Miller addresses WFBA on the state of the township

FLINT TWP. — Running short of funds, casino approval and a township name change were among issues addressed by Supervisor Karyn Miller who was the guest speaker last week at the monthly meeting of the West Flint Business Association.

Miller’s “State of the Township” presentation mostly rehashed anticipated revenue shortfalls by 2016 that townships officials are grappling with but questions from the audience turned the discussion to the status of a potential casino on Indian-owned land in the township and ongoing interest in changing the name of the township.

Miller said she would support a casino in the township if it proves to be financially beneficial to the township in terms of jobs and revenue. But she declined to offer an opinion on the morality of legalized gambling, crime and other common objections to casinos.

“I don’t think the township can regulate morals and ethics,’’ she said.

She explained a pending lawsuit on the legality of a casino in Western Michigan that could effect the Flint Township situation, depending on a court ruling. She said the township has not had contact from the Bay Mills Indian Community, which owns the potential casino property at Dutcher and Lennon roads. Township approval probably is not needed, according to interpretations of current local and state laws, she said.

Miller said there’s been off-and-on talk about a name-change for the township in part to dissociate itself from the crime rate in the city of Flint She stressed Flint Township’s crime rate is nothing like that of Flint, which for several years has ranked among the top 10 worst in nation, according to FBI statistics.

A supportive audience member mentioned positive outcomes when a portion of Pontiac Township in Oakland County changed its name to Auburn Hills.

Miller explained a five-year-budget projection which reflects less revenue and staff reductions. Police and fire department staffing levels both are down from last year.

Budget projections through 2013 indicate continued declining revenues from taxable property value could dwindle to the same level as in 1998. The same scenario could result in a $4.1 fund balance deficit by 2016, if things remain the same as now, Miller said. She said township officers have to get creative in finding ways to meet the shortfall.

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