NEWTON - As a Dec. 9 deadline approaches for township officials to appease State Auditor Dave Yost with a 2013 recovery plan on how it will climb out of fiscal caution, they are putting the final touches on their submission.
Fiscal Officer Susan Montgomery said the township officials will meet Friday morning with Local Government Services from the Division of the State Auditor to review the township's five-year forecast, 2012 recovery plan and a letter overviewing the township's intentions.
Montgomery said she believes all of the officials have been working well with Local Government Services.
"They're running a tight ship," Montgomery said. "There are not a lot of places to reduce expenditures."
The township's proposed recovery plan was reviewed and approved by trustees at their regular Nov. 26 meeting. The plan includes a projected annual savings of almost $34,000 and a projected annual revenue increase of $171,500.
A large portion of the revenue - $64,000 - will come from the November passage of a 0.5-mill replacement levy and the additional 0.5-mill levy passed to support the Joint Fire District, which is shared between Newton Falls Village and the township. The township had been paying much of its portion of support for the department out of its general fund since the original levy did not bring in enough.
In the first quarter of 2013, the township hopes to gain $30,000 through the leasing of property for gas and mineral rights. Township officials also hope to gain $10,000 from the legal action taken against their former township fiscal officer.
More than a third of the increased revenue is dependent on the passage of a 0.5-mill levy in 2013 for maintenance of the township's seven cemeteries, according to Montgomery. Increased opening and closing fees at the cemeteries are also expected to increase revenue.
All of the township's cost-saving changes are to occur in the first quarter of 2013. The township will save about $18,000 by taking a quarter of the trustee's wages out of the Road and Bridge Fund instead of the General Fund. The trustees justified this at their meeting by saying a quarter of the work they do is involved with roads.
The trustees also opted to pay for their own dental and vision coverage, which will save the township more than $3,000, according to Montgomery.
The township will save $2,000 by no longer offering tie-ins for ditch pipes, which they had been doing as a courtesy service. It also will be reducing the frequency of Zoning Board meetings to save $1,100.
Along with creating the plan, the township has also implemented several changes to meet the state auditor's standards. It has have switched its accounting system and submitted all requested budgets and appropriations to the Trumbull County auditor, Montgomery said.
The township is also establishing an approved purchasing system and reconciling the township's books.
The township was placed in a state of fiscal caution at the beginning of October after years of poor budgetary filings, deficit balances, and significant audit citations. Yost's office found three funds with a total deficit of $153,001 as of Dec. 31, 2011, and four funds with a total deficit of $147,967 as of April 30, 2012. Montgomery previously stated the township being put on fiscal caution was expected. She also said the information looked at was from April 2010 to 2011, before she was in office.
The township was given 60 days by Yost to comply with his office's requests. After the meeting on Friday and once any necessary amendments have been made, the plan will be submitted to the State Auditor for review.