Auditing firm presents ‘positive’ financial report to township board

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

BENTON TOWNSHIP – The Benton Township’s auditing firm had good news for the board of trustees.

Kenley Penner, a Plante and Moran PLLC representative, told board trustees the township was in good financial standing and they were being proactive in its infrastructure.

“You invested over $2 million in improvements,” he said. “That’s showing you are planning for the future and is a benefit for your residents. That’s not the case for a lot of townships your size across the state.”

One of the main highlights from the report included an update on the township’s general fund.

After what was projected, the general fund revenue came in $202,000 over budget while its expenditures were $455,000 under budget. That left the actual revenue-to-expense difference at $657,000.

Kelli Nelson, a contracted township accountant, said the two main factors for the lower-than-expected expenditures stemmed from the health insurance premiums and the high-deductible health insurance plan, which came to $87,500 under budget.

This was attributed to the health insurance plan change made Jan. 1, 2014.

“We had changed our health insurance plan to increase the deductible, so that gave us some of those savings,” Nelson said. “The township was also fully funded for its annual required contribution for its retiree health program.”

Nelson said other savings came from a lot of little things like road improvements that did not happen and a lack of computer expenses.

Superintendent Elden Piontek said he was happy with the state of the township’s three primary operating funds – the general, police and fire funds.

The township’s police fund expenditures were $293,000 under budget due to the savings of three police officers retiring.

“That was a big thing for the police to have part-timers in for the three retired police officers,” Piontek said. “That resulted in wages and related benefits being $250,000 under budget.”

The township was able to address its aging fleet by replacing three patrol vehicles, three detective vehicles, a trash truck and a fire truck.

The financial report has to be filed with the state by June 30. The township’s fiscal year goes by the calendar year.

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@thehp.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on June 17, 2015)

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