The SPIN and SCARE TACTICS have started for the millages on the ballot on August 5, 2014. Here is a paragraph (in italics below) from the Bloomfield Township E-News sent on June 19, 2014:
I underlined what I consider the spin and scare tactics!
The Township has four millages up for renewal: two to fund public safety, one for Senior Services and one to continue installing safety paths through the township.
None of these, if passed, will cost taxpayers additional money. All are renewals of existing millages. If they do fail, however, there will be reductions of staff at the police and fire departments and one fire station will close. Senior Services also will be forced to cut back services.
Earlier this year I submitted a FOIA for Bloomfield Township FUND balances. I didn't know some of these existed until I went to an early morning study session at the township. At one of the study sessions I attended, I had questioned the township leadership as to how can you present a balanced budget.... when two millages had expired and had not been renewed yet? Those two millages are now on the August 5, 2014 ballot. The township leadership in March 2014 apparently just assumed everyone will continue to vote yes on whatever is presented. I hope you will vote NO. Leo Savoie did say... that if all the millages FAIL.... there was enough money to meet this years 2014-2015 BUDGET.... so he wasn't worried. He wasn't kidding. The township has almost $98 MILLION in saving FUNDS at the end of the fiscal year 3/31/14. See the list at the end of this blog.
Four millages: Bloomfield Township on the 8/5/14 ballot.
1. One public safety millage DOES NOT EXPIRE until 2016 so why renew now? Don't! Vote NO. Why is township leadership putting it on the ballot now? MY best guess is that the 6 year contract that Dave Payne gave the employees in 2011 has a WAGE OPENER in 2015. So....just like they did in the 2013 wage opener.... in 2015 will the leadership give ALL the employees another 2% RAISE ... including themselves?
VOTE NO ON THIS BALLOT QUESTION. The township will STILL BE COLLECTING this millage for 2014 and 2015 even if the vote is NO. Why renew a ballot question two years early? The estimated money of $2,252,943 will still be collected for the next two years. Vote NO now... have this proposal put on the November 2016 ballot where all money issues belong and more people may be available to vote.
2. The OTHER public safety millage DID expire in 2013 and should not be renewed. Why? because in 2010 the township ADDED a NEW millage for Public Safety @ 1.3 mills.... so this (1.1336 mills) expired millage is no longer needed. The 2010 millage was to maintain the status quo during the economic downturn. Well, in the 4 years of collecting the NEW 2010 millage, the township received $16-20 MILLION additional dollars. In that 4 year period, with that money, employees got raises, equipment has been purchased, and staffing has stayed consistent. That's MORE than keeping the status quo. Therefore, the 2010 millage money is providing more money than the expired millage.... and will until 2020. We don't need the smaller expired millage anymore... the 2010 millage has replaced it and even raises more money. Also, the public safety FUND has over $13 MILLION in savings. Vote NO. Put all money issues on the November ballot.
The threat of closing a fire station and reducing police and fire personnel is a scare tactic. Just last month, the township leadership approved the cost of a new ladder truck for over $650,000. One problem, this was not budgeted in last year, this year, or next year. However, the firemen apparently spent two years researching exactly what truck they wanted. At the Board Meeting, the township leadership didn't even blink or question the cost and how they were going to pay for the ladder truck. WHY? Perhaps because they KNEW the BALANCE in those "FUNDS" that I FOIA earlier. The township HAS MONEY IN THE BANK and can and will spend it as they please.
3. The SAFETY PATH millage is a five year renewal that first started in 1998 and should not be renewed now. Since that time, the township has BANKED in a FUND that can ONLY be spent on safety paths.... $2, 673,640. VOTE NO. There is OVER $2.5 million dollars still at the township to spend only on safety paths. Don't give the township more money for safety paths!
