Williamstown Township approves proposed 2008 budget

The proposed 2008 budget for Williamstown Township was approved by the township board at their Jan. 22 meeting, but is still in the process of being finalized.

The budget is still open to change and will be available to the public for input before it is finalized in March.

“There are three more meetings before finalization. The public can comment and there may be an outcry, but most of the time there is not,” said Township Clerk Howard Dahlstrom.

The Parks and Recreation Committee plans on marking off the area around the Williamstown Township Community Park with new wooden posts in order to stop any vandalism. The committee takes care of the Community Park for residents to make it a welcoming place. The committee is made up of volunteers, and the response to the committee has been positive, according to board members.

The Historical Committee seeks to promote historical sites within the township and has been restoring the Branch School. The school was built in 1863 and was in use until 1961. It was slated for demolition in 1973, but local residents joined together to save the building. The committee is currently in the process of putting in a septic field to build a public restroom.  The septic field project is 90 percent complete. The idea of keep the outhouse was mentioned to keep the historic feel, but it was turned down because it is against county rules.

The Cemetery Committee is in the process of building three column bariums, similar to an urn house, at the cemetery because of the popularity of cremation. The money they are issued in their budget will be made back through sales of the first site and the second and third column bariums sales will be profit for the group.

The Cable Commission, which is mandated by the state, received a significant increase to their budget for more meetings and to improve communication and telecommunication for residents. The Cable Commission oversees the contract with a cable company that provides television and internet to residents.

The current cable contract serves 40 percent of township resident that live in subdivisions. It does not provide service to more rural homes.

The commission is in the process of contracting with a wireless company so all residents can receive Internet. The money provided by the board is predicted to be made back in sales over five years.

“The wireless Internet will be able to cover the whole township and would be a re-investment from out current cable contract,” said Dahlstrom.

The board also discussed changing the name of the Cable Commission because of confusion caused by the commission also being responsible for Internet and other means of communication.

The only budget concern, brought up by Trustee Frans Wilbrink, was the pay increase for Township Sexton Mark Tabor.

Tabor is the township’s only full-time employee. He is in charge of the cemetery and is also the maintenance man responsible for maintaining the parks and the township office. The 2008 budget gives all township employees, including Tabor, a 2.3 percent pay increase.  The Cemetary Committee also budgeted an additional $1,000 raise for Tabor.

Wilbrink said Tabor’s work is worth the money, but said it was not fair to the other employees and he thinks they will raise concerns.

“This wouldn’t help the morale of other employees,” said Wilbrink.

Dahlstrom said that with Tabor’s combined salaries, the township is close to paying $40,000 for a sexton and maintenance man, which he thinks is too much.

After three more meetings and public comment the budgets will be finalized in March. The committees and commission will be able to start their planned projects for the township.

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