2018-03-22 / Local News

Kasson leaders set budget

By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff

NEWLY RENOVATED bathrooms at the Kasson Township hall were available for use Saturday at the annual township meeting. NEWLY RENOVATED bathrooms at the Kasson Township hall were available for use Saturday at the annual township meeting. Continued support for the fire department and school safety were discussed Saturday during the Kasson Township annual meeting.

Chief Chris Comeaux of Cedar Area Fire & Rescue introduced himself to Kasson Township Board members and a half-dozen who showed up for the annual rite of spring.

Kasson is one of four townships served by the department.

“We’ve been meeting with Glen Lake (school) officials and Sheriff Borkovich to have an action plan in place if something were to happen,” Comeaux said. “We’re doing what we can on our part.”

Comeaux, the department’s first-ever full-time chief, was hired in January to replace part-time chief Dan Petroskey, who retired.

On the job since February, much of his work in the past six weeks has focused on a survey of department equipment.

“Most of our equipment is antiquated and doesn’t meet NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) standards” Comeaux said

NFPA advises that after 15 years equipment should be in ‘reserve’ status and retired after 25 years.

“We’re going to have a lot of capital expenses in the next five years,” Comeaux said. “We need the equipment to keep our guys safe and the community safe.”

The importance of fire and safety is reflected in the township’s 2018-19 budget, adopted during a special meeting of the township board following the annual meeting.

However, unlike this time last year, the township won’t be pulling from its general fund to cover its single largest budget item.

Voters approved a .75-mill levy in August to support its annual contribution toward fire department operations and equipment.

This year anticipated revenue reflects the new revenue source. Some $352,325 in revenue is expected in 2018-19, up from $215,000 this year.

The board has earmarked $172,140 to cover the township’s contribution toward the Cedar department.

Of this, $152,800 will go toward department operations. The remainder is for future equipment purchase for the department which covers Centerville, Cleveland and Solon Townships in addition to Kasson.

State shared revenue accounts for the next largest source of funds for the township, which is expected to come in at $124,000 during the new budget year which begins April 1.

The township’s allocated millage is expected to generate $65,590, up slightly from $65,000 this year. This includes about $2,000 which will be generated through a 1 percent tax administration fee approved by the board Saturday.

Total general fund expenses for the coming year total $201,430.

This includes about $50,000 identified for maintenance at the township hall.

“This will be used for equipment, roof repairs and clearing out old dying timber from the site of the township hall,” Supervisor Greg Julian said. “We don’t get a lot of sunlight and that doesn’t help our roof.”

In addition, the 2018-19 budget includes money for improvements at the Kasson Township Park, located in Maple City.

The Township received used playground equipment from Glen Arbor Township which is working on park improvements of its own.

Some $7,400 is earmarked next year for repairs and maintenance of the park as well as professional and contracted services, up $3,000 from the 2017-18 budget.

Township residents offered no comment on $1,500 in salary increases outlined during the 2018-19 budget review. As a result, $500 increases were approved for the township supervisor, from $10,000 to $10,500 and $13,500 to $14,000 for both the clerk and treasurer.

“Funds have also been identified in the budget for additional training for elected and appointed officials,” the supervisor said. “It doesn’t matter if you’ve been in the position for 20 years, there’s always something you can learn.”

The estimated general fund balance at the end of the 2018-19 year is estimated at $275,000, clerk Cruz said.

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