will continue to add fencing and trees and shrubs at the cemetery

* The recreation fund will cover matching funds necessary to take advantage of grants for sidewalk work and road construction along River Street.

All of that spending is projected to leave the township with approximately $223,000 in its general fund balance at the end of the fiscal year, next March. That continues to be a solid 20 percent of expenditures.

Schulz said, “We feel fortunate here the economy is going well, we’re getting an increase in our sales tax money coming from the state. And people in the township are renewing the millages to help us get some things done in township.”

Township board members will vote on passing this budget at their April 1 meeting.

Contact Ryan Lewis at rmlewis@allegannews.com or (269) 673-5534.

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