Howard Township board OKs budget; new supervisor lone no vote

Published 9:44 am Tuesday, March 30, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- The Howard Township Board of Trustees voted 4-1 to adopt its 2004-2005 budget on Monday night.
Recently-elected township supervisor Michael Sutherland was the only board member to vote against the approval of the proposed budget of $774,446, down from last year's budget of $853,320.
Before the vote, Sutherland told the audience of about 20 township residents that he had only been in his position for a month and was not completely comfortable with the proposed budget. He said if he is not re-elected he will only be in the supervisor position for eight months and does not want to be responsible for any future financial troubles. "We need to start being fiscally responsible now, before the money runs out," he said. "We can't wait until the money is gone and then be forced to make major cuts."
Sutherland thinks there is currently some "pork and fluff" that could be trimmed from the budget and that it may not be in the best interest of the township.
Howard Township board members Shirley Tuttle, clerk, and Amy Archer, treasurer, said they worked hard to create a fiscally responsible budget. "We worked hard together as a board to come up with this budget," Tuttle said. "I think it is a very good working budget."
Archer said she thinks Sutherland's no vote was simply a campaigning effort to make the watchdog group happy.
Sutherland said the township received $500,000 from the proposed Indeck Energy power plant deal two years ago and there is currently about $227,000 of that money remaining. He said the township anticipates making some major cuts when the Indeck money runs out and wants to postpone the time when the township "hits the wall" for as long as possible.
In other business, the board reappointed Howard Township fire chief Ronald Fazi and renewed its contracts with the Cass County Sheriff's Department, building and mechanical inspector Dave Swanstrom, electrical inspector Russ Meyers, plumbing inspector Ed Wainwright and assessor Jerry Thibodeau.
The board also voted to approve the township's insurance carrier Western Insurance Agency, auditor Jim Scarpone and attorneys Bauckman, Sparks, Rolfe, Lohrstorfer &Thall.