Benton Township board OKs next year’s budget

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

BENTON TOWNSHIP — Benton Township Board members approved several budgetary items to close out the last meeting of 2016.

On Tuesday night, trustees approved next year’s budget, moved for a budget amendment for 2016 and gave themselves and township employees 2 percent raises.

The board recessed from its regular meeting briefly to hold its budget hearing. Superintendent Kelli Nelson presented the proposed budget and went through each fund for trustees and audience members.

In regard to taxable value, Nelson said Benton Township’s value decreased due to the phase out of the personal property tax.

“If we are reimbursed from the state, based on the Essential Services Assessment, we will have constant property tax revenue,” Nelson reassured the board. “If we are reimbursed, as (the state) said we would be come February, our tax revenues will remain constant.”

Nelson said if the township is not reimbursed, the loss would be about 4.5 percent of its tax revenue.

Trustees then approved Nelson’s proposed break-even budget of $2.9 million. The general fund budget included the library contribution, money set aside for unexpected demolitions and drains at large.

Nelson said the township will be fully funding its annual required contribution for retiree health coverage.

One of the last items trustees approved for the 2017 budget was a 2 percent increase in the board’s salary and per diem.

That means Supervisor Kevin White will receive about $28,000 a year, Clerk Carolyn Phillips will get more than $54,000 annually, Treasurer Debbie Boothby will receive nearly $51,000 a year and trustees will now earn $96 per meeting attended.

The budget amendment

Nelson began the meeting by presenting a proposed budget amendment to close out the 2016 balance.

First, there was an amendment to general fund revenue for building licenses and permits.

Revenue from the sale of fixed assets was also amended. This accounted for the sale of the old Holiday Inn hotel to DeNooyer Chevrolet this year.

“We have experienced a significant amount of development within the township and the permit fees have exceeded what was originally budgeted,” Nelson said. “Sometimes we don’t amend the revenue, but with the expenditures we are making, I found it necessary and prudent to do so.”

Among the expenses amended for the 2016 budget included an unexpected payoff of the Rizzo drain project, charges used to update a storm-damaged parks building and an extra transfer to the township’s equipment and replacement fund.

The next board meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 6 at the Township Hall.

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 Dec. 21, 2016)

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