November 24, 2014

Sims board mulls combining gypsy moth, mosquito millages

Discusses computer software upgrades

Posted

SIMS TWP. — The Sims Township board is looking into the possibility of replacing the mosquito and gypsy moth millages with a general pest control one, and combining the collected funds in both accounts in the process.

Supervisor Robert Quackenbush brought up the idea after a discussion on renewing the township’s mosquito control contract with Advanced Pest Management. He said the township is sitting on money in the gypsy moth fund that has been collected in the event of an outbreak; meanwhile, due to dropping SEVs the township is looking at deficit spending for its mosquito control program.

Quackenbush’s proposal would combine the saved-up funds from both accounts and allow the township to use them for general pest control.

“We’re sitting on this money, and it’s not benefitting the township,” he said. “This would get flexibility for the moths, and flexibility for mosquito control.”

He said he is still waiting to hear from the circuit court to see if the township could actually do that, but if so, he would like to see a ballot proposal in 2014 for just that reason.

Clerk Wanda Boley said that if every property owner in the township paid the winter tax bill on time, it would come out in the $70-$80,000 range for the mosquito control millage.

In contrast, the proposed budgets for mosquito control service are $84,282 for 2013, $85,967 in 2014, $87,687 in 2015, and $89,440 in 2016, though APM representative Chuck Mullins said the company was willing to work with the township on the costs.

The township board approved another four-year contract with APM for mosquito control in a 4-0 vote. Trustee Rod Francis was absent.

While the mosquito control fund has approximately $170,000 banked at the moment, Boley noted the township has not used the funds for this year’s spraying program yet.

Mullins said spraying the mosquito populations over the past eight years has substantially reduced their numbers in Sims Township. Last year the company sprayed about 1,824 acres in Sims by air, with another 187 acres on foot.

The company also tests mosquitos for diseases such as West Nile, and if discovered, they would alert officials to the threat. Mullins added that the company has come in under budget for the past three years.

In other township news, the board discussed, and ultimately tabled, the proposal to upgrade the township’s computer software, which could be used for tax collection, general accounting, water bills, payroll, among other areas.

The proposal from BS&A Software would upgrade all of the township’s programs, allow them to store data off-site, and automate some functions, Quackenbush said. Treasurer Grace Pichan said it would alleviate the treasurer’s workload and allow residents to pay bills from their own computers or directly from their checking accounts.

However, the sticker shock from the proposal — $40,000 total for the software, receipt printer, training and support — held up any deal on the issue. Quackenbush said he would get back in touch with BS&A Software to see if it could be adjusted to reduce the cost.

In response to audience members who pointed out Pichan had received a $3,000 raise to her yearly salary at February’s meeting, she said she has been pulling nearly 10 hour days roughly six or seven days a week to get the township’s financial records in order. She added that she has a mathematics degree and accountant training, but the work is still time-consuming.

She said both for future treasurers and the township as a whole, the board will need to update their computer software in the near future.

“We can’t keep using the same old systems,” she said. “We need to move forward.”

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