Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Version of Township Meeting Minutes With My Comments and Opinions

Hi All,
All I can say is try to watch the Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees meeting of November 28 to witness what I have been sitting through for the last 2 years. You will then realize why the audio/video taping of the public meetings is ESSENTIAL for open and transparent government and should be extended to all public meetings.  I'm sure the printed minutes will not reflect all that occurred.
This blog is different from others.  Be prepared.  I am in my "hi all" rant mode.  Long time email friends will know what I mean.  Following is my "unofficial" minutes, personal opinions and comments.

From the agenda of November 28, 2011 
My version and opinions of the Board of Trustees meeting

Item # 4:  Consider Award of Bid for Refurbishment of Emergency Vehicle- Presented by Fire Chief Piche'

The Board unanimously approved the expenditure of $146,373.17  for the fire department to customize an old delivery truck (purchased in April?  for just under $30,000 from Penske Corp) with 100,000 miles on the engine into a specialized vehicle.   Total project cost:  approx.  $176,373.17  assuming no problems or changes with the "refurbishment" contract.

Fire Chief Piche' had a power point presentation prepared for this project presentation.  This old truck will be refurbished: with lights, sirens, graphics, paintings, a flip up sign to help with traffic direction around the emergency, etc.   For some reason, Pimp My Ride television show came to my mind during the presentation.  Mean comment, yes, but what is the Township thinking? 29 firefighters forming a committee lasting  6 months to come up with how they can make this old truck into a sleek Township vehicle?  Is this supposed to be showing that the Township is "saving money" by a do-it-yourself project?

The purpose of the vehicle: to store all kinds of emergency equipment in one place rather than have it stored in several existing trailers pulled by pickup trucks.  Reason:  get the equipment deployed quicker to the accident scene. Everything goes in the first trip.   Oops, what if there is more than one emergency at the same time?  Where does that one truck go first?  Would it be better to have the water rescue equipment on one trailer and the HazMat equipment on another?  Would it be better to spend the $170,000 on more rescue equipment and more non-motorized trailers and have each fire station equipped than one "refurbished" truck at central fire station holding everything?

What have 29 of the 54 Township firefighters been doing since April 28 of 2011?  Field trips! Spending "countless hours of research and development" including visiting other fire departments in many communities in the state viewing what fire equipment storage vehicles they have.  Oh, and visiting or considering  7 different "fabricators" specializing in "custom" truck work.  Five of those firms actually bid on the specifications for that truck as determined by the committee of 29.  The transformation of the old delivery truck into a new fire department storage truck....oh, sorry.....Special Operations and Rescue (S.O.A.R.) vehicle will soon be on the streets for future emergencies, hopefully, only one at a time.

 Thankfully, the selling of the existing trailers and vehicles currently being used to transport specialized equipment needed in a variety of emergency situations was NOT part of the motion, although mentioned in the report as the fire department's intention.  However, I won't be surprised if some day those vehicles that cost a pretty penny when new, will be sold for pennies on the dollar.  The fire department believes this old refurbished truck will provide 15 years of service to the Township.  I don't believe it.  Remember the "million dollar lemon" fire truck the Township had for 10 years?

That vehicle was brand new.  Broken the first day of use and out of service for a year.

I wonder how many dollars were spent on travel and lodging for those hours of "research and development" by 29 firefighters? Was there overtime hours, too?   Don't worry, it's just YOUR tax dollars.

Item # 5  Introduction of 2012-2013 Preliminary Budget--Presented by Supervisor Savoie

There wasn't much of an "introduction" other than to indicate that the figures represented a balanced budget.  The Board went right to public comment.  I was the only one there that spoke.  I made comments and asked questions as quickly as I could in three minutes.  I only reviewed the first 8 pages of the 36 budget pages at home.  I had my 3 minutes worth of questions just from those pages so I quit reading the other 28 pages.

The most interest FACT after I sat down from my 3 minutes about the budget:  Mr. Savoie chose not to respond to my concerns or to try to answer any of my questions.  Mr. Devine did make a stab at answering 2 questions.  The others followed their leader. Silence.

The Budget and the PUBLIC Review/Concerns

The way I understood the budget issue from this meeting:  THE PUBLIC HAS 90 DAYS to visit Mr. Savoie and bring him your concerns before the final vote on the budget in March. Mr. Savoie will answer your concerns in his office.  OK.  That sounds like Township controlling the issues, keep the issues contained and out of the news.   I will not do that!  Public issues are discussed in public!