The township leadership has talked about shoveling the safety paths, but made NO decision. The legal team at those meetings said that once the township begins clearing the winter snow, etc., the township can NOT stop doing it. It will become a FOREVER necessity. The COST and LIABILITY is huge. The sidewalks honestly will never be "safe" enough in the winter with snow plow trucks constantly throwing the road slush onto the paths. WHY couldn't the leadership just make the decision PRIOR to the millage about whether or not they were going to do winter shoveling on the sidewalks? Make the leadership tell you how the money will be spent BEFORE you vote. The last two years, the leadership even added employee wages to this safety path millage. How many more employee wages will be added to the safety path expenses in future years?
VOTE NO. There is over $2.5 million in the bank that can ONLY be spent on safety paths. In November of 2016.... this safety path issue can be revisited after the expenditures are known. Putting this issue on hold until a November election is important.
4. The SENIOR SERVICES millage is a ten year renewal and should not be renewed/ go to a fee system instead. A lot of seniors use this facility and love it. So do many people that do NOT LIVE in the township. They get to pay $10 more for a class or a trip. YOU, the taxpayer, get to pay for the class and for the building bonds for the next 20+ years.
The first senior services millage was in AUGUST of 2004. The township leadership did NOT advertise it at all to the public except as minutes of a Board of Trustees meeting see (May 10 and May 24, 2004). You can read the Spring 2004 Township newsletter and see that this millage was totally left out of the ballot issues conversation. Talk about a "stealth" election! The money for the 2004 millage went to the Bloomfield Hills Mature Minglers or aka Greater Bloomfield Seniors ( a Bloomfield Hills School senior CLUB) to establish a senior center. Problem was, that group was a SCHOOL group with people from other communities. Only Bloomfield Township residents were being asked to pay for the programs/costs. Most of the township residents did not know there was a senior services ballot issue in AUGUST 2004.
Many of those non-residents still frequent the township department of senior services at no or little cost. This school senior group benefited from our tax dollars and bond dollars for the services and building now for 6- 10 years. During this time, the Senior Services department of the township has never submitted an ANNUAL REPORT. How has the millage money been spent for the last 10 years? Demand an accounting. How many non-residents use the facilities?
According to the FOIA of Fund Balances.... the Senior Center has managed to BANK $2,389,111 of that 10 years of millage money instead of spending it on services. That almost $2.4 million dollars can ONLY be spent on senior services. So my question is: if the millage brings in $800,000 each year..... then WHY is the senior center threatening that they must cut services if there is currently $2.4 million in the bank to spend....and spend ONLY on Senior Services? That is about 3 years of millage money. The threat of cutting back services at the Senior Center is a scare tactic.
Again, this issue of a senior services millage could be revisited in November 2016 and meanwhile, the senior center can exist until then on the BANKED money. By then, the Senior Center will be able to write an Annual Report and show the citizens how the millage money is spent. Perhaps changes could be made to charge more money for non-residents... or exclude them altogether.
I have heard an argument that the senior services millage is about $50 dollars a year per household... on average.... but that doesn't tell you the entire story of how much the wealthier homes pay... and some of those people may not even be eligible to visit the center. Why can't the seniors pay the same amount? Why do the non-seniors need to pay for the services? We ALL pay for the building.
There is a statistic often mentioned by the senior services department that there are 11,000 "profiles" on record of seniors at the township senior center. If that is the case, I say, forget the millages.... charge an annual FEE of $100 per person for those 11,000 "profiled" seniors and the center can collect $1,100,000 which is $300,000 more than the millage would bring in. The more seniors that sign up... the more annual FEES that could be collected. Then the cost of services can be reduced.
VOTE NO this year on this ballot question. There is almost $2.4 MILLION dollars CURRENTLY in the bank that can be spent ONLY on senior services and that money would more than cover the years until the NOVEMBER 2016 election. Also, think about going from a millage to FEE based in the future. Everyone pays the same price. Fee based would not need a vote. All money issues on a ballot should be in a November election.
Here are the FUND balances at the END of the FISCAL year. The 2014 taxes WILL be collected basically in Sept. and Dec. 2014. The township anticipates that after the 2014 taxes are collected.... the END of the FISCAL year 2015, the FUND balances will be approximately the same.
Edited: June 21, 2014 below chart added