St. Clair Twp. was released from fiscal emergency Tuesday after 4½ years.
The Butler County township of 6,908 people was placed in fiscal emergency in May 2014, in response to three deficit fund balances that totaled $190,159 the prior year. The township has since eliminated those deficits, according to a followup review by the auditor’s office.
“Many local governments struggle to find a healthy balance between revenue and expenses,” Auditor of State Dave Yost said. “I applaud the citizens and leaders of St. Clair Twp. for making the sacrifices necessary to achieve that balance.”
To combat the deficits, the township generated an additional $32,000 in annual revenue by increasing the special assessment rate for street lighting.
Township officials also reduced general fund spending by $62,000 each year by reallocating salaries and benefits to different funds. An additional $2,000 in annual savings resulted from negotiations with Duke Energy to lower the electricity rate for township buildings.
The township’s fiscal picture could further improve if the Ohio Supreme Court rules in favor of the township over the city of Hamilton in a lawsuit over annexations. The high court said last summer it won’t dismiss a lawsuit St. Clair filed against Hamilton seeking money lost due to a boundary shift following annexations.
In order to be released from the state auditor’s emergency list, the township had to satisfy the following requirements:
• Adopted and implemented an effective financial accounting and reporting system
• Corrected or eliminated all of the fiscal emergency conditions; no new conditions have occurred, and it appears that, based on the five-year forecast, the township will remain out of fiscal emergency during the forecast period
• Met the major objectives of the financial recovery plan
• Prepared a five-year forecast in accordance with standards issued by the Auditor of State, and the opinion expressed by the auditor of state is “nonadverse.”
Since 2011, 21 cities, villages and townships have slipped into fiscal emergency. In the same period, the auditor’s office has released 31 local governments from the status.