On May 12, 2014, at the Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees meeting, the Board took action at a public hearing that I think is unacceptable.... and illegal...although our township legal representative said otherwise.
The public hearing was for the repaving the roads in Echo Park Subdivision. A S.A.D. #409 process was established by petition (under some protest) earlier in the year. Bloomfield Township has been "experimenting" with taking over the road repaving from Oakland County in our township. The long established and well run Oakland County subdivision road repaving program under Public Act 246 is now basically a thing of the past in our township. Supervisor Savoie, employees, and the trustees have created and changed and voted on various forms of their process for road repaving. Who knows what the process will be for the next road repaving project?
The total bid prices for this Echo Park subdivision project was 20% more than the petition projected cost ... which creates a MUST have a NEW public hearing, ...according to Public Act 188...which the Township uses for it's authority.
However.... from the minutes of May 12, 2014.... this explanation was given:
Now, when these minutes say "..the association approached the Township.." that means perhaps six (at most) officers or others of that association .....not the entire 51 people who are responsible for the costs for the road repaving and the 51 people who did or did not sign the original petition. At a vote of 5 -1 by subdivision officers (on April 19, 2014) in favor of using subdivision association funds, the subdivision and the township made a DEAL behind closed doors. The township was notified officially on April 23, 2014. The other members of the subdivision apparently got a "newsletter" sent on April 24. I have seen that letter and believe there was mis-information given and the newsletter implied that the decision made was the best.
In essence, the subdivision officers
...agreed to .... AVOID THE LAW... and avoid holding a NEW public
hearing where all 51 people are notified of the law and the right to have a new petition. They basically agreed, behind closed doors, to continue with the scheduled May 12, 2014 public hearing.... and for the TOWNSHIP to NOT send out a notice about the 20% change in costs and the right for a NEW public hearing and NEW petition.
Had the 51 property holders been simply told that the annual principal payment of $592 in the petition would be changed to an annual principal payment of $711....after the bids came in..... a difference of $119 a year (plus interest on all payments); I believe those that wanted improved roads would have signed a NEW petition willingly and quickly to meet construction and legal requirements for the project to be completed this summer. But..is that what the subdivision officers and township employees were afraid of???? not enough of the 51 property owners wanting the repaving project at all? Why did they feel the need to take $46,000 out of their subdivision funds.. when it could easily been paid for over 15 years?
On March 10, 2014
From the documents I have seen from my source, it is clear that the TOWNSHIP made an error on the first petition cost. They used the wrong page of information from HRC (an engineering firm). The solution to correct that error was simple. Follow the law. Sign new petitions with the new cost figures. WHY did the subdivision feel the need to come to the township with a creative "contribution" solution? Why did both groups avoid following the law? Were they afraid of not getting enough signatures on the new costs? Was the township trying to avoid admitting to errors in their road repaving adventures? Did the township tell the subdivision that they would owe the township costs if the project didn't happen? Yes, according to my source. FYI: The Oakland County Road Commission does NOT charge subdivisions when the project stalls or ends prematurely. FYI: I could not find any place on the township website that says costs will be paid by the subdivisions if the project does not go... so why was it said? To influence the decision ?
On May 12, 2014 meeting:
The ENTIRE COST must include the $46,000 "contribution" from the subdivision reserves. The new Resolution that says $497,862 is NOT accurate. $46,000 MUST be added to that figure for the REAL entire cost of SAD #409. That $46,000 money is NOT being financed over the 15 years but is still a cost for the road Repaving Project. A lump sum payment will be made to the township and deposited where? and that payment given to whom ? What item (s) of the ENTIRE cost was subtracted and designated to receive the $46,000 cash payment? The $46,000 "contribution" is for part of the ENTIRE cost of S.A.D. #409... Echo Park repaving. I want to know how and where this $46,000 money is going.
Bottom line, the 51 property owners are paying the new higher cost ANYWAY.... $10,664 per lot....even though that figure is reduced because of the $46,000 "contribution". It was their dues money over the years that is paying the $46,000. FYI: There are some homes in this subdivision who have their driveways on Echo Rd. That is a dirt road that is NOT part of this repaving project. Is any part of that $46,000 part of their dues?
Do they know that? Perhaps they do and don't care.
Why do I write about this? I agree that a subdivision officers can make decisions....but yikes.. $46,000 without consultation with it's members? DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR OFFICERS CAN DO WITH YOUR SUBDIVISION FUNDS WITHOUT YOUR INPUT? I also believe that subdivision officers should follow the law. I also believe that the township should follow the law.... without "creative" changes. THEY should have been concerned as to whether or not others of the 51 properties even knew what was happening. They should have insisted upon the new public hearing and new petition..... they are our TRUSTEES.
At the PUBLIC HEARING on May 12, 2014.... the $46,000 "contribution" was a predetermined outcome...the Trustees knew about this BEFORE the public hearing..How? When? .. . and this "contribution" was NOT DISCUSSED by the township board ... just reported by Supervisor Savoie and confirmed by the lawyer. This is NOT how the S.A.D. #409 previous resolution of how the ENTIRE cost would be paid.... which was the ENTIRE amount to be paid over 15 years. This Township Board did not even mention the $46,000 in their NEW resolution nor did the Board address the former resolution stating how much money they are authorized to bond. That former bond figure is not sufficient for this new cost. So.... is the township just going to get the extra bonding they need.... forget the resolution? or will they correct the resolution for this S.A.D. #409 now that I've made it public? How do we know what the township EVER really does in the bonding process? The payroll and vouchers are never made public and part of the board packets. Can one go to the township and get the figures? I suppose so... but why not just publish them every two weeks?
Now getting back to the title of this blog. What shocked me the most was what happened after the vote. A man from the subdivision leaving the room leaned over and said to me that I was like a dog with a bone because of my 3 minutes of public comment. The person sitting next to me was a township officer (not in uniform)... there to make sure all went well at the meeting. In the hallway after the vote, the group of some subdivision officers and others that wanted the repaving of their subdivision... told me to "stay out of their business"....
THE SMALL GROUP FROM THE SUBDIVISION WERE MOSTLY UPSET THAT THIS AGREEMENT WAS MADE PUBLIC. (the $46,000 "contribution" vs new petition and new public hearing according to PA 188) They and the township didn't want this made public. Sorry. Will the township try this again with other subdivisions?
This subdivision can afford it..according to those in attendance..... and they want new roads. I said it wasn't fair to the many in the subdivision that didn't have the opportunity to follow the law and redo the petition and have a NEW public hearing. Perhaps they have no idea what just happened. What is the Township process for a S.A.D.? What will happen to other subdivisions?
I suggested to the small group of neighbors in the hall that the "good old boy" network was alive and well in Bloomfield Township. Again, they told me to basically butt out. Of course, there were OHCC friends of Savoie and others from that subdivision there talking to me and they denied that premise and were surprised I even thought it possible. Really? Good Old Boy Network?
I guess if you are rich enough.. powerful enough... the lawyers will find a legal loophole... instead of following the letter of the law. Good Grief: It was such an easy law to follow....and would have been fair for all.
PS.....what the township does.... is ALL of our business...