Update 2-6-18 @ 10:45 pm: Correction on the Courtroom. It is 2 H. Opening statements have been made and one witness was called by the Plaintiff. Next trial date is THURSDAY, Feb. 8, 2018 @ 8:30. It will be just the morning session. More dates and times were discussed. Projected end of the trial is before the end of February.
Monday, February 5, 2018 at 1:30 PM
at the Oakland County Courtroom 2F, second floor,
the long awaited WATER AND SEWER class action TRIAL commences.
Public may attend. No cameras/etc. in the building.
1200 N. Telegraph Rd
Pontiac, MI 48341-0404
Hours: Mon-Fri 8:30am - 4:30pm
Case Summary https://courtexplorer.oakgov.com/
YOUMANS JAMILA vs. BLOOMFIELD TWP
DANIEL P. O'BRIEN
Attorney for Plaintiff:
Gregory D. Hanley
Attorney for Defendant/Bloomfield Township
William P. Hampton formerly w/ Secrest Wardle/ independent in-house attorney for Bl. Twp.
Mark S. Roberts Secrest Wardle
Dennis R. Pollard Secrest Wardle
The Bloomfield Township citizens have had many complaints and questions concerning their water and sewer bills for quite some time.
- At the Feb. 22, 2016 Board of Trustees meeting (agenda #4), a citizen had a petition with 200 signatures asking for a forensic audit of the water and sewer fund.
- At the April 25, 2016 BofT meeting (agenda #8), then Treasurer Dan Devine attempted to get documents/resolutions from the township and to help the more than 200 people who signed the petition requesting at least an independent audit of just the water and sewer fund.
- Again, at the May 9, 2016 BofT meeting, then Treasurer Devine tried to get more data on water and sewer projects. His efforts were repeatedly stopped by the majority of the Board of Trustees. Only Trustee David Buckley supported the effort.
Archived audio/video recordings of the Board of Trustees meetings can be found here.
Since the filing of the lawsuit by J. Youmans in April 2016 the township has given various comments on the status of the issue. The lawsuit started out as filed by one person, but has gone to class action status. The comment that bothers me the most is by Supervisor Savoie who was quoted in June 2017 as saying :
Savoie says he’s “100 percent” sure the lawsuit, which was filed last year, will be dismissed.
“I’m very confident because we didn’t do anything wrong,” he said.
I believe there are issues with the water and sewer rates and budget. I'll let the attorney's litigate that in court.
Hiring the legal firm of Secrest Wardle and also independent township council (as of Jan. 2017) William Hampton has cost the township a lot of money on this lawsuit. Other communities have settled out of court on similar issues.
The Board of Trustees gave Mr. Hampton (upon retiring from Secrest Wardle at the end of 2016) a $10,000 a month contract for all of 2017 and has extended that into 2018 as our "in-house" attorney. The township continues to also hire Secrest Wardle often with monthly fees of over $20,000.
I'm guessing there are other costs involved with this lawsuit. Viewing Payroll and Vouchers documents I noticed that the recently retired Director of the EESD , Wayne Domine, has been receiving checks after retirement. Over $10,000 in 5 payments July through December 2017. Are those checks because he is helping prepare for this court case? Don't know for sure. The Director of the Public Works Department is and has been Tom Trice. I would think he would be doing document searches. However, according to the 2015 Annual Report:
Twp. Supervisor, Leo Savoie, has made it very difficult to review facts of the WATER and SEWER fund/ budget because he eliminated the Water and Sewer Fund from the annual budget review last year. Why? Previous blog on subject
The preliminary budget for upcoming fiscal year 2018-2019 starting April 1, 2018 is not listed under BUDGET on the township website. I did find a preliminary draft copy missing water and sewer fund however in the Nov. 27, 2017 Board of Trustees BOARD PACKET.
What are the rates now being charged? On April 24, 2017, 24 days after the start of the new fiscal year, Water and Sewer rates were presented to the Board and approved. See: Agenda item #5. Minutes of 4-24-17 Board of Trustees
Years ago, the township voted to join SOCWA. The purpose was to save money. However, after making some expensive changes, SOCWA did NOT vote Bloomfield Township into their group. Therefore, while SOCWA members get a discounted rate for water, the township gets a different/higher rate.
Then, the township also raises the rates again to the Twp. citizens, usually on April 1, the beginning of the fiscal year. However, the Water and Sewer Authorities selling/providing water and sewer, usually announce the change in the rate to the communities in early summer. So, several months of higher rates to the township than the township pays to acquire.
FYI: There are Bonds and other Debts associated with the Water and Sewer Fund. I wrote several blogs in late 2015 concerning the Water and Sewer Funds.
A trial date has been set 4 times then rescheduled. So far, this 5th date is a go.
|APR||DATE SET FOR TRIAL ON 05302017 08 30 AM|
|APR||DATE SET FOR TRIAL ON 09112017 08 30 AM Y 08|
|APR||DATE SET FOR TRIAL ON 11062017 01 30 PM Y 08|
|APR||DATE SET FOR TRIAL ON 01082018 01 30 PM Y 08|
|APR||DATE SET FOR TRIAL ON 02052018 01 30 PM Y 08|
|ORD||ORDER FILED DECLARE COMPLIANCE JOINT TRIAL BINDER ORD|
I hope to attend this TRIAL on Monday, Feb. 5, 2018 @ 1:30 PM. I'll try to give updates or perhaps some journalist will cover the story.