Following historic moves to fully fund the police and fire pension plan and transfers from the Shelby Township General Fund to its Police Fund, all three major funds supported by local tax millages are forecasted to run surpluses in 2015.
If realized, the township’s run into the black will be just the second time it has occurred since 2006, and shows a near complete rebound from the economic downturn in 2008 when property values and tax revenue plummeted.
“From the Board of Trustees to our employees and residents, we have all come together in the past six years to do more with less and work together for the good of our community,” Township Supervisor Rick Stathakis said. “I am very proud to relay this good news to our residents and taxpayers, but even more proud of the work everyone has done to make this turnaround a reality without raising taxes.”
While the General Fund has seen surpluses every year, and the fire department has posted four surpluses since the majority of the Board was elected in 2008, the police department has not had a surplus since 2009.
“The initiative our police department has shown by continuing to provide the best service possible without increasing costs is more than impressive,” Stathakis said. “Captain Steve Stanbury has done an excellent job leading the department through this process, as our officers worked with the Board to right these issues.”
A key part of the puzzle behind these forecasted surpluses was a transfer of the approximate value of .18 mils from the General Fund to the Police Fund that totaled $503,940 in 2014.
“This budget transfer was made to give our police department the financial stability it needs to maintain service while we seek more longstanding fixes to budgetary issues,” Stathakis sad. “This is by no means a long-term fix, but it gives us more time to affect the real, systemic changes we need to ensure financial stability and security in the police department.”
One of the “systemic” fixes that has already been realized to add stability to the police and fire department finances was the recent sale of bonds to fully fund the pension for retired police officers and firefighters.
“The fully-funded pension gives us more stability as it allows us to budget a more uniform annual contribution to maintain the pension fund,” Finance Director Allan McDonald said. “It also will reduce costs by giving us a lower interest rate on payments.”
Some of the hurdles that still need to be cleared are additional cost reductions within the police department to offset the need for the .18 mill transfer, as well as funding retiree healthcare obligations more thoroughly.
“We know there are still challenges ahead, but we also know they can be met because of the strides we’ve seen in other Township departments,” Stathakis said. “For example, our general employees have done an amazing job cutting costs and maintaining first-rate services since 2008, and this gives us a blueprint for future changes we need.
“Thanks to our general employees, and the Board of Trustees, the General Fund has projected surpluses in 2014 and 2015 despite more than $1 million transferred to the Police Fund and projected expenditures of $2 million for roads and sidewalks in that time — without raising taxes.”