State of the Township Message from Trustee Chair Rick Clark
Howland Township residents:
The 2008 year was a challenging for township government. Your township trustees' and administrator's goals and directives set the tone for the development of the annual budget. Meeting with the various department heads, the board identifies priorities, issues, and projects that will provide the direction and framework for the budget.
This past year, the budget proved to be particularly challenging due to a reduction in income from revenue sharing and personal property tax on inventories and equipment. Additionally, there is a $1,600,000 delinquency in property taxes of which the township relies on 20 percent.
The use of funding from other sources such as Issue II and various grants demonstrates Howland's ability to expand the diversity of its funding sources. Additionally, the fiscal officer, Mr. Delaquila, and his assistant, Vivian McDowell, have worked diligently to manage our cash on hand and in 2008 earned $90,085.38 interest for the township.
We try to forecast revenues in a conservative manner so as not to be surprised at the end of the year. This past year the township had a cash balance of $2,748.868.
A budget represents an annual funding plan which responds to the needs of the township while maximizing a limited resource of funds. While most needs are identified, some cannot be and we must react accordingly. Items such as black-top and road salt that have doubled in price in the past years are items that cannot be predicted.
Prudent management by the trustees and administrator and extraordinary co-operation from the department heads and employees enables us to be debt free at this time.
During 2008, the South-Rays Watershed and the Fairhill-Shafer Storm Sewer projects were completed at a cost of $343,000. Also, we expect to commence work on the Venice Heights Phase I and II Watershed Improvement project and the South Bolindale Watershed Improvement project for a total cost of $365,000. We also expect a Community Development Block Grant for the West Bolindale Sanitary Sewer Improvement project totaling $1,874,873.
In 2008, we received grants for Morgandale Park renovation, scrap tire removal, juvenile diversion, Christmas tree pickup, police training, and fire Department turn-out gear.
Also the Cemetery Expansion Project Phase I was completed, additional property was acquired for future expansion, and the first phase of the Wetlands Boardwalk was completed in conjunction with the Trumbull County Planning Commission and the Mahoning River Consortium.
Due to the cooperation of all the township employees and hard work by the administrator, the past three years Howland has saved 24 percent per year for health insurance costs, and because there have been no lost-time injuries we were able to participate in a workers' compensation group plan saving 50 to 60 percent annually in liability cost the past five years.
Additionally during 2008, 4.1 miles of township roads were paved, we continued to fund the Niles-Trumbull Transit System, provided spring and fall limb and branch pick-up, leaf pickup, mosquito spraying five times, and established a free curbside recycling program with Allied Waste Corp. In conjunction with Howland Schools, the police department provides a school resource officer.
Residents' tax dollars also enabled the township to purchase needed equipment in the various departments. Through the state co-op purchasing plan, the police department acquired three Chevrolet Impala cruisers; the zoning department a Chevrolet Blazer; Public Works, two Vermeer chippers; and the fire department, a Pierce Custom Pumper.
Howland is not immune from national economic cycles and we are vigilant in maintaining contact with the businesses in our community. We are the only township to have a seat on the Port Authority Advisory Board, have assisted 12 industrial properties in obtaining sanitary sewers in the Golden Triangle in exchange for no-annexation agreements, negotiated lower cost natural gas for residential and small business customers, and have provided tax abatements for Companies expanding or adding jobs in Howland, to name a few initiatives.
Finally, as I write this article, we have asked all the department heads to reduce their 2009 budgets by no less than 5 percent. Your township trustees' job in this environment is to budget conservatively, meet the immediate needs of the residents, and carefully and strategically think about the future.
Rick G. Clark