State auditor’s office asks Madison Twp. to submit financial recovery plan by

MADISON TOWNSHIP ─ The financial condition of Madison Township needs to be improved immediately, according to Ohio State Auditor Keith Faber’s office.

Nita Hendryx, chief project manager at the state auditor’s office, shared a three-year financial forecast with township trustees at a special meeting on Friday afternoon. The report includes numbers from actual financial statements from 2018 to 2020 and estimates for 2021 to 2023.

Madison Township has been in fiscal caution since 2012. Hendryx said the township needs to have a “good” financial forecast to get out of the fiscal distress.

According to the forecast provided by the state auditor’s office, the township will keep seeing deficit spending in general fund and road funds in the next three years if no actions are taken.

The township will likely have a deficit spending of $26,251 in the general fund this year, according to Hendryx, bringing down to $95,459. The decrease is more than 20 percent when compared with that of 2020.

The state auditor’s office projected that Madison Township’s general fund will go down to $35,500 at the end of 2023.

“Based on this trend, we all can see what’s going to happen. You’re going to end up deficit spending to where you don’t have any balance,” Hendryx said.

The report also said the township would be deficit spending by about $71,000 this year, $81,000 next year and $92,000 in 2023 in road funds. In addition, the total amount would decrease from more than $550,000 to about $376,000 within three years.

The fire funds are in a better situation. Hendryx said the deficit spending is likely to be seen only this year by close to $223,000 due to the increase in salaries and benefits.

Hendryx said it is time for Madison Township to figure out ways to stop the negative trend, such as getting additional revenue or reducing expenditures.

“We want to see that turned around. We want to see positive variances instead of negative,” she said.

She asked the township to start working on an updated financial recovery plan. It also has to contain a plan for purchases in the next couple of years — if the township needs to buy a plow truck, for example, the plan should include the truck’s price and how the township will pay for it.  

Hendryx said the state auditor’s office would love to receive the recovery plan by September 10, which will give Madison Township 60 days to work and vote on it. And the office can update the three-year forecast.

Chairman Trustee Jim Houser said the township will start to work on the plan and discuss it in future meetings.

At the end of the meeting, township fiscal officer Leanna Rhodes said the trustees are considering putting an operating levy on the ballot this year to help the general fund. She asked Hendryx whether half or one mill would be appropriate.

The chief project manager said it depends on how much one mill can bring in. In her opinion, the township needs at least another $30,000 to $35,000 for its general fund. Township Trustee Cathy Swank said one mill should generate about $167,000, according to Richland County auditor’s office.   

Rhodes told Richland Source the operating levy was suggested by Hendryx. She said the money generated by the levy will go to the general fund and can also be transferred to road funds or fire funds when needed.

Swank said in previous trustees’ meetings that she is working on a road levy mainly for replacing old equipment in the road department.

On Friday, Rhodes said the trustees are considering the operating levy instead because the use is more flexible.

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