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Franklin Township budget still in the black
Franklin Township’s preliminary budget was discussed on Feb. 21 and Feb. 23 amongst the road, fire and police departments with the township trustees, and though the budget has not been finalized, it appears the township is running in the black.
Former Fiscal Officer Crystal Cook has been assisting the township with the budget process and said the reason the township has done well during these trying economic times is very conservative accounting practices.
“We never invested in questionable investments; we just used the money from the interest in the bank. We never had enough money at the time to do that. So we pretty much stayed at the safe side of investing that way,” said Crystal Cook.
Trustee Chairman Tim Guyton agreed that the township is very frugal with the funds they are entrusted and the township was very fortunate to have residents who passed the police and fire levies.
“The levy is in its early stages so the reduction factor for the rate of collection is minimal, meaning it is bringing in the full amount intended,” said Guyton.
Trustee Don Cook said the trustees anticipate that there will be money that will carry over into the years to come as long as the taxes the township receives remains the same, but Cook said none of the trustees have plans to spend that money at this time.
“Just spread it out over the next few years. Those levies police and fire passed, those have to cover the next five to six years or longer. The longer they can stretch it out, the longer before they have to pass another levy,” said Cook.
The budget still needs final adjustments but the total for the estimated resources for the township is $8.7 million. Of that amount, $5.4 million was slated for the fire department, $1.2 million is allocated to police operations and training, $775,000 for the road department and $1.3 million for the general fund.
Trustees will not approve the finalized budget until March or April. Once the budget is finalized, trustees will send the budget down to the county auditor.
“You won’t really get a good picture until it’s finalized,” said current fiscal officer Katherine Wihl. “You don’t want to put numbers that aren’t there that might change things. No number is set in concrete at all.”
Each department offered up a “wish list” of things the department heads hope they can get this year, but they have to wait for board approval.
“We really need to aggressively replace our engine; it’s starting to become a mechanical problem and wasting township money. We need to get a new computer system server,” said Fire Chief Richard Howard.
Howard said the cost of a new engine to replace the 14 year-old engine starts at $400,000.
Police Chief Mike Castle mentioned he had previously contemplated starting a bike patrol, but is taking a wait-and-see approach.
We haven’t really put any time or effort into it. I’m not saying that we’re not, but I can’t say for sure we will,” said Castle. “Given the total volume of the area we have to cover, the only feasible area (for a bike patrol) right now is the Westfield-Eastfield addition. So do we do that and not give our other people service where the demand is?”
Jim Stevens, township building and maintenance supervisor, kept it simple.
“Get rid of the sickle mower. Yes, it would be nice. It would probably be $7,000 for a new mower to go on back of the tractor,” said Stevens.
Trustees are also pleased that in addition to balancing the budget, the township is able to continue to provide services other entities have discontinued, such as brush pickup.
“I think our residents will appreciate us coming and picking up the brush,” said Guyton. “The city is definitely cutting that out; it’s all about dollars, but by law stuff can’t go in that landfill.”
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