Sorry Mr. Savoie, the honeymoon ended. Your 100 days have passed.  There was hope at one point that you would be different. However, your style of leading the Township is just more of the same...and that's a shame.  Is that what "appointments" to an elected position are supposed to achieve? Replace your position with a like-minded person and eliminate the voting public from the process?    

What is currently on Cable 15  TV is  Township produced "spin" stories starring Township employees and leaders with predetermined messages and outcomes.  The public is not being told all that is going on in the Township.  Has the Township sought out opposing views?  No.  Doing that might be considered as open and transparent government.  Why would the Township want to do that?

Agenda item:  Public Comment
For the third Board of Trustees meeting in a row I have asked the Township to announce on their website the FACT that there are terms EXPIRING for various Boards in the Township effective Jan. 1, 2012.  These positions are "appointed" by either the Supervisor or the entire Board of Trustees.  No comment was given by any Trustee and no indication was given that they were interested in communicating to Township citizens that may be interested in serving on those committees.  Silence.

THEREFORE:  I will tell you.

There are 3 positions expiring for the ZONING Board of Appeals.
There are 2 positions expiring for the PLANNING Commission
There are 5 positions expiring for the BOARD of REVIEW  (see Dec. 14, 2009)

SUBMIT a letter of INTEREST and a resume to the CLERK or SUPERVISOR if you wish to be considered for any of those positions.  Don't plan on being automatically called in for an interview, however.  This Township has a history of predetermined outcomes.....and Board appointments are no exception. Be proactive, turn in your resume in person and ask if they have time for a conversation with you about your interests.

The "appointments" will be made BEFORE those terms expire Jan. 1, 2012.  Traditionally, those appointments are made in December.  The only scheduled Board of Trustees meeting is December 12 @ 7pm.   Time is of the essence if you wish to be considered.  Good luck.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Liquor License Applications in the Township

Hi All,

The Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees took action at the November 28 meeting concerning two different liquor license requests.  The actions taken by the Township still result with both groups being able to continue in their individual efforts to obtain a liquor license approval.

The entire meeting can be viewed on Comcast Cable 15 on Tuesday, Nov. 29 @ 7pm. (Tonight)
The Township website will also archive the meeting on video on demand.

 Class C License
The Board voted unanimously to rescind the Class C License Resolution for the Butterfly Group, LLC.    In October of 2009, they requested the liquor license along with a dance and entertainment license. That permit was eventually denied by Township police and the Butterfly Group withdrew all permits in May 2011.  Captain Cook, Township Police, stated that the Butterfly Group, LLC , which has changed its membership, will submit another application and reapply at the state level soon for a Class C liquor license at 37000 Woodward Ave. located at the SE corner of Woodward and Big Beaver. That location is currently under construction.

Tavern License
The Honey Tree Grille, located in the shopping center at the SE corner of Maple and Lahser, had applied for a Tavern License (beer and wine) but the MLC at the state level rejected the resolution because of the way the resolution was worded by the Township.  The Township Trustees approved new language for a resolution as indicated as needed by the state.  The new resolution will be forwarded to continue the process of obtaining a Tavern License by Lindos Enterprises for the Honey Tree Grille.  The restaurant opened for business in February 2011.

Both issues will need to come before the Township Board of Trustees again.

Class C Transfer of a liquor license  11/14/11
At the November 14 Board of Trustees meeting, this motion was made and approved concerning another liquor license:
MOTION by Barnett and SUPPORT by Kepes to APPROVE the transfer of the Class C Liquor License from the Restaurant Group, Inc. to Roadside Bar & Grill, Inc. to include 1727 S. Telegraph Road, 820 Fairfax, and the outdoor service area AND that the applicant must sign an agreement, which states that the Class C Liquor License will not be removed from the Township
 Roadside B & G is currently renovating the former Brandy's restaurant with earlier stated intentions of opening before the end of the year.  

Friday, November 25, 2011

Proposed 2012-2013 Township Budget To Be Discussed: Mon. 11/28 @ 7pm

Hi All,
There is a Board of Trustees meeting on Monday, November 28, 2011 @ 7 pm.   The Township will present the 2012-2013 preliminary budget.  That proposed budget is in the BOARD PACKET found on the Township website. This is the taxpayers first look at what the Township leaders are proposing for the next fiscal year.  Plan on reviewing it this weekend and attending the meeting on Monday for more details and discussion.  You will have 3 minutes to comment.  There will not be a final vote on the budget as that vote traditionally comes in March.  Keep in mind that a 2.5 public safety millage expires in 2012.  If the Township proposes a renewal... but that fails, what contingencies are planned?

