Monday, February 20, 2012

Bloomfield Township Board Meets Tuesday at 4 p.m. to Discuss 2012-2013 Budget

Tuesday, Feb. 21 will be the first time the Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees will discuss publicly the preliminary budget that was introduced Nov. 28, 2011. According to the minutes of that meeting, all department heads had already met with the elected officials and the board was presenting a balanced budget.

It's been about 90 days, and the board has been publicly silent up to now on the budget.  Why?  Scheduling this very important topic and discussing it on a Tuesday at 4 p.m.  is a disservice to all taxpayers.  This day and time is NOT the regularly scheduled time and many may not be able to attend as they are at work.  Supervisor Leo Savoie reported at the Feb. 13 meeting that if the meeting is running long, there will be a dinner break and then return to continue the meeting. This is so unusual.

The township board also has changed the meeting from a study session to a regular meeting of the board of trustees.  That means that motions may be made and votes recorded. 
The township website has a "board packet" published for the Feb. 21 @ 4 p.m. meeting. The most important thing to know about the packet is: the BUDGET figures are NOT the same as were published in Nov. 2011. The last two column headings are different, and therefore, the figures below them may be different.  It was left up to all of us to make this discovery. 

Make sure you look at and/or copy the budget that now says: "PROPOSED" budget which can be found here, versus the one you may have viewed earlier and titled "preliminary budget".  There are 48 pages of the "PROPOSED" budget versus the 36 pages of the "preliminary budget".

I believe that the department heads will present to the board and to the public information that defends or explains their budget requests and/or needs. I am not sure when or if the public may ask questions. Usually, it is after the board hears the entire agenda item but before any motion. However, this ONE agenda item may take hours...possibly even continue after a dinner break.

Since this is a Board of Trustees meeting, it should be video recorded and archived. It may be found on Comcast Cable TV 15 @ 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 21. Since the township is closed every Friday and this Monday is a holiday, I could not confirm this information.  If it is recorded, it should appear on the township website.

I've mentioned before, there is a public safety millage that is expiring in 2012. It is 2.5 mills. What contingencies have been made to the budget in the event any renewal effort fails? Part of this budget is Jan.- March of 2013.

A balanced budget may be presented on Tuesday and "balanced" is good....but not when you have to keep going to the taxpayer for more money as the township did in Feb. 2010.   That was for ten years, $4.4 million per year.  Just after receiving the first installment, the township boasted AAA rating.  Before the millage, they were claiming layoffs for public safety.  The township raises revenue by asking taxpayers for more money and by "sharing services".  The township departments may claim and defend new "revenue" from other sources, but are they disclosing the expenses involved with that revenue?

Every opportunity to cut expenses should be taken. A honest look at vehicles purchased and used by whom is a great place to make the first cuts. But don't stop there.  How much does the township pay in tuition reimbursement, longevity pay and overtime? There are many ways to make cuts to the township budget and the effort to do so must be made by the entire board of trustees.

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