General Fund Loans Transferred to Parks Fund in the Community
MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP - The Meridian Township Board held a virtual meeting on Tuesday, December 8th to discuss a short term loan transfer from the general fund to the parks fund. Parks and Recreation Director LuAnn Maisner were present, as well as Finance Director Miriam Mattison, to discuss a short term loan from the general fund to the parks fund.
This year a total of $3.6 million has been spent on the following park projects: the Gateway Foot Bridge, the restroom in the Historical Village. The Central Meridian Regional Trail Connector Project, which is a paved trail through Central Park with the boardwalk, a fishing overlook dock in the Central Park South Pond, the Pavilion and restroom project at the Harris Nature Center and of course, Marketplace on the Green.
Director Maisner says, “All these projects, with the exception of the Marketplace, were funded by state and federal grants. These grant programs require communities to pay all the upfront costs and then submit for reimbursement. At this point, all of these projects were budgeted for this year. Right now we’re caught in a timing issue of not receiving our grant reimbursements before the end of this year. We have a total of $522,500 in reimbursements due to us. As we look into next year, our revenues over expenses for park millage was about $350,000. In early 2021, we will receive the grant funds and have our money to work with in 2021, but in the short term at the end of the year, we are requesting some short term funding assistance from the general fund.”
Finance Director Mattison added, “The money has to go out before they reimburse us and part of it too is our accounting methods. We have to recognize all the costs in our books this year because of everything that has been expended. We will be receiving as people pay their taxes that millage money is coming in and don't really think it’s going to be a cash issue, it’s more of a fund issue balance we don’t wanna be in a deficit situation at year end."
Meridian Township Treasurer Phil Deschaine moved the motion to transfer $700,000 to the park millage fund from the general fund to cover a temporary budget shortfall in the year of 2020. There was support from Trustee Dan Opsommer, Trustee Patricia Jackson and Township Clerk Deborah Guthrie.
Treasurer Deschaine thanked Director Maisner and her staff for securing the grants, as well as the Park Commission for actively pursuing $522,500 in grants. “If the park millage hadn’t been passed in 2015, we wouldn’t be in the game and have the matching funds of $350,000. We're getting a huge return of 150% on the park millage funds because of the adept work of our parks staff.”
Clerk Guthrie also thanked Director Maisner and her staff saying, “It’s not only beautiful, the former pathway that led to the former farmers’ market to the Historical Village was in a disarray and you could barely walk on it if you were disabled. I’m very appreciative of this upgrade and having the restroom in that area and having a paved trail connector in Central Park. It’s some place where someone who has accessibility issues, it’s very important so I’m very appreciative of these upgrades to our parks, it’s fantastic.”