Prairie Township to dip into rainy day fund
Prairie Township will dip into their rainy day fund to pay for road improvement projects.
In the past, road projects were paid for out of the general fund, said Tracy Hatmaker, township administrator, but this year there is not enough in the general fund to cover the projects. This year, $250,000 is being taken out of the rainy day fund to help cover a $300,000 price tag on 2010 road improvement projects.
“Historically, the township has always used the money that it made off the interest of the rainy day fund to do road repairs,” said Kennedy.
He said this fiscal year there is not enough revenue from the rainy day fund to use and the fund itself must be used to cover costs.
Township Trustee Steve Kennedy said five to ten years ago, there was around $9 million in the rainy day fund, generating an estimated $500,000 a year in interest. This interest was used for funding road work.
“One of the previous boards (of trustees) spent $4 million dollars out of the rainy day fund, and that cut half the interest amount. In 2008 we had $240,000 coming in off of interest and in 2009 that dropped to $140,000. We are anticipating that to be even lower this year. We anticipate it to be around $90,000 this year and for $90,000 we wouldn’t be able to do the routine maintenance we need to do on our roads,” said Kennedy.
He said after initially balancing the budget, $140,000 of the general fund could be used for road repair.
Kennedy said the $140,000 appropriated in the general fund was not sufficient for what he said were “roads in desperate need of repair.”
He said the budget appropriations for road work have been kept consistently at $300,000 in previous years.
Kennedy said the board is aware revenue projections are anticiapted to decline.
He said the board had several discussions and explored the possibilities of staff reductions, furloughs and raising taxes.
“The worst thing we could do is raise taxes. That is the last thing we want to do. Most people I talked to said use the rainy day fund,” said Kennedy, “I asked about 25 township people in my drive-thru what they thought we should do and a majority said if there was money in the rainy day fund it should be used before any consideration of increased taxes.”
He said the general concern, however, was if the board would have to take $250,000 out of rainy day fund each year from this point on to fund road work.
“We also realize this cannot go on for the next two years. We are hoping that the economy takes off and the JEDD takes off,” said Kennedy, “But, if things don’t improve we will have to make some tough decisions.”
The JEDD, or Joint Economic Development District, partners Prairie Township with Columbus to redirect a portion of income tax revenues in order to stimulate economic development.
Kennedy said he could not yet be specific about which roads needed the most repair until after the yearly road survey had been conducted. However, he said he knows Village Park has crumbling curbs everywhere and there are several roads needing to be updated.
Grant and loan money is currently being used to fund the South Grener Road Improvement Project and that will continue into the fiscal year of 2010. Kennedy said the loan payment for Grener is appropriated in the general fund.