Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

October 23, 2012

Harrison Twp. eyes dipping into reserves

Township set to run out of money soon

By Scott Smith
Tribune staff writer

Kokomo — Faced with the likelihood the township will run out of money next year, Harrison Township officials are considering dipping into their dwindling reserve funds.

Last week township officials indicated they will vote Nov. 5 whether to move $32,000 out of an investment account.

Harrison Township Trustee Joyce Ancil said the money may be used for a number of purposes, but the township is running low right now on funds for poor relief.

The move comes as annexation and overspending have put the township in a precarious spot.

Next year, unless state officials allow a significant tax increase, the township’s revenues only are expected to fund about half of Ancil’s proposed budget. Ancil has a proposed budget of $235,000 next year, but county officials estimate she’ll receive about $118,000 to fund that budget, leaving her with a $117,000 deficit.

Unfortunately for township officials, it doesn’t appear the township will make it through the present year without spending down reserves.

Ancil said Monday she didn’t know offhand how much the township will have left if it spends an additional $32,000 over and above this year’s budget.

But the township’s last audit, for the years 2009-10, showed a little more than $100,000 in reserve.

And while the township was deficit spending prior to the annexation, losing 46 percent of the tax base has exacerbated an already serious problem.

“Our poor relief costs have gotten so high, I don’t think we’ll have enough,” she said.

Ancil said the township wanted to consider consolidation with the other townships within the Western school district, but couldn’t get Honey Creek and Monroe townships to go along.

In eastern Howard County, Jackson, Liberty and Union townships have agreed to a referendum question on the November ballot. Ervin, Howard and Clay townships have also agreed to a referendum.

Consolidation could save Harrison Township taxpayers from having to bear the brunt of the trustee’s revenue problems.

According to the Howard County Assessor’s Office, the tax rate for fire protection in Harrison Township is supposed to increase by 89 percent next year, going from about 5.2 cents per $100 to 9.7 cents per $100.

* Scott Smith can be reached at (765) 454-8569 or at scott.smith@kokomotribune.com