What’s it take to run a township? It depends
ALPENA — Townships come in various sizes and have different numbers of employees to run them.
That can make the day-to-day jobs involved in running one township very different from the jobs needed to run another.
Three township trustees from around Northeast Michigan talked to The News about those and other issues:
BIG-PICTURE, WHAT IS YOUR JOB?
Laura Hilla, treasurer, Rogers Township: “My job as township treasurer is to collect current-year summer and winter property taxes for Rogers Township in Presque Isle County. At the beginning of March, any unpaid taxes for the previous year are turned over to the county to collect and are considered delinquent.”
Robert Hosmer, trustee, Loud Township: “One of my jobs is to make sure other people are doing their jobs, like the township supervisor, clerk, and treasurer. We do the township budget and work with the public to solve issues in the township. I work for, and with, the community to make it better.”
Michele Palevich, clerk, Alpena Township: “My duties and responsibilities as township clerk include, but aren’t limited to, keeper of records, accounts payable, maintaining general ledger, meeting minutes, ordinance and oath books, payroll, benefits administrator, FOIA coordinator, voter file, and elections.”
WHAT ARE THE TOOLS YOU HAVE AT YOUR DISPOSAL TO DO THAT JOB?
Hilla: “Our township uses the BS&A computer tax software. This is the same system our county uses. Every 15 days, we do a settlement and send the funds over to the county or school to be used to pay bills. The BS&A also has tax information that anyone can access online at bsaonline.com. If you choose your county, you can access records searching by parcel number, name, or address to locate the past 20 years of your tax history. Some townships and counties charge for this access, but Presque Isle County does not, so, whenever a taxpayer needs a receipt, they can print their own from that site.”
Hosmer: “We get our meeting packet from staff, which helps us prepare for what is being discussed and considered. Good and open lines of communication with people is the best, too, though. The Michigan Association of Townships is a good resource for us, and, of course, the staff is critical in us doing our job well.”
Palevich: “Two of the most important tools I have are the BS&A software and township staff. The BS&A software is used for payroll, accounts payable, and maintaining the general ledger. The software allows us to produce revenue and expense reports, compare years, and see trends. Currently, the clerk’s office has one full-time administrative assistant helping with a long list of duties. However, during elections, staff from the water, assessing, building department and treasurer’s offices pull together. Elections are when the township’s teamwork shines brightest. I am grateful for the support I have received from the entire township board, especially for policy and procedures that make us more efficient. I am also fortunate to have the county clerk, township attorneys, and a (certified public accountant) firm, because they have been valuable resources, always making time for me.”
WHAT’S SOMETHING PEOPLE THINK YOU CAN DO BUT YOU CAN’T?
Hilla: “A township treasurer can’t change a name on the tax roll. The name is linked to the last deed of record and can only be changed with a new deed or proper form completed from the township assessor’s office.”
Hosmer: “Well, people think we can make laws, but we can’t. We can pass ordinances and enforce them, although we try not to do so often. We would rather work with the public to solve problems.”
Palevich: “I receive a lot of questions about property taxes that I forward on to the treasurer.”
Contact your townships
* Alpena Township, 989-356-0297, alpenatownship.com
* Green Township, 989-379-2238, greentownshipmi.org
* Long Rapids Township, 989-657-2095
* Maple Ridge Township, 989-356-0791
* Ossineke Township, 989-727-2771, ossineketownship.com
* Sanborn Township, 989-471-1050
* Wellington Township, 989-464-5164
* Wilson Township, 989-657-5708
Presque Isle County
* Allis Township, 989-733-2144
* Bearinger Township, 989-938-6429, bearingertownship.org
* Belknap Township, 989-884-1634, belknaptownship.org
* Bismarck Township, 989-734-2625
* Case Township, 989-733-4101
* Krakow Township, 989-306-1101, krakowtowmship.org
* Metz Township, 989-766-8087
* Moltke Township, 989-734-3904
* North Allis Township, 989-614-7332
* Ocqueoc Township, 989-733-8238
* Posen Township, 989-766-2816, posenmi.org
* Presque Isle Township, 989-595-2752, presqueisletwp.org
* Pulawski Township, 989-370-2528, pulaskitownship.org
* Rogers Township, 989-734-4240
* Albert Township, 989-786-2513, alberttownship.org
* Avery Township, 989-785-3278, averytownship.com
* Briley Township, 989-785-4050, brileytownship.com
* Hillman Township, 989-742-3096, hillmantownship.com
* Loud Township, 989-785-3263, loudtownship.com
* Montmorency Township, 989-742-3619
* Rust Township, 989-742-3535, rusttownship.com
* Vienna Township, 810-686-7580, viennatwp.com
* Alcona Township, 989-471-5004, alconatownship.com
* Caledonia Township, 989- 471-5377, caledoniatwp.net
* Curtis Township, 989 335 1014, curtistownship.com
* Greenbush Township, 989- 724-6071, greenbushtownship.com
* Gustin Township, 989- 736-8312, gustintwp.com
* Harrisville Township, 989-335-1960, harrisvilletownship.com
* Hawes Township, 989-736-8460, howestownship.com
* Haynes Township, 989-736-3650
* Mikado Township, 989-736-7721
* Millen Township, 231-357-2426, millentownship.com
* Mitchell Township, 989- 848-2401, mitchelltownship.org
About this series
Sunshine Week is an annual celebration of government transparency laws and the First Amendment and a time to advocate for more openness by those in power, from local government to the federal government.
This year, The News decided to get back to basics and asked various government leaders in Northeast Michigan to open up about their jobs and what they can and can’t do on behalf of the people they serve.
Check out The News every day this week for the latest Sunshine Week installment.