Sutherland says Howard could cut more from budget

Published 9:55 am Wednesday, March 31, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Howard Township supervisor Michael Sutherland said he chose to vote against the township's proposed 2004-2005 budget because he thinks more cuts could have been made without affecting the big picture.
In an interview on Tuesday, Sutherland said the budget approved by the Howard Township board on Monday night is a good budget, but thinks it could have been better.
Sutherland said he did not want to discuss the specifics of the cuts he thinks are possible because he has not yet talked to the board about them, but did say a majority of the possible cuts were in the budgets for the fire department and township hall.
Of the five board members present, Sutherland was the only one to vote against the budget. George Johnson and Mike Richmond were not present at Monday night's meeting.
Sutherland's vote came as a surprise to some of the other trustees on the board.
Howard Township treasurer Amy Archer was surprised and said she had discussed the budget with Sutherland as recently as Friday with no indication that he was going to vote it down.
Sutherland apparently expressed none of his concerns about the budget while working with the board to help create the budget he voted against on Monday.
Sutherland said he had not made a final decision until late Monday afternoon.
He said he received a final copy of the budget on Friday and then looked it over on Sunday and Monday. After crunching some numbers on Monday, he concluded there was still some room for improvement.
He found that if you simply looked at revenues and expenditures, without using last year's budget surplus or any other source of funding, the budget was over by $109,000.
Sutherland said he would not run a business with a this kind of deficit, so he did not want to run the township like that either.
In response to Archer's claim that his vote was an attempt to cater to the watchdog group, Sutherland said he is not associated with the group and his decision was based purely on what he thought was best for the township.
Sutherland said hearing members of the small watchdog group voice their opinions at Monday night's meeting, did reinforce his thinking that the budget could be improved, but said he could not be influenced by such a small majority of the township's population.
Sutherland said he is going to make an effort to have better communication with the other board members in the future.