SYLVANIA TOWNSHIP FISCAL – HOT TOPICS
Sylvania Township’s fiscal officer, David Simko told trustees at their most recent meeting that it is likely the township can save some money if they refinance bonds which were issued for fire station construction.
He said the bonds run until 2030 and at a refinanced rate, the township could save a total of about $180,000. That savings, he said, would include adjusting for any costs incurred in refinancing. Mr. Simko noted that it would mean about $12,000 annually.
John Crandall, a trustee, said he would like to see the savings earmarked specifically for the fire department. He asked Mr. Simko to meet with the fire chief to determine where the funds could best be applied.
Mr. Simko said he wasn’t yet prepared to ask for a resolution from the trustees, “but the decision will ultimately be up to you. I just wanted to let you know what is likely coming.”
During 2011 Sylvania Township became a member of the International County / City Management Association (ICMA) Center for Performance Measurement. This organization gathers data from participating units of government and compiles Performance Measurements for all aspects of government operations. These categories include Police, Fire, Fleet Management, Highway Maintenance, Code Violations, Risk Management, Human Resources, Stability and many other categories. Once all the data has been submitted, spreadsheets will be developed by ICMA and published. The Township will be able to look at its results and benchmark itself against similar entities throughout the country to see where we are performing at a high level and where we need to improve our operations. This information should be available in late June for the Calendar Year 2011. This is the first year the Township has participated in the endeavor and we are looking forward to the results. The Township hopes to make this an annual endeavor so we can compare previous year’s results with the current year.
During 2011 Sylvania Township made a decision to upgrade its current accounting system from the system that was installed in the 1990’s. The new system has been purchased from Software Solutions (Current Vendor) and training on the system is currently in process. The new system will allow us access through the internet, thus making it much easier to get information wherever you may be, as long as you have internet access. The new system will allow us to review and dig deeper into expenses with the ultimate goal to look at an expense and drill down to an actual copy of the invoice and its approvals. It enhances the reporting of data with the ability to add and subtract columns of information easily. Department managers will be able to electronically approve requisitions and invoices. The ability to approve items using their smart phones will allow managers to not be tied down to their offices. Managers will be able to view the work flow of requisitions and invoices electronically. They will be able to re-direct a requisition for someone else to review before approving or denying that request. Bids on contracts or other purchases will be able to be attached to requests for purchase (requisition) so everything will be visible without having to go thru lots of paper. We are very excited about the new system and feel that it will be another tool to be more efficient and productive.
Revenue Challenges facing the Township
The Sylvania Township Board of Trustees and Department Heads face an ever changing picture in terms of Revenue. Over the past few years both the State and Local Revenue outlook has taken a rather dismal direction. During 2011 the State passed legislation phasing out the Township’s portion of the Commercial Activity Tax. The commercial activity tax (CAT) is an annual tax imposed on the privilege of doing business in Ohio, measured by gross receipts from business activities in Ohio. They had originally proposed phasing out the Tax over the next 7-8 years however they changed in the middle of 2011 and phased out revenue for the year 2011 over previously published amounts and eliminated it entirely in 2013. The Township went from revenue collected in 2010 of $986,653.56 to $561,280.24 in 2011 to $193,682.00 in 2012. These monies were distributed between the Funds who collect Real Estate Taxes (General, Road & Bridge, Police, Fire & Senior Levy Funds). Although the State has eliminated sending monies to the Townships for the CAT Tax, they still continue to collect the tax from business located within the Township.
The State also eliminated the Estate Tax beginning January 1, 2013. From funds collected on the estate tax, Townships such as Sylvania received 80% of the monies and the State kept the 20%. Sylvania Township received Estate Tax Revenues over the last five years ranging from a low of $798,505.00 to a high of $2,957,580.00. As you can see this will have a big effect on what we can offer the citizens of Sylvania Township in services such as Christmas Tree Pickup, Large Item pickup, Brush pickup and Leaf Pickup, all services that the residents of Sylvania Township currently enjoy.
Add the above situations to the fact that property tax values are decreasing for 2012 (to be collected in 2013) and you can envision why the Board of Trustees and Department Heads are facing a challenging situation. They continue to look at ways to strike a balance between providing taxpayers with quality services and an ever decreasing revenue picture.
Past Fiscal Department HOT TOPICS
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