Residents Question $1.6 Million Transfer
(posted Apr 10)
Taxpayers, including Clermont residents, filled the Wayne Township Small
Claims courtroom Thursday night to question the township board's action
to transfer $1,675,696 to the rainy day fund. The board and township trustee
came under taxpayer scrutiny during the April 9 public hearing to move
money from the fire territory fund.
CPA Curtis Coonrod was surprised that his recommendation to move the money
from the dormant fire territory fund to the rainy day fund became such
a controversial item for taxpayers. He said ordinarily most taxpayers do
not like to see money in dormant funds. Prior to the meeting, the proposal
created a media frenzy over speculation of what would happen to the money.
Coonrod advised the township to make the additional appropriation since
the fire territory was dissolved in 2007 and the money could no longer
be spent. He said the money could be moved to the rainy day fund where
the board could spend it on debt, fire protection, or public assistance.
Public notice would be required if the board decided to spend the $1.6
million from the rainy day fund. "I am giving you my word on that,"
Township Trustee David Baird said. He said that dormant funds cannot be
counted as assets, so the money has to be moved from the fire territory
Discerning taxpayers were not convinced that the transfer approved by the
board would not cost them more money in the long term.
According to Board member Lisa Bentley, the board took similar action last
year in moving $1.5 million. She said the $1.6 million needs to be moved
to the rainy fund to offset the fire levy in 2010.
Resident Charles Davis was not convinced that once the money was spent
from the rainy day fund that residents would not be taxed again.
Deputy Trustee Lynn McWhirter explained people cannot be taxed to support
the rainy day fund. She said it is not the intent of the board or trustee
to use the funds for anything other than fire protection.
Davis said "You can tax us for other things like $1.5 million for
the fire department or $1.5 million for whatever because you no longer
have the $1.5 million in the rainy day fund because you have spent it."
Clermont Town Attorney Robert Lutz said the fire territory resolution contained
a provision that if the fire territory was dissolved, the money would be
distributed pro-rata after the bills are paid. He thinks Clermont's share
is about $7,600. Wayne Township and Clermont dissolved the fire territory
Grant Price wanted the money to be used for the township assistance fund.
Coonrod said that option was not in the resolution because not all Wayne
Township residents were taxed for the fire protection territory.
One resident was "shocked" that the fire department employs 137
firefighters and 28 EMS personnel. He said he hoped the additional appropriation
is not going to be used to increase their wages.
The board's resolution also requires Department of Local Government Finance
approval before the board can take further action with the money.