Pleasant Plains asking for additional millage

Funding shortfalls may lead to fewer services

PLEASANT PLAINS TWP. -- Pleasant Plains Township residents will be asked to vote on an additional 1 mill assessment for four years for township operations in the November elections.

The Pleasant Plains Township Board of Trustees approved a resolution to place the millage proposal on the ballot at its meeting June 29.

The township currently receives 1 mill for operations, along with revenue sharing from the state and fees charged for services.

Township treasurer Ronnette Hanna told the board they have lost around 8 percent of their revenue sharing funds so far, and expect that to go up to as much as 25 percent, due to the COVID-19 restrictions that have weakened the economy.

Revenue sharing funds are a percentage of the sales tax generated by money spent in the township and are distributed by the state.

"We receive revenue sharing quarterly and it is normally around $15,000 each time," Hanna said. "This month it was down to $12,000. The next disbursement is down to $11,000, and it is expected to continue to drop, which hits us pretty heavy because revenue sharing is a big part of our operating budget.

"As the state generates more revenue, our share will trickle back up," she continued. "But right now they are talking about the shortages continuing for two to three years."

With the cancellation of Blessing of the Bikes and Troutarama, Township Supervisor Kevin Braddy said he would expect the next two hits from revenue sharing to be worse that the first two.

The problem, he said, is that the township's fund balance is decreasing every year because those funds are being used to cover shortfalls and balance the budget.

"The state is curious about why the fund balance is going down, and what we are doing about it," Braddy said. "We've made great strides with cuts at the township level, but with COVID-19, things are getting even tighter. We have developed a five-year plan and are working on a ten-year plan to bring the fund balance back up.

"Money is tight for us right now, but it is tight for everyone else, too," he added. "We decided to go for the one mill, and prove to the residents we are using it wisely and doing the right things with it, then keep building from that.

"If the proposal doesn't pass, it's going to mean fewer services," he continued. "Without additional funding, we are looking at more cuts across the board, and we have already cut just about everything we possibly could from the budget."

Braddy told the board that he and Deputy Supervisor Tammy Ghent are auditing the books from the past fifteen years in order to see where the fund balances went and what the money was spent on.

Once the data is collected, it will be available on the township website, or by email, he said.

"The information we collect will be openly available to the public so they can see where cuts were made, where the money is going, and where the money comes from," Braddy said.

The current 1 mill the township receives for operations is the state minimum every township receives, and it has never been increased, Braddy said.

"Every other township has additional operating millages, ours never has," he said. "That is one of things we took into consideration."

If the township ends up losing 25 percent of the revenue sharing, that will amount to around $38,000. An additional assessment of 1 mill will add around $52,000 to the township budget.

"The two mills would take us down to using about 15 to 20 percent of the revenue sharing to balance the budget," Braddy said. "The rest of the money would go to increase the fund balance and fund special projects in streets and roads, and zoning enforcement."

An additional assessment of 1 mill will add $1 for every $1,000 of assessed property value.

The board also approved a resolution for the renewal of the fire millage to be placed on the ballot. The 2 mill assessment is what is currently being collected. The vote will be to continue the millage for another ten years.

In other business, the board approved a recommendation to send a request for a special land use permit to the planning commission. The special land use permit is for the establishment of a marijuana grow facility at the former King Sports Center property.

The planning commission will consider the request at its meeting at 10 a.m., July 18, at the township hall, 7333 S. M-37, Baldwin.