Township board works on 2023-24 budget issues
By Kevin Elliott
The Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees met on Monday, January 30, to discuss changes to the township’s 2023-24 fiscal year budget and to discuss how best to spend $4 million in federal coronavirus recovery funds.
Bloomfield Township Finance Director Jason Theis said property values across the township continue to increase, with the township’s total taxable value projected to increase to about $4.752 billion, up from about $4.45 billion in the current budget, which ends on March 31. Further, he said a reduction by rollback in property tax revenues related to the state’s Headlee Amendment isn’t expected to reduce overall revenues.
“There was a thought that there would be no rollbacks in most of the state,” he said.
The state’s Headlee Amendment limits local property tax increases and ties limits to the rate of inflation. That means when the assessed value of a taxing units’ total property increases more than the rate of inflation, the maximum tax millage must be adjusted to the same gross revenue, adjusted for inflation.
“We estimated a rollback of 2.76 percent, so we would give back almost three percent of last year’s millage amounts, or a reduction in property taxes by about $1.2 million,” Theis said. “Now, everything is pointing consistently that there will be no rollback in 2023. So that $1.2 million in reduced tax revenues can be worked back into the budget, and we won’t have that reduction after recalculating.”
Overall, the township expects to collect about $26 million in general fund revenues, outpacing expenditures by about $325,000, with an ending fund balance of $15.7 million by March 31. Theis also updated interest earnings received by the township by $125,000, adding in state shared revenues by $225,000 from the previous year.
“Having two or three more months of trends and seeing where T-bills and money markets are going, I’m confident we will have a similar year of earnings next year,” Theis said.
Trustees also discussed how to spend about $4.4 million in federal funds the township will receive through the American Rescue Plan Act, also known as ARPA. The funds must be spent by the end of 2024, and used in accordance with federal guidelines.
Among the potential ARPA projects discussed were developing a strategic plan for the township, as well as undertaking a groundwater study.
“We may not have the kinds of incidents or crises that other parts of the country have, but one of the things they say we are going to have is increasingly more water in terms of rain and snow and all of that,” said Bloomfield Township Treasurer Brian Kepes. “We have had areas where it is impacting the township, and I … suggest we ought to put a Chapter 20 drain study (in the budget) and it be addressed.”
Trustees agreed that a drain study should be done in the future, but were unsure on the overall cost and feasibility of the longterm project. However, all trustees supported the development of a strategic plan. However, whether such a plan relies on the federal ARPA funds was not determined.
“The strategic plan is so important, and had 100 percent support,” said Bloomfield Township Supervisor Dani Walsh. “It makes me nervous to delay it because of ARPA discussions when we have the funds available. I would ask it be included in the budget so we can plan for it.”
Walsh said prior to committing ARPA funds, the township will undertake a resident survey and a study session with the full board of trustees in March. Final determinations will be made after receiving input by the public.