Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Turmoil in the Township

Hi All,
Last night ( 4-13-15 Board of Trustees meeting) was interesting.
See my blog written BEFORE the meeting  and view the ACTUAL 4/13/15 meeting here and read the minutes of the meeting here  (when posted).
End result:  Treasurer's salary remains the same and will not be changed at the 2016 election

The 3 elected officials and the 4 trustees heard a lot from the citizens that took the time to show up.
I would say most of  the comments from the public supported a full time Treasurer position with full time pay.

While the agenda item was reported to be about a 2016 election/Treasurer's salary pay rate change ... the reasoning for that supposed need to reduce the pay was clearly initiated by Leo Savoie and his reported personal observations and reported comments from staff and citizens that current Treasurer Dan Devine didn't spend full time at the township doing his job (Savoie's opinion).  Supervisor Savoie gave each trustee a packet at the meeting... which supposedly none had seen previously but gave his reasons for the agenda topic.  This packet was NOT part of the packet given or shown to the public.  I hope it is part of the minutes.  What exactly was written by Savoie?

Dan Devine spoke/responded to the allegations.   He told the audience/trustees how and where he does his full time job as Treasurer and the many other activities he is involved in on behalf of the citizens that benefit the township.  He listed his educational credentials for the job and the many accomplishments over the past 15 years as Township Treasurer.

Another interesting "event"... that clearly seemed staged and planned ahead of time.... was having former Supervisor David Payne, who traveled all the way from his cottage/ home up north... to answer "questions" from the Board of Trustees  about the need and jobs/duties of the Treasurer  AS PART OF THE BOARD DISCUSSION.    His comments were not all kind about  Mr. Devine.  It is important to note that David Payne "chose" Leo Savoie over Dan Devine to be his choice for the next Supervisor when he "retired" aka Quit in the middle of his elected term.   Now, it is rumored.. I have not FOIA this information, but it is rumored that David Payne is paid to be a consultant for the Township.  Was this appearance at this meeting part of that job?  While David Payne was Supervisor... were contracts/languages/ written to allow for pensions to be almost equal to pay?   HIS pension is close to +/- what he was earning when he "retired.   Unbelievable and unsustainable for this community. 

Based on the several efforts of Trustee Corrinne Khederian to try and formulate a motion... and comments by Trustees  Neal Barnett and Brian Kepes to meet again to continue the discussion on the treasurer's salary I thought the Board was going to vote to change the Treasurer's salary at the 2016 election.  Clerk Roncelli was clearly upset by this discussion even being an agenda item.   Trustee Buckley supported Dan Devine and the full time position of Treasurer.
Ms. Khederian claims she votes independently... but quickly withdrew her motion when seeing Mr. Savoie lean forward and announce before the call for the vote that he would not support it.  Savoie could see that HIS VOTE would break a possible 3-3 tie IF THE MOTION went to vote.   Savoie certainly is smart enough to know that the audience was not on his/and the 3 trustee's side. 

(Let's just say it... this SEEMED very  personal/political/  between  Savoie  & Devine..with the Trustees aligning with one or the other)  the audience supported Dan Devine for the most part... and saw that the Board was trying to push him out of Township government  by making the 2016 Treasurer's job PAY... something that Devine would not choose to run for in the 2016 election.)
UNSPOKEN issue in my opinion......There is a large number of employees at or above the retirement age of 50 in the Township.  When they retire, the Prudential Guaranteed Pension Account needs the funding to cover EACH retiree.  FACT:  the Township did NOT put the full $80-85 million bond money into that Prudential account.  Money is required to be deposited in that account as employees retire.  Meanwhile, the Township decided to invest a portion of that $80-85 million bond money.
I believe, more employees are choosing retirement earlier than the Township management expected.
So, some of the money that was EXPECTED to be earning money in investments needed to be transferred out to the Prudential account.   Some of the Bond money is gone because of EXCESSIVE fees being charged to the Township.  How the bond money is invested is questionable.   The investment returns have not been what was expected.   The township 7....who voted unanimously on all decisions to buy the bonds and voted unanimously  how to invest them ... need to quit fighting amongst themselves and get a new investment company....quit giving COLA to retirees.. because those expenses are NOT guaranteed by Prudential and are extra expenses every year out of our operating budget... change/ or end the retiree health benefits/  abide by PA152 / and a lot of other suggestions.   

What is going to happen if we keep taking money out of accounts that were intended to EARN money for the township to pay the debts over the 20 year life of the Bonds? 
Like every other community with public pensions.... the pensions are unsustainable... and when/if the community leadership attempts to deal with the pension problem.. they find there is no easy solution.. or any solution... and wanting to blame someone... for the problem.  I wouldn't be surprised if the 2% raise to the employees this past April was given in exchange for a promise that no one retires this year and triggers more million dollar payments into the Prudential Guaranteed Pension Account this year.   More millages coming in 2016.   The 2% raise... NOT an agenda item... just hidden in the budget... set by Leo Savoie, approved by the Trustees???  which I think is illegal.


 Here are some other changes that could be made... that will help the taxpayer LEARN and UNDERSTAND  more about how their government works and how their tax dollars are spent.

My opinions....

1.  return the government to a 5 day work week
2.  give email addresses for Trustees and post that on the website
3.  start fixing the unsustainable pension / retiree health insurance  problems at contract negotiations and if can't/ start reducing the staff levels to that which can be afforded
4.  put bid proposals out for the investment company, the legal firm, HR&C, the traffic and landscaping review contracts, and other long term/ and short term vendors
5.   In 2011 it was said all public meetings would be Audio/Video/Archived ...but that is not done.... and the Planning and ZBA committees need that.  The true record of what is said at those meetings are vital to those that need to go to court..and the township is often one taken to court.  Why not have accurate records?    
6.  Abolish the Design Review Board that is only the 3 elected officials (Leo,Jan, Dan) and give those agenda items to the Planning Commission or allow the Planning department to permit signs, etc.  that meet the ordinances.  
7.  Make the Financial and Fiduciary Review Reports as an AGENDA item to be reported and discussed/ allow public comment  and to have mandatory quarterly study sessions on all things financial/investments/pensions.
8.  Make more information available FREE on the website...  Contract language, which employees get vehicles,  employee pay/ benefits/   ETC.
9.  Now that payroll and vouchers is in the BOARD PACKET to review... allow public comment on that agenda item.   For instance, since I have argued in the past about the township making donations to non-profits with taxpayer funds as not right.... I see that some non-profits  have now received a check... and no presentation was made before the Board as an agenda item requesting approval for the funds ... is that legal?
10.  Hold several public meetings between Nov. and April to discuss the budget... rather than do it all in one meeting

******   there is so much that needs fixing... start somewhere... and work quickly...  THANKS.  


  1. Great blog! I want to see everyone's pension benefit published!!!

  2. You can see everyone's pension benefit in Bloomfield Township: go to: http://bloomfieldtwpmi.minutesondemand.com/
    choose: Board of Trustees
    choose: Board Packet
    choose: 2015
    choose: Study Session 3/10/15 WAIT for PDF to load it has 35 pages
    go to: pdf pages 13-19 for all current retirees at Bloomfield Township/ monthly pay
    Note: this does NOT include the retiree health benefits they also get /