Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The real cost of sharing services

I am concerned with the costs to the taxpayers for "services we all want and expect" as Bloomfield Township leaders like to tell us.

Earlier in August the board approved township personnel to do all inspection services for the city of Sylvan Lake for a "fee" working as "independent contractors." Then the township approved a two-year deal to do all of the assessing for Sylvan Lake for $19,000 a year, again a "fee" working as "independent contractors."

There are about 1,000 properties to assess in the city of Sylvan Lake, residential and commercial.

The township budget for assessing is $750,000. The costs for the building rent, utilities, computers, insurance, motor pool cars, gas and maintenance, etc. are not included as expenses in that budget.

The township claimed that no more personnel were needed, nor any other items (computers,etc.), and that the existing department could easily absorb this work in their daily routine.

The Board of Review will also be involved but those scheduled meetings will need to be performed on different days at the city of Sylvan Lake. The Board of Review has expenses as well. Other departments, such as building and planning, may be needed in order to complete the data and reports required. What costs are there?

The township is responsible for about 20,000 (my guesstimate) residential and commercial properties in the township. Those 20,000, plus 1000 for Sylvan Lake, properties make 21,000 properties divided into that $750,000 assessing budget, for a per parcel cost of $35.71. Doesn't sound like it costs much per property.

However, multiply $35.71 by the number of properties needing assessing in Sylvan Lake and I think the township should actually be charging at least $35,710, not $19,000 per year.

Our tax dollars are subsidizing another community that pays zero in millages...just "fees." Our township employees are "independent contractors" to the city of Sylvan Lake. That means Sylvan Lake is not responsible for wages, health and insurance benefits or pensions. The township is responsible for all of those costs. The township is responsible for all the legacy costs and all the costs associated with the job...vehicles, computers, building to do business from, etc.

The city of Sylvan Lake has also considered a proposal by the township to have police and dispatch performed by our township employees. What will that "fee" be? How much will the township taxpayers be subsidizing for those services?

Beware of future millage requests. What is your money paying for? Services for you, or them?

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