There is a new look to the Bloomfield Township website as it relates to the AGENDAS of the various public meetings.
The link that takes you to agendas is still there, but that page no longer gives the date of the meeting which is very unfortunate.  If you go to the above listed site, you then must click on the "Agenda and Board Packet" words which then takes you to another link which is "Welcome to Minutes On Demand".

The Township CHANGED the website.   Here is some "helpful information" from the new site.

In an attempt to better serve the residents, we have created a searching tool that will allow you to view AGENDAS and MINUTES. Not only will you be able to look at the current meeting information but you will be able to search past meetings for specific meeting detail.


Archives are saved as PDF files. Adobe Reader is free software that lets you view and print Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) files. To access PDF files you need Adobe Reader installed. If you do not have Adobe Reader on your computer, you can download it below.

Just in case you have trouble getting Adobe Reader downloaded to your computer, here is the:

Board of Trustees meeting agenda for MONDAY, November 28, 2011.

1. Approve Board Minutes of November 14, 2011
2. Consider Approval to Rescind Class C Liquor License Resolution for the Butterfly Group – Presented by Captain Steve Cook, Police Department
3. Consider Approval of Class C Liquor License Resolution for Honey Tree (Lindos Enterprises) – Presented by Captain Steve Cook, Police Department
4. Consider Award of Bid for Refurbishment of Emergency Vehicle – Presented by Fire Chief Piche’
5. Introduction of 2012 – 2013 Preliminary Budget – Presented by Supervisor Savoie
6. Consider Approval of the 2012 Budget for the 48th District Court – Presented by Supervisor Savoie
7. Consider Approval of the 2012 Board of Trustees Meeting Schedule – Presented by Clerk Roncelli
8. Approve Payroll and Vouchers for 11/28/2011
9. Public Comment

Once you are at the site of:  Minutes On Demand,   also click on Board Packet found under Board of Trustees.  This is where all the details to be discussed at the meeting can be found.  The  PDF file of the Board Packet can be viewed two different ways.  In the header bar you will see the words: Layout  or Files.  The board packet automatically appears as Layout.  If you click the word Files...I think it is so much easier to read.  Try it out.  Choose the format (layout or files) that suits you best.

There are 36 pages to print if you want a hard copy of the preliminary proposed budget.
This is the first time the actual budget figures are given for the audited 2010-2011 budget. 
The actual figures for 2009-2010 have gone off the budget page.

Fire Department on Agenda for Equipment on/in a Vehicle
Please read agenda #4....award department vehicle refurbishment....
The first sentence in board packet letter says, "...department has acquired a "delivery" style truck...."  
My first thoughts:  How did the Township "acquire" the truck?  Gift? Bought? Cost? When? new vs used vehicle? etc.  What did the truck cost? 
The "refurbishing", if approved, will cost: $146,373.17.  
Was any of this in the #978 vehicle purchase budget?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Township Library Considers Televised Meetings

Hi All,
During public comment at the November 14  Board of Trustees meeting, Library Board member, Pam Williams, mentioned that the Township Library Board was considering televising their own library board meetings.

Art Aisner, editor of Bloomfield-Bloomfield HillsPatch, was in attendance and followed up with a story on his online paper.  Click here to read his article on the Township Library.  His article gives you all the information and links to follow. 

Patch is delivered to my email every morning by 6 am.  There are local stories that concern my community as to government, schools, businesses and people.  I love that the Patch site allows for comments to be posted instantly.  Sometimes a lively debate of the issue will occur.

Here is my comment that I posted on Bloomfield-BloomfieldHillsPatch about the Township Library and potential televising: 

 Marcia Robovitsky
How can a televised meeting or program, that can be recorded, saved, shown on Cable 15 and archived on the library website be considered ".. to service only a small group".... ?
The recorded meetings would be on the "shelf". It could be chosen and viewed. The idea that the archived program can be "checked out" either on Cable 15 or the library website is no different than other items that can be "checked out" in the physical library building.
The difference is: Those archived televised meetings would share the Bloomfield Township Library history on a month to month basis. As mentioned in this artlcle, the library board meeting often involves various staff members sharing ideas, programs, new materials and even budget matters. It's our taxpayer dollars being spent, please, share all the details with the public on televised meetings. Archive those meetings on the library website for future "check-out". Library Director Karen Kotulis-Carter is a friend to the Township taxpayers and understands the value of open and transparent meetings. Hopefully she can convince the board members of the importance and lasting value of this new proposed project.

