BALDWIN - Pleasant Plains Township Supervisor Tammy Ghent told the board of trustees at its meeting May 16 that the state treasury department is having meetings with township leaders because their budget is coming out negative every year and they are using up the reserve balance.

"We need to be extremely careful about spending money," Ghent said. "Next year we could get hit hard financially. We need to find a way to be more conservative, because our budget is really tight.

"We don't want the government to take care of us, we need to take care of ourselves," she added. "We need to be prepared, so if we do take a hit, we know where else to cut. We're not going to have a good year or two, and we need to have an economic stabilization plan in place."

Ghent said they have cut expenditures every year since she has been there, and they still continue to use the reserve fund to balance the budget.

Deputy Supervisor Kevin Braddy told the board that due to the dwindling of their fund balances, they are in the bottom 1% of townships in the state with respect to fund balance and that is why the state has taken notice.

"We are going to have to have a five-year budget stabilization plan," Braddy said.

According to Braddy, the department of treasury has told them to expect a loss of 10 percent from state revenue sharing next year, and possibly as much as 20 percent.

"That's a loss of $9,000," Braddy said. "We have trimmed about as much as we can from the budget, but we're going to have to decide where to go now. Whatever happens, we won't feel the impact for a couple of years."

Ghent said two areas they need to look at are refuse and zoning, because those are being supplemented from the general fund.

"One issue is we are not generating enough in the refuse account to pay for the services we provide," Ghent said. "That account should be bringing in $150,000, based on the number of parcels we have on the tax rolls, but we are only getting $138,000. We are paying more than $138,000 for that service every year, and our balance is coming down more every time we pay our bills."

Ghent added that at one time they were making enough in the refuse fund to pay for the blight remediation program, but now they are running a deficit, which is eliminating the ability to do anything about blight.

"We need to commit to blight remediation and get our neighborhoods cleaned up, but if we can't pay for it, we can't have it," she added.

"We need to sit down and really get a grasp on what's going on," Braddy said. "If we have a hotel that is generating three times as much trash, but they are getting picked up for the same cost as residential homes, then that's an issue.

"As a township, we need to push the idea that commercial businesses that generate more trash need to pay more," he continued. "Maybe we can come up with a commercial rate and a residential rate."

Regarding the zoning department, Ghent said, it has been running a deficit for years.

"We budget $14,000 dollars for zoning, and they don't generate enough revenue to cover that," Ghent said. "If you look at what we are generating and what we are paying out for zoning, it doesn't even come close."

Braddy added that Pleasant Plains Township is one of the few that support the zoning administration from the general fund, while most zoning departments are self-sufficient.

"They (other townships) have separate fees for all kinds of permits, including land use, plumbing and electrical," Braddy said. "Here, it is $40, and you can do whatever you want.

"Our zoning board does not even get paid," he continued. "They provide a service to the township, they should get paid for it."

The board of trustees approved across the board fee increases for services at its meeting May 16, as one attempt at mitigating the financial strain on the township's budget.

The board will have a workshop meeting at 11 a.m., May 23, to discuss their options going forward.

"We can't make any decisions, it will just be a brainstorming session," Ghent said. "We don't bring in what we pay out for services, so we either have to generate more revenue or cut more."

For more information about how to join the workshop meeting, visit pleasantplainstwp.com or call the township clerk at (231) 660-4797.