By Amanda Ensinger
Despite recently passing a fire levy, a local township still has many tough financial issues to face, including completing a state audit.
Franklin Township passed a 5.89-mill replacement levy, saving the fire department from potential layoffs. However, this new levy doesn’t fix other financial issues the township is facing. Among these issues is an audit the township is undergoing with the state.
This audit includes approximately $1.5 million that is unaccounted for. According to township leadership, this is a result of accounting errors by the previous staff members.
“The fiscal department has been working very hard to fix this problem,” said Trustee Aryeh Alex.
If the township does not complete the audit, it could be put in fiscal emergency. This means, according to Mary Rhinehart, fiscal officer, the township would be responsible for paying back all the money that is unaccounted for, as well as CARES Act funding received.
“We are trying to prevent this from happening,” Rhinehart said. “If we are put into a fiscal emergency, we also will be responsible for paying back almost $2 million.”
The township would also lose control over their finances and would have to get approval to spend any amount of money.
The fiscal officer plans to give regular updates to the board about this auditing process until this issue is resolved.
Besides the financial issues within the township’s fiscal office, the police department also is facing its own issues. The police department is having conversation about asking voters to approve a levy.
Currently, the township has a five-year timed levy for the police department that will expire at the end of 2022, according to Franklin Township Police Chief Byron Smith. The township is considering adding the levy to the ballot in 2021 or 2022.
Smith said the department needs these funds to continue to keep the staffing levels at where they currently are. He said prior to this levy being approved, the department only had four or five full-time staff and were operating limited hours and shifts.
“We usually don’t ask for multiple levies for different departments in the same year,” said Mark Potts, township administrator. “We do though like to get ahead of these things and ask for a levy significantly ahead of when they will expire so if voters don’t pass it, we have time to ask again before it expires.”
According to Potts, the township does have a history or levies failing at least once before they are approved by voters.
“We like to have several opportunities to get a levy passed and have plenty of time to plan for the future, so asking for these levies before they expire gives us an opportunity to do that,” Potts said.
According to Smith, the department is down one officer, but they are covering all their shifts.
“We will be meeting with the board about renewing the police levy in 2022,” he said.