Fiscal Health in Rural Communities: A Case Study of Pine River Township, Michigan

This case study examines the fiscal health of Pine River Township, Michigan, a mostly rural community in central Michigan, using data from the Township’s audited financial reports. We find that Pine River Township has a sizable and growing General Fund balance, suggesting good alignment between revenues and expenditures. The Township’s strengths also include minimal liabilities and ample cash reserves. Looking forward, the Township should keep an eye on depreciation and ensure that it is prioritizing investment in capital assets, including roads and the sewer system. This case study also highlights other factors—including financial implications of wind farm development and contamination in the Pine River, as well as a lack of financial flexibility—that are important to understanding the fiscal health of Pine River Township, in particular, but also rural communities more generally.