Tuesday, October 25, 2011

SURPRISE...Is the Township Board Hiding Something?

Hi All,
Well, well, well. A SURPRISE at Monday's Board of Trustee meeting.
The Township attorney said it was legal.

An agenda item was added without previous notice to the public:
  •  "Adjourned to closed session to discuss attorney opinion regarding contract with the City of Sylvan Lake." 
With the Nov. 8 election coming soon, the Township apparently needs to review a potential contract for police and/or dispatch with the City of Sylvan Lake. What if Sylvan Lake does not pass their millage? Do they get cheaper service from the Township? Just asking.
  • My blog from Sept. 23 has some power point information found on the Sylvan Lake website concerning the proposed police and dispatch contract that was shown to their citizens.
It will be interesting to see how Sylvan Lake's power point and the Township's closed-door session Monday night are similar. When and how will township taxpayers find out?   Will Township citizens need to click on Sylvan Lake's website to read their minutes or newsletters for more information?
  • First, the Township provided planning, inspections, permitting. Second, assessing.  Third, police and dispatch? Stay tuned. Can a Township annex a City? The City of Sylvan Lake should be paying our millage rates.
The most frustrating part of all this "sharing services" is the LACK of COMMUNICATION between the township trustees and its own taxpayers. When are WE going to hear about these contracts? At a UHOA meeting in September, guest speaker Leo Savoie was asked if the Township is continuing to pursue more agreements with other cities.
  • Mr. Savoie indicated that conversations are still occurring at this time with other communities and believe it or not, he declined to name the other cities/towns/villages/townships  or the services being considered.  That is not open and transparent.  The Township apparently won't even put an agenda item for "closed session"  about these issues. Why no advance notice to the taxpayers?  Are they hiding something?
Oh, by the way, the new Birmingham city manager was quoted in Crain's Detroit Business:   http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20111002/AWARDS40/110929898/robert-bruner-35#   in an article about the new Birmingham city manager:
  • "But the new post comes with financial challenges of its own, and Bruner said he is in discussions with newly appointed Bloomfield Township Supervisor Leo Savoie about consolidation of the “Public Safety Answering Point” or emergency dispatch service between police departments."    
Apparently Birmingham doesn't have a problem telling their constituents about what their city is considering as far as "shared services"  might be concerned.  Why?  Would it be because Birmingham might get the real savings?
  • Past rumors have the dispatch occurring in the Township buildings...with dispatchers on the Township payroll...with the Township collecting a "fee" from Birmingham.  Again, the cost of buildings, software and hardware needs, health and pension costs, etc. will be the Township taxpayers responsibility....just rumors...but not a win situation for the Township....my opinion.
At the Board of Trustee meeting (10/24) I sat through a presentation by the Senior Services department for a grant for under $63,000 total funding for repairs to low income residents homes. This presentation was presented tonight as a "courtesy". The real public hearing isn't until sometime in November.  
  • Hello....How about taking MORE IMPORTANT ISSUES and giving the taxpayers some of that "courtesy and public hearings" concerning sharing services?
The Township has one neighborhood of about 1000 residents....about the same residential size as the entire City of Sylvan Lake (the City also has commercial).  That area of the Township is known as Bloomfield Village.  
  • Those residents pay ALL Township millages, including all Public Safety millages, plus those citizens voluntarily ask for a special millage to be assessed for a separate police service and separate volunteer fire department.  The "Village"  owns the buildings and equipment for their special police and fire services and they pay the employees of this extra police and fire service.  I don't recall the exact total amount the residents of the Village collect for those extra services...but I want to say it was over $300,000.  This is above and beyond the regular police and fire service.
The reason I mention this is because the proposed "fee" for Sylvan Lake....is less than $300,000....yet Sylvan Lake residents would get the full benefits of the entire REGULAR employees of the Township police and dispatch.
  • Township Budget: Police expenses:$12,120,500.00  Dispatch expenses: $1,206,900.00 
  • Again, the Township taxpayers buy and replace the special vehicles, pay for the gas and maintenance, own the buildings and related office equipment, pays the Union employees wages, health and pension costs.  
  • No one has yet been able to convince me that the Township taxpayer has either saved or reduced costs with these kind of existing or potential "shared services".
The Oakland Press was at the Township to video the meeting. I believe they were streaming live. The Township cameras were there, too, but were not live. As far as the permanent cameras promised at Township Hall? Probably not until January 2012. Gee, the township can permit a brand new restaurant in less than a month, but it takes 4-plus months to get cameras bought and mounted in one room. Go figure.
  • As usual, I was in "watchdog" mode and I used my three minutes to comment about many of the agenda items. You will not see any of what I said nor if the board responded in the written minutes.
  • I sometimes write my own version of Township meetings minutes and post them on: http://bloomfield-mi.patch.com    News>Local Voices
Please take time to watch the video of this meeting. I think it is important to learn of all the township issues. It will take about two hours at: The Oakland Press, or Comcast Channel 15 programming, or video on demand from the township website on your computer. View the meeting, listen for my questions, and see if the board answered what was asked.

Correction to an earlier blog: Leo Savoie is an Appraiser.  I was incorrect when I identified his profession as an Assessor.  Savoie has announced he will not do appraisal work in the Township while he serves as Supervisor.  While the mandated role of the supervisor is administering assessing, that department director for the township is Bill Griffin.

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