Monday, November 7, 2011

Sylvan Lake "NO" Vote May Impact Bloomfield Township Public Services

Hi All,
On Tuesday, November 8, 2011, the residents of the City of Sylvan Lake will go to the polls to either pass or fail a 5 mills issue for Public Safety.  If they pass the millage there will be funds to manage their own police force and dispatch.  If the vote is no, they will outsource the police and dispatch and and it appears that Bloomfield Township may perform the jobs for a "fee".

Below is a portion of a direct quote from an email I received on 11/3/11 from Township Supervisor, Savoie.  He was responding promptly to my email questioning "shared services" and WHEN will the Township residents have input as to whether or not "sharing services" is a good idea:
  • " As I have indicated to you in the past we have been in discussion with several municipalities exploring shared services. The Board of Trustees are aware of these discussions. Unless they become meaningful I do not believe it is in anyone’s  best interest to have public dialog. Once they do become meaningful I can assure you there will be open discussions regarding the benefits and pitfalls of any shared services."
On Nov. 8...IF the City of Sylvan Lake does NOT pass the millage for Public Safety...Bloomfield Township police and dispatch MAY be handling the duties.  I would argue that the "discussions" with Sylvan Lake are "meaningful" now and the only people out of the discussions are the Bloomfield Township taxpayers.

Sylvan Lake residents apparently have seen a power point presentation (click on Millage presentation) about what the Township may offer and at what "fee"  as to police and dispatch operations for Sylvan Lake... IF the millage fails.  It appears Bloomfield Township is their primary choice for police and dispatch service ...IF the millage fails.

How did I arrive at this conclusion?

As I have mentioned before, I read the City of Sylvan Lake regular minutes and study session minutes when they are finally posted.  It is unfortunate, but I believe all Township residents need to read those City of Sylvan Lake minutes.  Where are Township minutes on this issue of potentially taking over the police and dispatch duties for the City of Sylvan Lake for a "fee"?   Don't know.

