Budget message: A Conservative Approach Yields Large Returns

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Every four years, the Meridian Township voters are faced with Township Board elections. With the draft budget before the current board next Tuesday, I want to take this moment to acknowledge some of the major fiscal accomplishments that have benefited the residents of Meridian Township.

The current Township Board has worked collectively to respond rapidly to two major storms (December 21, 2013 and July 8, 2016), ongoing management of the Chronic Wasting Disease and increasing the general fund balance by $1,300,000. Maintaining unparalleled public safety has been the hallmark of this Board. Since 2012, the Board allocated funds to purchase all new turnout gear for the fire department and body worn cameras for the police department. Additionally, they responded to the call for school safety with improvements on Kinawa Drive near Chippewa Middle School.

Thanks to the voters in Meridian Township the new Central Fire Station opened on February 1, 2016. Plans are in place this year for each of the three fire stations to be equipped with an ambulance. The safety of our residents is of utmost importance.

Our park system is well known throughout the region and state as the model to reach for. We salute the outstanding relationship between our voters, the Park Commission and the Township Board. Over the past 4 years, the Meridian Township parks system has reached new heights. With the improvements to Brattin Woods Park, Central Park, Ferguson Park, Hartrick Park, Hillbrook Park, Nancy Moore Park, North Meridian Road Park, Newton Road Park, Orlando Park, Wonch Park, and the Harris Nature Center and Meridian Historical Village; Meridian Township Parks have become a destination for visitors.

With the exception of the Central Fire Station, all of this was accomplished with no tax increases and no additional debt burden for our taxpayers.

We have our ongoing challenges; however, at every turn we stepped up to the plate and worked as a group to provide first-rate customer service and an overwhelmingly compassionate response during our two major storms. The governing body found a way to commit a $1,000,000 in additional funding to the MERS pension fund and increased local road funding by $100,000 per year. Addressing increased pensions will be continued challenge facing us in the years ahead.

The 2017 draft budget is being presented before the Township Board on September 6. The Township Board should be acknowledged and thanked for their passion, loyalty and exemplary public service to the community these past four years. The public is invited and welcomed to attend the Township Board Budget Meeting on Tuesday, September 6, 2016 at 6:00 p.m. Read the recommended 2017 budget proposal available online.

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