Saturday, November 19, 2011

Bloomfield Township Budget and Over 167 Fleet Vehicles and 55 Pieces of Equipment

Hi All,
The next budget (2012-2013) will be before the the Board of Trustees in March 2012 for approval.  Before then, there will be a public hearing on the budget.  You will have only 3 minutes to voice your opinion or concerns. The time to start looking at the budget is now. The time to take your concerns to the Township is now. What line items concern you?  Supervisor, Leo Savoie, has often mentioned that his door is open for questions and conversations. The time to try to influence the Township as it relates to the budget is now.  Waiting for your 3 minutes at the public hearing may be too late.
I have been reviewing the budget as it relates to line item #978 "vehicle purchase".  I have written about the police vehicles and the fire department vehicles. The water/sewer/road departments have special equipment and vehicles that are needed for those jobs. There are also many other cars and pickup trucks, etc. owned by the Township for the many other departments. What is the Township policy for vehicle purchases? 

I've attended most of the Board of Trustees meetings since March 2010.  There have been some agenda items to approve special vehicles and pieces of equipment. However, I have not seen any proposed purchases of vehicles (ie: for the elected officials or the department heads) as an agenda item for discussion and vote by the Board of Trustees.  With the statistic of "over 167 fleet vehicles" in the Township along with "55 pieces of equipment", all vehicles should be put out for bids for the Township to get the best price.  Those bids should be presented at a public meeting and decisions made by the Board of Trustees.

Are there bids for the cars, pickup trucks, etc.  in the motor pool fleet?   I have not seen official minutes on the Township website for many motor pool vehicle purchases.  I do know for a fact that a local car dealership donated $30,000 to the SOS (Save Our Services) campaign.  SOS was formed to promote the YES  vote for a new ten year 1.3 mills tax that was on the ballot  February 2010.  Did the $30,000 donation by the dealership to the SOS campaign help secure a Township contract for the vehicles?  I don't know.  I don't know which dealership has ever been awarded vehicle contracts. There has not been open and transparent action taken at a public meeting of the Board of Trustees as to most of the purchases and costs of the over 167 Township fleet vehicles.  When have the purchase approvals been made and who made the decisions?

Should the taxpayers supply cars, either purchased or leased, for employees? If yes, which employees?  Do some employees have a vehicle 24/7?   The budget does not identify a vehicle(s) for each of the many central office departments as an expense. For instance, if the Supervisor has a vehicle 24/7 paid for by the taxpayers and serviced and fueled by the Township motor pool, should those expenses be budgeted to his/her department?  How many vehicles are available to each department?  How many employees are authorized to drive Township vehicles? How many employees have Township vehicles 24/7?  Could line item #978 "vehicle purchase" be an area for cost cutting in the next budget?

"Greater openness in government helps not only prevent corruption, but lays out exactly how public entities spend taxpayer dollars.”  anonymous  ......but does reflect my thoughts.....

The Motor Pool division maintains the entire Bloomfield Township fleet except for contracted out repairs.  In the 2010 Annual Report for Public Works this division reports that there are:
  • over 167 fleet vehicles
  • 55 pieces of equipment
  • used 90,000 - 100,000 gallons of unleaded fuel
  • used 50,000 gallons of diesel fuel
Bloomfield Township is approximately 26 square miles. The 2010 Census reports a population of 41,070 people with 31,840 being of voting age.  There are 17,799 households (homes, apt., group homes, etc.) with 1333 of those households being vacant at the time of the census.

Somewhere I read or heard that the Township owned $14,000,000 in vehicles. The actual number would be an interesting statistic to know.

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