All good news for Macomb in audit report

By: Robert Guttersohn | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published January 9, 2013

MACOMB TOWNSHIP — After nearly 900 hours of poring over the township’s financial records, auditors said at the Dec. 26 Board of Trustees meeting that there is likely no community in better fiscal shape than Macomb.

“Quite frankly, I don’t know of a community that’s in better financial condition than Macomb Township,” Mark Hurst, an auditor from consulting firm Plante & Moran, told the board. “I would be shocked if you could find one.”

From its rainy-day fund to its prefunding of legacy costs, auditors deemed Macomb’s records as excellent for 2012.

Macomb, he said, has been able to sidestep some of the fiscal problems ailing other communities.

“The township has been able to keep them at bay or make decisions that have stepped around them,” Hurst said.

One issue hurting the budgets of other communities has been declining property values, but Macomb is not as dependent as its peers are on property tax for funding its operations.

Only $1.9 million of Macomb’s $11 million general fund comes from property taxes, while $6.2 million comes from revenue sharing from the state.

“In comparison, other cities are 60 percent dependent on property-tax revenues,” Hurst said. “Your state shared revenue is three times as much as you bring in property tax.”

Township Clerk Michael Koehs said the level of revenue sharing Macomb receives from the state is fixed in the state constitution, protecting that revenue stream from the decisions of the state legislator.

“This is constitutional money, which means it has to be delivered,” he said. “That’s what we try to fund the majority of our stuff with.”

While legacy costs have become a huge issue in other communities, Macomb has set aside money for its funding, Hurst reported.

“You have defined contribution plans, not defined benefit plans,” he said. “It really eliminates a lot of exposure, and that exposure is really hurting a lot of other communities.”

Additionally, while the audit report was positive, Koehs said the township’s leaders must stay diligent on keeping down costs. He said in the past, Macomb has done this by examining where they can cut funding and where they need to increase expenditures.

“When we were in the boom times, we spent a lot of money on anything that had to do with the construction-side of things,” Koehs said. “And when that dropped off, we curtailed that type of expenditure.”

Last year, the township spent a lot of money on road paving. This year, Koehs said, sidewalks could be next.