Sunday, February 26, 2012

Bloomfield Township Road Budget - Over One Million Dollars Too High

Hi All,
The "proposed" budget was discussed at the meeting on February 21, 2012.    Charts referenced in this blog are from:  Proposed Budget Presentation.   Road Division charts are found on pp. 56-60.

Bloomfield Township maintains our subdivision roads (176 paved miles and 37 miles of gravel roads).  It is the only township in Michigan that has its own Road Division.  Oakland County still maintains the major roads: ie: Telegraph, Woodward, etc.

The other townships in Michigan use their County Road Department for services.  We could, too. The one mill tax (expires 2016) in Bloomfield Township is in addition to what you pay in taxes for the County Road Commission.  The line item: REPAY for $607,000  is your money returned to the township from the County.

There are many costs to maintain a road department.
The township owns a lot of road related equipment, owns buildings to house the equipment, maintains the equipment, purchases the supplies needed, buys the fuel for the vehicles, hires workers to use the equipment and hires professionals needed for some work.  The Bloomfield Township taxpayers are responsible for all those costs including employee wages, health benefits and pensions. We are the only township in Michigan with these extra costs.  The dedicated millage for the roads may only be spent for this department.

Should the township spend more on roads than the voters approved for the dedicated millage ?

Problem: the dedicated one mill  money collected pays mostly salaries and benefits.The dollars collected under line item PTAX which is the dedicated one mill road tax is $2.226 million, but that basically covers the wages and benefits for that department.
When you combine line items SAL & BEN:  salaries,wages and benefits:  the costs are  $1,810,000.

Problem:  from the dedicated one mill money there is not much left to do the job.
When you do the math,  only $416,000 remains of that dedicated millage money to purchase equipment, fuel, materials, etc. to do the road jobs for the entire year.  The budget indicates $680,000 in the "repay" (your taxes back from county) and "other" revenues... for a total $1 million more revenue collected above the dedicated one mill to perform the road work for one year.  However, that still wasn't enough money for this budget.  Another $1 million or more is needed to be added to get to the $4 million budget requested.

If you are planning the township budget for 2012-2013:
Do you increase revenue to get to $4 million budget request by department heads by transferring more money from the general fund?  
Do you decrease the size of the budget and expenditures for that department to stay within the dedicated millage money collected?
  1. The Township Chose:  Put More Money into the Road Fund      The Township chose to transfer more money from the general fund.   How much more?  Answer:  Over $1 million.  But was that what the voters authorized the elected officials to do?  The township voters at the time of the ballot question said, "yes", we are willing to spend up to one mill EXTRA for our own road department.  This dedicated millage was to cover ALL the costs for a road department.
  2. Make Budget Cuts      Was this considered?  Where should budget cuts occur?  In the Road Department down to the level of what was collected as dedicated millage money.  Wages and salaries are unsustainable (in all departments).  Why has the line item:  costs for PS-Professional Services gone from $270,794 at the end of 2011 to proposed $678,500?  Is new equipment absolutely necessary?  Perhaps the duties of the road department need to be re-evaluated.   It is not too late to change the 2012-2013 budget. There are 12 full time employees and 6 part time or seasonal employees listed in the 2010 Annual Report for the Road Department.  
What would you choose?  Is $4 million what you want to spend each year on roads while your dedicated tax dollars for roads collects less than $2.5 million?  
While it is certainly nice to have your subdivision road plowed quickly in the winter storms...or the gravel road leveled..the township is operating this road fund...a million dollars over budget.

FYI:  The township road department can only patch roads....full asphalt paving needs to be done by creating a special assessment district and then contracted out (not township) and you will be billed for your share of the paving done adjacent to your property.  So, if you think your $4 million dollars will repave your road, you are mistaken.  That's extra.

Bottom Line:
The "proposed" budget for the Road Department should not have more than a million dollars of TRANSFER money from the general fund.  Cuts should be made to operate within the dedicated millage money generated.  Those cuts could be made by changing salaries/benefits or reducing the work staff.  Only one full time road department employee was hired after 2005, so the other employees are on the "old" , but costly, benefits plan. (from 2010 data)


  1. Excellent post. The taxpayers of Bloomfield Township are likely unaware of this excessive spending by a department. Prudent management of budgets has to start with cutbacks on all levels including whole departments. In this case the the cost of large equipment and employees is questionable.

  2. I live on the corner of a cul-de-sac and a rathe main road in our sub anf the pavement is down to sand and gravel-disgracefull for what we pay and what their budget is-and we know we will each be assesed to have it fixed-they should be ashamed of themselves!