Thursday, April 18, 2013

Bl. Twp. and City of Sylvan Lake - Who gets the DEAL?

Hi All,
Board of Trustees meeting:  Monday, April 22, 2013 @ 7 PM.  View the Board Packet for details.

I'm all for outsourcing government work....hopefully to lower costs and to end extremely high benefits and pensions that the taxpayer is forever responsible to pay.  Also, I believe in giving employment opportunities to the private sector.  Any private sector company bidding for some government jobs (that can be outsourced) is then responsible for wages, benefits and pensions.  The company either "makes it" ...or goes out of business. The taxpayer/government is just responsible to pay the agreed upon contract amount.  The work gets accomplished and there are no long term financial responsibilities to the workers by the taxpayers.

PROBLEM:  Bloomfield Township government is NOT a private sector company.  What if the JOB costs more than bid/awarded?  In the following case, Bloomfield Township government collects ONLY the contract amount from the City of Sylvan Lake, but the Township taxpayer could become the loser as the Township must absorb any costs they spend over the contract amount...often unknown to the taxpayer.  Did you know there was an existing contract with Sylvan Lake?  Has it been mentioned in the budget? Is it mentioned in the Annual Report?  Has there been any cost analysis and record keeping as to who/when/how many hours/ etc. was expended on this contract in 2011 and 2012?

Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees agenda item # 6 on Monday, April 22, 2013 @ 7 PM proposes the township signs an intergovernmental agreement (which is legal) to do the City of Sylvan Lake's annual property tax assessment until the end of 2016 tax year.   This service contract amount:  $21,000 annually paid by the City of Sylvan Lake to the Charter Township of Bloomfield.  Other fees could be paid to the Township, according to the agreement.  Total amount unknown. According to the 2010 Census, there are 809 households (the number of commercial properties was not mentioned).  Bloomfield Township household number from 2010 Census is 16,466 (commercial properties not mentioned) with an assessing budget per year at $840,310.

This AGENDA item is a proposed continuation of an existing agreement with the City of Sylvan Lake that I argued against years ago...and do oppose the agreement again this year.  Click here for my blog from Sept. 21, 2011 and another blog from Sept. 23, 2011

This new agreement has the City of Sylvan Lake residents paying approx. $26 a household...excluding any commercial properties.
Bloomfield Township residents are paying approx. $51 a household...excluding any commercial properties.
Twice as much.  Maybe the contract amount should be around $42,000/year with the City of Sylvan Lake... if there is no other option.
Another point to make here is that Oakland County has the personnel able to perform property tax assessment services for the City of Sylvan Lake (as well as for Bl. Twp.).  Both communities could contract with Oakland County for property tax assessments.  Wonder what they would charge per household?  Can a private company with certified/qualified assessors do the job? At what cost?

Below is the Township budget page for Assessing. The Township argues that the existing township personnel can absorb the assessing work for the City of Sylvan Lake WITHOUT adding any more personnel or costs.  I argue that many of the costs of doing business are not fully covered by the $13,000 (for the non personnel costs) in the Twp. assessing budget such as building costs, utilities, materials ie: computers, systems, and vehicles to travel to another community and associated insurance and liability costs, etc.

The 2011/2012 Assessing budget was actually $765,766.30.   The 2012/2013 estimated final numbers for the assessing department is $831,000.  Costs are going $840,000 for Township residents.  The contract amount has been adjusted by $2000 for the City of Sylvan Lake....from $19,000/year  (2011/2012) to $21,000/year until the end of 2016.  One entry level assessor's pay for a year is more than the Township is collecting from Sylvan Lake.

From what I understand, the Township Assessor's office does NOT get to every Township property every year.  What percentage of the City of Sylvan Lake is evaluated each year?  How often IS YOUR property evaluated?  How many properties get evaluated on that $840,000 yearly budget? Somehow, the assessed value seems to change EVERY year.  How do they know how to change the numbers if they did not visit the property? 
My opinion:  Bloomfield Township taxpayers are SUBSIDIZING the property tax assessment costs for the citizens of the City of Sylvan Lake.
My Question:  WHY? 

I haven't even mentioned the OTHER contracts with the City of Sylvan Lake.  Those contracts will be coming up later this year.  Those are also "deals" ... but not for us. My opinion.

Other AGENDA ITEMS found at the end of this blog.

Assessing Budget for 2013/2014 


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