2022 budget approved for Niles Township

Published 4:42 pm Wednesday, December 8, 2021

NILES CHARTER TOWNSHIP — As 2021 comes to a close, the Niles Charter Township Board of Trustees is shifting its focus to next year.

The board moved to approve the township’s budget for the 2022 fiscal year, with total estimated costs of $1,926,561, an increase of $87,834 from last year.

One of the largest budget increases came from the elections department, jumping from $25,500 in 2021 to an estimated $107,390 in 2022.

Total estimated revenues next year are estimated to be $1,926,561, including $1,362,222 in shared revenue, an increase of $86,249.

“The sales tax did not suffer as much as originally anticipated,” said township clerk Terry Eull. “We did okay because we didn’t take the big hit we thought we would because of the pandemic. Sales taxes were up and helped the township maintain a decent income.”

Approximately $10,000 in additional expenses were added to the budget, including an additional $6,875 in financial requirements for Berrien County’s local road matching fund program, a per diem increase of $25 for the Planning Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals, The Board of Review and Fireman’s Park board and an increase in insurance from $300 to $500. Township Clerk Terry Eull said the total estimated revenues next year, $1,926,561, will be adjusted to match the additions using township savings.

The board moved to approve 5 percent salary increases for the supervisor, clerk, treasurer and trustee positions for the 2022 fiscal year reflected in the budget. The supervisor, clerk and treasurer salaries will increase from 27,562.50 to $28,940.63 and the trustee salary from $6,615 to $6,945.75.

The increase is in line with the board’s decision to increase the salary of township employees by 5 percent.

“We try to keep the employees up to at least the basic rate of inflation,” Eull said. “So that was a major part of that discussion. That’s a large increase, but we felt it was appropriate given the times.”

In other business, the board approved matching funds of $171,233 with the Berrien County Road Department for the county’s Local Road Matching Fund Program.

The program will allocate $1.5 million in funds to all 22 townships in Berrien County based on road mileage and population, consistent with the distribution formula used by the Michigan Department of Transportation to allocate local road funds to the 83 counties in Michigan. In order to receive local road matching funds, Niles Charter Township must match the funds on a dollar-for-dollar basis. The source of the township’s matching funds may be from its own general fund, a road millage, property owners’ special assessment contributions, or unique private/public contributions.

The Road Department shall supervise and direct road projects and shall be solely responsible for all aspects of road projects. Niles Charter Township will not be responsible for any project cost overruns unless Township attributes to a change in scope or additional pay items not included in the bid.

In further business:

  • The board approved a pay increase for Department of Public Works Manager Robert Stepien and reached an employment agreement with Katherine Kennedy as DPW office administrator. Stepien’s salary will increase $5,000 to a total of $70,000, whereas Kennedy will have a base salary of $43,000 with a $1,000 increase after six months.
  • Comcast representatives were on hand to conduct a proposal for upgrading the township’s aging phone system and installing fiber optic cables for internet access at township hall and fire departments. According to Eull, the township’s phone system is more than 30 years old and repairs can no longer be made.