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Published: Wednesday, 1/11/2006

Bedford Township: Auditor reports township finances in decent shape


TEMPERANCE - While townships across Michigan continue to struggle financially, Bedford Township has weathered the storm of large cuts in state revenue sharing over the last four years and is in decent financial shape, an independent auditor has concluded.

Don McGuire, of McGuire and McDole, presented the township board last week with his annual audit of its books, once again giving the township and finance director Andy Gurecki high marks for their continued financial stewardship.

Mr. McGuire said the township has net assets of just over $40 million, including all of its land, buildings, cash, and property and still has $3.4 million in its rainy day fund, or about 114 percent of its annual expenditures.

While Bedford's overall audit was very positive, Mr. McGuire identified two areas of continued concern for township board members: expenses from operations of the Bedford Township Wastewater Treatment Plant and the continued decline of state revenue sharing payments.

Board members last month dealt with the shortfall at the sewage plant, passing on a 9 percent increase for local sewage bills that residents should begin seeing this month. The increase should help bring some balance back into that account, Mr. McGuire said.

The auditor also said that state revenue sharing payments, which accounted for $2.3 million in revenue to the township in 2001, has fallen to $2.05 million by 2005, a decrease of more than 10 percent.

"The cumulative effect [of state revenue sharing cuts] has cost Bedford Township almost $590,000 over that period of time," Mr. McGuire said.

Clerk Bob Schockman said that Bedford Township's continued growth and tight spending have helped.

"Growth doesn't hurt us, because it keeps the building department functional. The rest of the township runs really off of revenue sharing, and we've just been conservative with the revenue sharing dollars," Mr. Schockman said.

Mr. McGuire did offer one option available to the township board to offset some of the state revenue cuts it's endured. He said current law in the state allows to township to impose a 1 percent fee on local property tax collections as a way to offset the costs of operating both the treasurer's office and the township assessor's department.

The fee could generate an estimated $242,000 a year for the township, Mr. McGuire said. However, township board members expressed no interest in imposing the fee.

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