Local government finance

September 5, 2020

Need Fire Equipment? Here is a Way to Find the Money!

Your township may be allowed to raise extra tax money to pay for firefighting apparatus and equipment.  That includes fire buildings. Even though township property taxes are limited by state law, the limit does not always apply to money raised for debt payments. Debt can be used to buy firefighting apparatus and equipment, and an additional tax can be levied to make the payments. Issuing bonds is expensive, but there is a cheaper way to finance firefighting apparatus and equipment. A special rule allows a township to obtain a relatively simple, cheap, loan or lease through a bank.  The term must be six years or less.  There are still a few legal hoops to jump through, including board approval, and […]
June 18, 2020

Townships May Accept Charitable Contributions

Townships can accept donations from individuals and treat them as charitable contributions. IRS will view as charitable any donation to “the United States or any state, the District of Columbia, a U.S. possession (including Puerto Rico), a political subdivision of a state or U.S. possession, or an Indian tribal government or any of its subdivisions that perform substantial government functions.” That means the contributor may deduct the amount on his or her tax return. Contributions of this kind usually come in response to a specific appeal by the Trustee for support of a particular program, but any voluntary contribution to a township can be treated as charitable. A tax deduction is allowed for contributions of physical items, such as food […]
April 27, 2020

Ten Ways to Raise Emergency Funds Fast for Your Township

Reallocate Local Income Tax (LIT) Townships generally receive a share of local income tax, and the revenue is budgeted in one or more funds.  However, the Trustee is not bound by that part of the budget.  LIT revenue can be redirected during the year.  It is ideal, but not required, to obtain a Board resolution.  The Trustee has the authority to make the reallocations.  Suppose, for example, one half of your township’s LIT is budgeted in your Township Assistance Fund, one half in the Fire Protection Fund.  The Trustee can redirect some of the LIT so that only one quarter is deposited into the Fire Protection Fund and three-quarters into the Township Assistance Fund. (What to watch out for:  the […]
January 5, 2017


It seems every few months we read about a government clerk who has siphoned off thousands of dollars. We shake our heads and ask ourselves how could that be allowed to happen, but, be honest, how do you know it is not happening right now in your own unit of government? You may answer that you know and trust your people. But the people you read about were also trusted employees until they were caught. Sadly, trust is not an accounting control. Sometimes the auditors make these discoveries, but not often. A smart crook will always leave behind convincing documents for audit purposes. Usually, when a person is caught, it is a result of an anonymous tip, a mistake on […]
January 5, 2017


There are two kinds of ghost employees – do you know which kind is more dangerous? The kind of ghost employee that gets the most publicity is the least dangerous. We have all heard of the occasional government official who puts a friend or relative on the payroll, but does not expect that person to show up and work. Obviously that is unethical and probably illegal. But it is not a danger to you, as a public official, because you already know about it. If you are doing it, you know you are doing it. Granted, you may not be aware a trusted employee may be doing some personal or political work while he is on government time. Technically, that […]