PLEASANT PLAINS TWP. -- The Pleasant Plains Township Board of Trustees approved an updated fee schedule for township services at its meeting May 9.

The new fee schedule includes increases for services across the board.

According to Township Supervisor Tammy Ghent, an increase in fees across the board was necessary to help the township begin recouping some of its losses from the past several years.

"We are the lowest on our fees of any other township in the state," Ghent said. "Our fees are not generating enough revenue to support the services we provide."

Deputy Township Supervisor Kevin Braddy said this is an area where the township has stayed at the same level for years.

"We've been looking out for the better good of our community in keeping our costs down, but in the long run it has hurt us," Braddy said. "Everything is going up, and we stay status quo. Every other township around us has doubled or tripled their fees and taxes, but we've remained consistent over the last 15 years.

"We are now at a point where that has caught up with us," he continued. "We need to start making adjustments for the future of the township."

Planning Commission member Craig Lemm shared his concern over the land use permit fee increase from $40 to $75.

"That's almost double," Lemme said. "My concern is that when we double that, we are asking people to not pull them because they don't want to pay that fee. Any improvements made will add to the taxable value, and that goes back to the township. My fear is that if we double the fee, it might come back to bite us."

Braddy explained that the township is already running at a deficit when it comes to the zoning department, which is partially funded by land use permit fees, and that Pleasant Plains Township is one of the few townships that funds the zoning department from the general fund.

"Other townships fees are at the point where the zoning department is self-sufficient," Braddy said. "We have been running a deficit for the last four or five years, because our fees don't even cover the zoning administrator's mileage right now."

"We budget $14,000 for zoning each year, and that's costing the township because the fees don't generate enough to cover even half of that cost," Ghent added. "It's been running in the red for years, and we have had to cut everywhere else to pay for it."

Another option, Braddy said, would be to go to the public and tell them we need a millage to pay for the services we provide.

"I'm not one for more taxes and fees, but at the end of the day, the township won't survive the way we are doing right now," he said. "Every year we cut -- we cut from the treasurer, we cut from the clerk -- all we've managed is to sustain what little cash flow we have and stay mediocre.

"We either generate more revenue, or we cut more," Ghent said. "We have already cut everything we could possibly cut. The only other thing we can do is get rid of zoning and get rid of planning, that's where we are at. We can not operate on the money we are bringing in.

"When I came in, we were running a $200,000 budget and going negative by $100,000 every year," she continued. "The first year I cut the budget by $80,000. Every year since, I have cut it by $10,000 and we are still not bringing in enough revenue to get us flush and in a good position."

If people want services, they will have to pay for them, Ghent said. If they want blight remediation, they will have to pay for it.

"For the last four years, the planning commission has donated their time," Braddy said. "The only thing they get paid for is the public hearings. The zoning department is donating their time. These people provide a service to the community, and they should get paid for it."

"Everybody says we should cut salaries," Ghent said. "But that still won't get us the money we need, and we're putting in a lot of work for the community. What we get for taxes is shameful compared to what other townships in the state get. I move that we approve the new fee schedule and get it in place."

The motion to approve the new fee schedule passed unanimously.

For more information, or to see the new fee schedule, email township clerk Elizabeth Knight at pleasantplainsclerk@gmail.com or call (231) 660-4797.