On Monday, June 11 @ 7 pm the Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees will address two agenda items concerning the FIRE department. With a public safety millage renewal being requested on the August 7, 2012 ballot, any requests that involve spending taxpayer dollars should be seriously reviewed by our township leadership.
Agenda item # 4 - Oakway Mutual Aid Agreement
This is an agreement among different municipalities and their fire departments.
Page 46 (out of 87)in the board packet begins the details provided by the township for this agenda item. It starts out with many"whereas.." here are a few of them:
MORE "Whereas"... and more detailed information continues to page 66 of the board packet. Almost 20 pages of contract language, bylaws, etc. to read. This entire agreement needs to be understood by the trustees before casting their vote Monday night. However, the board packet shows that the township has already written the resolution to accept this inter-local agreement on Monday night. I have copied it below for your review. Will the board approve this agenda item? Pre-determined outcomes are common. I say they will....but should they? Hope there is a great discussion. Watch it on Comcast Cable 15 @ 7 pm on Monday night or click here to view live streaming on your computer.
WHAT NEEDS TO BE EXPLAINED but missing in all this information provided in the board packet is statement # 3 above in the resolution to be signed by the board of trustees. The Township is withdrawing from a previous association for mutual aid...why? It doesn't sound like that association has disbanded. What municipalities were and still are in that association? Who and what other municipalities created this new association for mutual aid and why? If you read the details of this new proposed association that the township will vote on Monday night ...the beginning fee is $5000 in dues. There could also be assessments. There could also be equipment needs. There will be times when township fire personnel are busy doing inter-local training, emergencies and other duties....paid by township taxpayers.
While I agree that in times of emergencies that providing services and aiding and assisting in those emergencies is critical for the safety of many. But, why the need to join this new association and abandon the old association? There are many inter-local agreements already signed by the township for both police and fire. Where can one read the details about all of them?
Most importantly, is there a line item in the budget (see p. 25-26 of PDF ) of the fire department that defines the COSTS of such agreements? There should be separate line items in the budget for inter-local agreement dues, assessments, overtime costs for our personnel during those emergencies, etc. Are there budget line items for EACH inter-local agreement? It is easy to say YES to mutual aid, it is another thing to understand the COSTS associated with those agreements in equipment, personnel, time spent away from own municipality, training, etc. What makes this new association better and more cost effective than the one they are being asked to withdraw from? I want to know.
The next agenda item #5 is Rescue Truck Purchase. The details for this item begin on p. 67 in the board packet for June 11. Apparently there was a BTFD Vehicle Purchase committee that spent some time preparing a specifications needs list for a township rescue truck and seeking bids from qualified companies for that truck. This committee of firemen did a summary of the three bids and explanations as to some issues with the bids. The committee did recommend the low bidder for cost and meeting specification requirements at $154,074.
WHAT NEEDS TO BE EXPLAINED is where is the actual bid results? The bid submitted by the companies? The township leadership and taxpayers should be able to see all the line items in those bids not a "summary". What specifications did the firemen committee ask for? In the summary by the committee, it is mentioned that there is a TRADE-IN VEHICLE. These rescue vehicles are very expensive. The lowest bidder is giving the township only $10,000 for that trade in. What rescue vehicle in the current township fleet is being traded in for $10,000 and why? Would it be better to keep that vehicle than trade it in? The last two rescue trucks purchased by the township in Feb. 2011 did not trade in the oldest vehicles, but newer ones that had frequent maintenance issues. How many rescue vehicles are currently in the fleet? Is another one really needed?
A previous firemen committee gathered information for the new emergency vehicle that just arrived at the township. I saw a picture of that truck in the Eccentric. Was this vehicle purchase necessary?
The township fire department became the complete EMS service to "generate revenue" from the insurance companies by transporting to the hospitals. However.....there are costs to having an EMS complete service, not just revenue. One being needing more and more equipment that may not have been needed if the vehicles were used differently. A private EMS service company buys the equipment, pays their employees and charges a fee for service. The township also pays the employees, plus the pensions, health benefits, wages, overtime, buys the vehicles, gas, insurance, maintenance, etc. The private company must make sure that all those costs are LESS than the revenue coming in....or that company is out of business. The township EMS is government paid....all they need to do is raise our taxes to meet all the expenses. Should the township outsource the EMS to a private company to save money?
The public safety millage renewal on August 7, 2012 is just ONE of FIVE public safety millages that keep collecting your tax dollars without demanding fiscal responsibility in the public safety departments. When the taxpayer quits approving millages, the township leadership will be forced to review all the contract language, agenda items and budget items before them much more carefully. Is this rescue truck REALLY needed at this time? How much will that inter-local agreement cost?
Will the leadership and public safety department scare you into spending more money by threatening loss of personnel and suggesting that there will be more danger to your safety and well being? Is the public safety budget unsustainable? Should you vote NO on August 7 ? Just asking...