VALPARAISO | With the first decrease in several years in the amount of money given out for township assistance, Township Trustee Chuck Conover said he hopes the economy has turned the corner to recovery.
Conover presented his annual report to the township board Tuesday and declared the township to be in "excellent financial condition." The township started 2012 with a balance of $2.18 million and finished with a balance of $2.46 million, including just over $1 million in the fire fighting fund.
The township's rainy day fund now has $853,949 after receiving an additional $111,500, and Conover told the board he plans to add more money to the fund from the balances of unspent money from last year. State law allows the township to put up to 10 percent of the unspent money in each fund into the rainy day fund each year.
Putting money into the rainy day fund is a change from past years when money had to be taken out of it to meet the growing township assistance needs. The township provided $316,173 for needy residents in 2011, but that dropped to $282,342 in 2012.
The township had a total of 1,405 requests for assistance and provided help to 1,020 residents representing 462 households in 2012. Of those, 475 recipients received help with utility payments totaling $57,538 while 665 people in 321 households received housing assistance totaling $186,968.
One person got food assistance, 21 got medical help and seven had expenses covered for funerals, burials or cremations. The healthy cash balance means the township has not had to borrow money to meet the emergency needs of residents until tax revenue is distributed by the county.
"I hope we've seen the worst of the economic recession," Conover said.
The township's 2013 budget was approved by the state's Department of Local Government Finance. Conover said the township lost $25 million in assessed valuation from 2012, of which $15.2 million was in the unincorporated area outside the Valparaiso city limits.
The reason for the decrease was not immediately known, although Township Attorney David Hollenbeck said it could have been the result of appeals of individual properties' assessed value being settled by the county.