Laketown passes budget with improved fund balance

Budget includes funds for contracted services, though groups must come before board.
The Laketown Township Board of Trustees passed the 2024-2025 budget on Wednesday, March 13, 2024.

The Laketown Township Board of Trustees unanimously approved its 2024-2025 budget on Wednesday, March 13, 2024, that includes staff pay increases and an increased fund balance.

The 2024-2025 budget projects total revenues of $1,955,485 with total expenditures of $1,950,416, increasing the end-of-year fund balance by about $5,000 over the previous year’s budget.

“It’s certainly not deficit spending,” said Manager Al Meshkin.

The projected fund balance at the end of 2024-2025 budget year is $1,242,219, about 64 percent of the total general fund budget.

Pay issues

The budget includes a 5 percent increase for staff salaries that drew discussion at an earlier workshop.

Supervisor Linda Howell said the township will be seeking proposals for a wage study. That study will also help in the upcoming search for a new manager. Meshkin, who has been in the position for more than 30 years, retires next March.

The budget does include a one-time payout to Meshkin of $162,121 for his retirement. “You’re not going to be doing that next year,” he said in response to board members who were concerned about spending. “If you keep the same budget for the following year, the township will be about $167,000 in the black.”

Board of review

The board, in a separate motion, unanimously approved a $10-an-hour pay increase for members of the Board of Review.

Board of Review members made $20 an hour – “very low when you consider the service they do for the township,” said Meshkin. “It is a difficult and typically thankless job.”

Members who hear taxpayer reviews must also take state training courses.

The township board approved raising the pay from $20 to $30 an hour. The pay increase is effective March 1 so members receive pay for this tax season.

Laketown Township’s fiscal year is April 1 through March 31.

The township levies 1 mill for general operations. It also collected 2.9756 mills for fire, roads, bike paths and drains.

Expenditures for fiscal year 2024-2025 decreased about $19,400, from $1,969,834 expected for 2023-2024.

Elections spending is increasing by $32,140, from the expected $55,600 for 2023-2024 to $87,740 for 2024-2025. This is largely due to the early voting requirements.

Contracted services

The budget also includes $63,000 in township board contracted services, a category of agencies that get funding for services provided to township residents. The board, however, agreed to review each organization individually before allocating the funds.

The category includes $45,000 to the Friends of the Felt Estate (for operating and maintaining the Felt Estate), $5,000 for Evergreen Commons (a place for older adults to live active lives), $2,000 for the Resilience (formerly known as the Center for Women in Transition), $1,500 for Holland fireworks and $1,000 each for 70 Times 7 (restoring the lives of people affected by incarceration), Reach For Recovery (helps recovering addicts), Allegan County Legal Assistance Center, and FellinLove Farm (a family farm for all ages and abilities). Several other organizations are funded at lower levels.

Many of these organizations will be presenting to the township board in April and May.

At the Wednesday meeting, Allegan County Chief Circuit Court Judge  Margaret Zuzich Bakker addressed the board regarding Allegan County Legal Assistance Center’s funding request. The non-profit organization helps with civil issues including divorce, personal protection, child support, landlord-tenant and guardianship.

The group served 3,210 people total in 2023. Since it was formed in 2012, it has served 27,087 people.

Of the total served, 0.4 percent were from Laketown Township.