Prairie Township residents can either accept deep cuts in services or allow the township to get creative in the ways it generates revenue.

Prairie Township residents can either accept deep cuts in services or allow the township to get creative in the ways it generates revenue.

The board of trustees approved its 2011 permanent appropriations resolution at its regular meeting March 23 in the face of continuing cuts to township revenue.

Trustees noted that the proposed state budget promises more cuts to come.

"These appropriations match last year's with two exceptions," trustee Steve Kennedy said. "First, we are purchasing the Hometown Inn property, but we will get reimbursed. We will also see a 12-percent cut in funding from the state."

Recent and anticipated Local Government Fund cuts amount to a 40 to 50 percent reduction in Prairie Township's revenue from that source over the period from 2007 to 2013.

Kennedy said the township will have to quit borrowing money from its reserve fund in order to pay for maintaining roads.

The last two years, the township has borrowed $250,000 for road work.

Prairie Township's appropriations total $503,052 more than the $1.5-million amount expected in revenue for 2011. However, $365,000 is expected to be reimbursed through the sale of a portion of the Hometown Inn property.

Total appropriations include $2-million for the general fund, $5.2-million for the fire and EMS funds and $963,114 for roads and the cemetery.

Trustee Doug Stormont said that given current and future revenue reductions, road improvement projects and other township services are in jeopardy in coming years unless something is done.

"Our best chance is establishing a JEDD (Joint Economic Development District)," Kennedy said. "With the state cutting our funds 50 percent, something has got to be done."

A JEDD would only affect those people working within the JEDD district, not residents.

It is a way to redirect employee tax money back to the township instead of those tax dollars following the workers home.

With such a mechanism in place, trustees won't have to increase taxes on township residents, Stormont said.

"The community has a choice," he said. "It can either accept deep cuts in services, while not moving forward with projects to maintain safety, property values and high quality of life in Prairie Township, or it can get creative."

Trustees plan to place a JEDD on the November ballot.

The JEDD has the potential of creating a revenue stream of over $2-million annually, Kennedy said.

"We are going to leave it up to the public before we start cutting services," Kennedy said.