Tuesday, December 13, 2011

12/12 Board of Trustees: Unofficial Minutes/Comments/Opinions

Hi All,
The final Board of Trustees meeting of 2011 ended as most others with all decisions rendered unanimous and in favor of the issue.

Public Hearing
The building that currently houses the China Village Restaurant in the Bloomfield Hills Shopping Center at the SE corner of Opdyke and South Boulevard has been rezoned from B-1  to B-2 .  The change in zoning is only for that building, the remainder of the property stays zoned B-1.  The owner of the shopping center, John Secco, indicated that he would like a restaurant that would have a Class C liquor license.

 Updates at this location:  plans for an ATM kiosk is currently going through Township processes for approval.  It would eliminate 11 parking spaces and would be a drive-up unit.  It was also mentioned that one tenant space may soon be occupied by Subway.

Appointments to Township Boards
There were 5 township boards that had expiring terms.  Many of the 7 members on the Township Board expressed that all the people with expiring terms were doing the job well and they saw no reason not to reappoint them for another three years.  There was no need to look at other applicants.  So they didn't.

I spoke for the record that by not posting the expiring terms to the Township residents, the Board of Trustees have no idea what other talent may be out there willing to serve the Township.  This was an opportunity to involve more citizens in Township government.  Apparently, that is not important.

I also questioned why there were no expiring terms in 2013 for the ZBA and asked if the new law in 2006 concerning zoning didn't require staggered terms.  I suggested that the people being appointed tonight be approved for only 1 year with an expiration to be 2013.  The attorney present did not respond to the legal question and the Board approved the ZBA appointees for 3 years without much discussion on that point.  I'm not sure this Board is in compliance with the law.

I also questioned why there were no alternates appointed to the Board of Review.  I pointed out that one never knows when an emergency happens.  I suggested that the Board consider also reappointing the existing alternates at this meeting. The township answer:  alternates have not been used in the last six years...and... two people can do the job of Board of Review if necessary. HOWEVER, that means if you are before the Board of Review with only two members hearing your case, you must get both votes to win.  The decision requires a 2 out of 3 vote.  The length of the term is one year, this year only.  This was done to get the "odd year" date renewal to comply with that law.

I also requested that the Board of Review members be added to the website directory page. I heard Mr. Savoie give the approval for website posting to Mr. Griffin after the meeting.  It is now found on that page.

Bureau of Justice Assistance Grant Amendment
This was basically a formality by the more than 20 area communities involved in the 2009 grant to allow the grant money originally given to the Pontiac Police Department to transfer to the Oakland County Sheriff's department to spend in order to perform their job in the City of Pontiac.  There was also a transfer of 4 police cars and some dispatch equipment that was purchased with grant money.

I took this opportunity to ask Deputy Chief Geoff Gaudard about the money the Township received from this 2009 grant and how the Township police department used the money.  His reply was that the Township received $12,500 and that the City of Birmingham received $16,000 and that the two communities are in discussions about shared dispatch. If that happens, the money from each community would be spent for that cause.  If not, the opportunity to use the grant money for other police related purchases for each city would expire in 2013.

Butterfly Group, L.L.C.  Class C Liquor License Request
This agenda item had a notice on the outside door of the Township building stating that the item was "adjourned".  There was just an announcement to that fact at the agenda item #5.   There was no motion by the Board for anything....not even a motion to TABLE the item.  Does that mean the item was removed at the request of the petitioner?  More on this issue in a later blog.  Or, read the Board Packet for agenda #5 of the Dec. 12, 2011 Board of Trustees meeting.

Financial Issues
There were three different agenda items basically for approving the amended investment policy and where Township money is deposited.  I believe this is done at year end every year.
 I did comment on the investment policy, specifically # 10 of that document which states:   "BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the treasurer shall quarterly provide a written report to the township board concerning the investment of township funds."
I asked that those quarterly reports be presented at regularly scheduled Township Board of Trustees meetings in the future so that the investments of township funds report may be archived as part of the Board Packet and available for the Township residents to review and to discuss at the meeting.  The Board did not reply that they would or would not do this in the future.  Open and transparent government is my goal.  Mr. Devine, Treasurer, did say the reports are currently available at his office.

Agenda Item # 9
 Act 152, the Publicly Funded Health Insurance Contribution Act,  became effective on September 27, 2011. 

"AN ACT to limit a public employer’s expenditures for employee medical benefit plans; to provide the power and duties of certain state agencies and officials; to provide for exceptions; and to provide for sanctions.

 A key word: "contribution" : the public employees were being required to contribute money to their health care plans.  Depending on the plan, the contributions varied by both the employee and the employer.
WHAT health coverage plans do our employees have?

Second key word: "exempt":  While this act appeared to help stem the rising cost of health care of public employees for the employer, the Act provides for communities to opt out or exempt themselves from this requirement.  IF the employees are currently under a contract that was signed before the date of this new legislation, exemption is possible by a 2/3 vote.   All new contracts after 9/27/11 must comply.
IS this why the Township and the employees signed a six year contract (David Payne as Supervisor)
waaaay in advance of the then existing contract termination date?

The question I asked of the Board of Trustees:  What type of health plan(s) currently exist for Township employees and what would the savings be if the Township followed Act 152 without exempting out?  How much money could be saved?   Mr. Devine, Treasurer, responded, however  I can only recommend you watch the archived video of his answer.  I quit listening as my head was spinning.  I wanted a FACT.  Something like, after careful review of all Township health care policies, and doing the mathematical calculations of what was now being required by ACT 152, it was determined that the Township would save XXX dollars per year if the township does not exempt from the provisions of Act 152.  Were those calculations ever performed? If so, not presented at the meeting.
Do any of the trustees know how much money the Township could have saved the taxpayers?

Instead, the Township had a prepared resolution ready for the meeting with a lot of  "whereas.."  blah, blah, blah, and are choosing not to comply with the enforcing of contributions by the employees as stated in Act 152.......because they CAN exempt.
Guess what, the contract is for 6 years.  Five more years for "exempt" from provisions of the Act 152 ?

Related:  Saw this article about Kalamazoo Township

Public Comment
Shelly Taub, David Potts, and Marcia Robovitsky spoke.  (That's how the Township records minutes.)
Want to know what was said?  Please, listen and watch the entire meeting:  Comcast Cable 15:  Tuesday, 12/13 from 7pm to 9:30 pm    or go to video on demand on your computer.


  1. Bloomfield township boats residents with some of the highest educational credentials and experience in the country...executives, business owners, professionals, etc., etc., but our illustrious township board doesn't think there is anyone more qualified than the people they already know and love and have appointed to their various boards. Talk about an insular and biased view. Apparently, there are so few qualified people in the township to be considered for various board appointments that they appoint the same person they already know to several boards. I call this incestuous government.

  2. It sure sounds like, from reading Marcia's comments that the township board is unable to detail the cost savings we WON'T be getting because they don't know. Instead it sounds like the township board choose peace at any cost with the employees of the township instead of representing the interests of the residents they are elected to represent. They could have easily offset at least part of the cost of the mileage they will be seeking..by implementing Snyder's plan for public employees to share in health care costs...but Snyder can't prevent the township board from doing something stupid ....and it sends to me like they put the financial screws to their own residents with their new six year contract and an exemption from the Snyder cost sharing legislation.