The budget presentation went smoothly. Each department head used a prepared slide/power point (Proposed Budget Presentation ) to aid in their presentations. Occasionally a trustee would ask a question. I did not attend as I wanted to watch it on Cable TV 15. (Sorry AT&T...not for you.) Two and 1/2 hours later it was over and the trustees went to closed session. The evening seemed well rehearsed. No questions were asked to divert the township message. The budget is balanced. The township has made the necessary adjustments....so...we should all be happy, right?
Are you aware that there are 220 retirees out there that need funding? They are under the Retiree Health Care Trust Fund. There are 240 current full time employees, most of them are still on that account. Only the "new hires" are on a different plan. It may be 20 years or more before the significant savings is realized here. That "new hire" plan has the township depositing $2500/ year/ employee into a fund for that health retirement account. I believe the employee funds it with 2% of base salary/year. The employee takes that health account with him/her when employment ends for any reason. So how much does it cost the township for the "old plan"?
It was mentioned that the employees are on their 3rd or 4th year of a pay freeze. What was not frozen in the contract was longevity pay. Every year of employment, the employee gets a % pay boost. The longer here, the higher the %. That sounds warm and fuzzy if you are an employee...but it is not for "new hires".
The employees also have a tuition reimbursement plan and paid training since 2004. It appears that there may have been adjustment to that plan in 2010? The strategic plan highlights the many educational accomplishments your tax dollars have helped provide to the employees. I'm sure there are many more than listed. Since the township allows flex-time and cross-training of employees for many jobs, the taxpayer is basically a teacher and a funding source. Here is a suggestion: hire people that are already trained for the job. "New hires" are on less costly plans. Is there a line item for tuition reimbursement? Check out the "training" line items.
There is also the opportunity for overtime. There are township programs that are held on Friday and on the weekends. The fire department also reported $300,000 in overtime mostly because of absent employees. Is there an overtime line item for every department? Overtime is not only pay, but benefits, too. This weekend the clerk's office will be open Friday and Saturday for absentee ballots for the presidential primary. WHY? Everyone in the township should know when the township offices are open and closed. Make plans ahead of time....or demand the township operate all 5 days of the week and stay closed on Saturdays.
Then there is the issue of vehicles, which is a form of "benefits or wages" for some, which was mostly ignored in this presentation. It was mentioned that there are 235 pieces of equipment that the motor pool maintains. How many are vehicles? Which department or which employee is assigned a vehicle? How much gas is consumed? Who gets the perks and what is the annual value? Most importantly, where are those vehicles in the budget? Why aren't the car/vehicle purchases discussed and approved at a board of trustees meeting?
Both the police and fire departments reported that 90% of their public safety budget goes to personnel. That budget is approximately $24,000,000. I can't believe that the taxpayers can continue to pay those salaries, health benefits and pensions. However, the union employees signed a six year deal just before David Payne left....and this current board of trustees can opt out of mandated savings for the public via Public Act 152 for another 5 years. April 1, 2013, the contract can be reopened for wages.
While the board indicates the township employees have made sacrifices to keep their jobs....I believe it is the taxpayer who continues to bear the most burden for a township that operates excessively to implement the employee generated "strategic plan"....and that is how to generate more revenue and how to keep their jobs while providing "services that THEY THINK the public wants". I think the township can get by with less of most everything. More cuts should have been made in this budget.