Benton Township posts good grade in audit report

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

BENTON TOWNSHIP — When it comes to the annual “financial physical,” Benton Township was given a clean bill of health.

Trustees listened to a presentation Tuesday by Kenley Penner, a partner of Plante Moran, who said the township has a clean audit report.

“This is quite possibly one of the best reports we’ve delivered and were able to present in a while,” Penner said. “This year, the opinion is unmodified – better known as a clean audit opinion – which is the highest level of assurance we can give on your statements.”

The township’s revenue exceeded expenses by about $195,000 over three operating funds – the general, police and fire funds. The majority of the surplus came from the general fund. Its expenditures were under budget by about $453,000.

Comptroller Kelli Nelson said the increase in revenue was attributed to significant projects and more growth in the general fund.

Projects included the sewer system upgrades to the sanitary lines and lift stations. The growth in revenue aligns with the increase in permit fees the township collected from the various construction projects that Whirlpool Corp. and Lake Michigan College began in 2015.

“More businesses coming into the area is a sign of growth for the township’s economy,” Nelson said. “We try to budget for the revenue that these permits generate, but we always try to stay conservative on those because it’s hard to determine what will be built. We had a really good year.”

The audit revealed the township was able to use the general fund to pay off two drains at large assessments, which resulted in a savings of about $35,000. Nelson said that would reduce future operating costs.

There were no tax millage increases in 2015, though the township posted a loss in tax revenue from big box stores and personal property taxes.

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 22, 2016)

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