Some quotes from the minutes (reg. or study session) from Sylvan Lake : August and Sept.I am quoting SYLVAN LAKE minutes !
  1. 8/2/11 Martin recommended going with Bloomfield Twp for police and dispatch services if necessary.
  2. 8/2/11 Martin discussed how council wants to get information out to the residents regarding the millage.
  3. 8/10/11   Thank You to Paul Bibeau-Retirement A3-006-11
    City Manager Martin announced that Paul Bibeau has been working with Sylvan Lake for 29 years and the City Attorney for 27 years.
  4. 8/10/11  New City Attorney A3-007-11
    Martin welcomed Tom Schultz from Secrest, Wardle. Schultz has been with the firm for 20 years and has a great deal of municipal law experience. Martin has been working with Schultz for the last two and a half months and feels he is responsible and will be a good fit for the city. Schulz thanked the city for the opportunity and looks forward to working with the city.
  5. 8/10/11 Police Department P1-018-11
    The City has been in discussions for police services. If the proposed 5 mills is not passed in November then the City Police Services will contracted out.
  6. 8/10/11 Martin is working on a contract with Bloomfield Twp. It would be based on taxable value of the city. The agreement they are looking at is based on millage, so if taxable values go down the fee will go down also and if the values go up then the fee will increase.
  7. 8/10/11 g. Patrol car Purchase P1-019-11
    Martin acknowledged this is not a good time, but there are serious issues with the two older patrol cars. They are out of service more than they are in service. While they are out of service, it puts that much more wear and tear on the remaining vehicles. The vehicles have now actually stopped running while they were being driven. It has become a liability issue. Last year the city spent over $23,000 on vehicle maintenance.
    Maurina asked what happened with Pontiac’s cars. Martin stated the Chief has been working on that before the County took over. He was looking at vehicles along with equipment. He thought he had a Tahoe. Pontiac has now informed him everything is going out for bid. Maurina asked if it is possible to lease a car from another community through the end of year. Martin is unsure of this. Zubrzycki suggested asking Bloomfield Township for a bridge plan. Meskin asked if it is in the budget for the current year. Martin stated it is. Meskin recommended if they have to buy one then it should be black since Bloomfield Township drives black vehicles. Lorenz agreed with Meskin’s idea. He suggested they approach Bloomfield Township is discuss purchasing a car and if needed feathering it into their fleet or lease a vehicle from them for three months. Lorenz asked that the study session be posted as special meeting in case they need to approve this.
  8. 8/25/11 Study Session, August 25th, to do a presentation on the public safety millage.
  9. 8/25/11 Millage Presentation Preview
    Martin stated he made copies of the presentation for Council to write notes on. He asked to go through it first and then discuss it after. It was a power point presentation on the Public Safety Millage. After the presentation council provided their input and MaryAnn Smith provided public comment. Martin asked council to review the paper copy again over the weekend and provide any further input by next Wednesday.
  10. 8/25/11 Sharing Information with City Council
    Martin stated he has been a little remiss in sharing police incidents with Council. Some of the stuff he didn’t know about. He has spoken with Attorney Schultz and the Bloomfield Twp Chief regarding this.
    The Chief will setup a platform of notice to the City Manager. Martin will forward to City Council any such things such as unnatural death, multiple breaking and entering or larcenying of vehicles or anything getting attention or in the newspaper. He doesn’t want this to be a gossip mill; he wants Council to know what is given is only what can be told at the time.
  11. 8/25/11 Update on Police Vehicle
    Martin reported the Chief feels the one vehicle that broke down is going to be ok for the time being. Pontiac is only doing a bid process to sell their vehicles. If they were to order a new vehicle they wouldn’t get it until mid October. They are using the one with the biggest issues least. Martin spoke with Bloomfield Twp Chief and they have eight new vehicles on the lot that have never been used; they are just backup vehicles. They would work out a deal with the city if we need them too. It would still need to be outfitted. They are hoping to wait.
  12.  9/14/11  New Patrol Vehicle P1-020-11
    The Police now have a new vehicle, a Chevy Tahoe. They were beyond needing a new patrol vehicle. The white impala was in the shop so much that it put quite a strain on the remaining vehicles. It stalled while in being driven. It was determined they could not get a guarantee it would not stall so it was taken out of service. $28,000 was spent on vehicle maintenance this past year. Martin spoke with Bloomfield Township prior to purchasing the Tahoe. Bloomfield stated they would buy whatever vehicle we purchased if the millage does not pass.
    Why a Tahoe?
    In Martin’s discussion with Bloomfield Township they talked about the pros and cons of different vehicles. One of the main issues departments are facing is not having enough room in their patrol vehicles. The Tahoe is much more rugged vehicle; it sits higher and holds its value much better. It was purchased for $25,500. A charger would have cost about $23,500. The gas mileage is the same as a crown vic and only 1 MGP less than the Charger.  Maurina added a police vehicle was in the budget for the past two years and they didn’t purchase one. For safety reasons they could not wait until after the election.
  13. 9/14/11 Maurina announced there will be more presentation meetings. The choice is up to the residents whether to save the police or outsource them.   
 Why did I highlight in RED?
  • The new attorney for Sylvan Lake is from the SAME legal firm as the Township attorney, Secrest Wardle.  Township attorney, Mr. Hampton currently serves as general counsel for the City of Bloomfield Hills, City of Auburn Hills, Township of Bloomfield, and Township of West Bloomfield. Thomas Schultz has concentrated his practice in municipal law. He is currently the City Attorney for the City of Novi and the City of Farmington, and provides general counsel services for several other Oakland County communities, including the City of Farmington Hills and Bloomfield Township. He has also acted as special counsel for other communities in the region. Schultz can now add the City of Sylvan Lake to his credits.
  • So .... that law firm is handling the police/dispatch agreement for both the Township and the City of Sylvan Lake?  Although the announcement to hire a new Sylvan Lake attorney was made in August, he had been working along side the retiring attorney for the previous two and one half months. 
  • Funny ... Sylvan Lake gets a new attorney the same time as all the "agreements" are made as to the Township doing permitting, inspections and assessments and now possibly police and dispatch for "fees".  Gee, and it's the same law firm that works for the Township. Is there a conflict of interest here? 
  • The patrol car purchase really set me off, especially when I read about the 8 new vehicles on the lot that have never been used.  Personally, count all the vehicles at the think 8 unused patrol cars made you angry....
  • WHY did the Township buy extra vehicles?  So they could service other communities?  And, If the Sylvan Lake millage does not pass...WE, the Bloomfield Township taxpayer, will  BUY the police car Sylvan Lake just purchased and then the Township will collect a small "fee" from Sylvan Lake and then send that police car back to that community with our police officer?  Are you kidding?
  • Where are YOU on this issue?  Am I the only person outraged by the closed door actions of the Bloomfield Township elected officials and negotiating employees? Is there a code of secrecy and silence at the Township? What the Taxpayers don't know...the better for job security? The Township's past history of presenting a contract at the last minute (July 25) for discussion is not open and transparent government. Those contracts, including the assessing contract (Aug. 10), come before the Board with a predetermined outcome and nothing said at a Board of Trustee meeting will change that my opinion.
  • Is collecting small amounts of revenue ($19,000/year for assessing)  from another community the best solution for reducing our costs? I don't think so.  We should be reducing our costs by eliminating some employees, quit buying vehicles that are not needed or used, and make hard decisions in each department.  The next budget is being worked on right now.  What is our Township planning for our budget?  Reducing our costs or servicing other communities?  I for one, will not be voting to renew any public safety millage ( the Bloomfield Township  10 year 2.5 millage from 2002 is expiring in 2012)  as long as our Township leaders send the vehicles, specialized equipment and personnel outside our borders for a small "fee".
  • Please, post a comment on this site.  I am willing to listen to both sides of an issue.  Too bad the Township has been silent all these months. It appears a deal is ready to be signed... just waiting for the City of Sylvan Lake vote results on their 5 mills public safety issue.

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