FYI: from the library website:

Library Holiday Hours

The Library will close at 5:30pm on Wednesday, November 23 and is closed all day on Thursday, November 24 for Thanksgiving.  The Library will reopen on Friday, November 25, 2011 at 9:30am.  Our virtual door is always open at!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Bloomfield Township Budget and Over 167 Fleet Vehicles and 55 Pieces of Equipment

Hi All,
The next budget (2012-2013) will be before the the Board of Trustees in March 2012 for approval.  Before then, there will be a public hearing on the budget.  You will have only 3 minutes to voice your opinion or concerns. The time to start looking at the budget is now. The time to take your concerns to the Township is now. What line items concern you?  Supervisor, Leo Savoie, has often mentioned that his door is open for questions and conversations. The time to try to influence the Township as it relates to the budget is now.  Waiting for your 3 minutes at the public hearing may be too late.
I have been reviewing the budget as it relates to line item #978 "vehicle purchase".  I have written about the police vehicles and the fire department vehicles. The water/sewer/road departments have special equipment and vehicles that are needed for those jobs. There are also many other cars and pickup trucks, etc. owned by the Township for the many other departments. What is the Township policy for vehicle purchases? 

I've attended most of the Board of Trustees meetings since March 2010.  There have been some agenda items to approve special vehicles and pieces of equipment. However, I have not seen any proposed purchases of vehicles (ie: for the elected officials or the department heads) as an agenda item for discussion and vote by the Board of Trustees.  With the statistic of "over 167 fleet vehicles" in the Township along with "55 pieces of equipment", all vehicles should be put out for bids for the Township to get the best price.  Those bids should be presented at a public meeting and decisions made by the Board of Trustees.

Are there bids for the cars, pickup trucks, etc.  in the motor pool fleet?   I have not seen official minutes on the Township website for many motor pool vehicle purchases.  I do know for a fact that a local car dealership donated $30,000 to the SOS (Save Our Services) campaign.  SOS was formed to promote the YES  vote for a new ten year 1.3 mills tax that was on the ballot  February 2010.  Did the $30,000 donation by the dealership to the SOS campaign help secure a Township contract for the vehicles?  I don't know.  I don't know which dealership has ever been awarded vehicle contracts. There has not been open and transparent action taken at a public meeting of the Board of Trustees as to most of the purchases and costs of the over 167 Township fleet vehicles.  When have the purchase approvals been made and who made the decisions?

Should the taxpayers supply cars, either purchased or leased, for employees? If yes, which employees?  Do some employees have a vehicle 24/7?   The budget does not identify a vehicle(s) for each of the many central office departments as an expense. For instance, if the Supervisor has a vehicle 24/7 paid for by the taxpayers and serviced and fueled by the Township motor pool, should those expenses be budgeted to his/her department?  How many vehicles are available to each department?  How many employees are authorized to drive Township vehicles? How many employees have Township vehicles 24/7?  Could line item #978 "vehicle purchase" be an area for cost cutting in the next budget?

"Greater openness in government helps not only prevent corruption, but lays out exactly how public entities spend taxpayer dollars.”  anonymous  ......but does reflect my thoughts.....

The Motor Pool division maintains the entire Bloomfield Township fleet except for contracted out repairs.  In the 2010 Annual Report for Public Works this division reports that there are:
  • over 167 fleet vehicles
  • 55 pieces of equipment
  • used 90,000 - 100,000 gallons of unleaded fuel
  • used 50,000 gallons of diesel fuel
Bloomfield Township is approximately 26 square miles. The 2010 Census reports a population of 41,070 people with 31,840 being of voting age.  There are 17,799 households (homes, apt., group homes, etc.) with 1333 of those households being vacant at the time of the census.

Somewhere I read or heard that the Township owned $14,000,000 in vehicles. The actual number would be an interesting statistic to know.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fire Department Vehicles and the Budget

The Bloomfield Township Fire Department has a budget separate from the police budget and the dispatch budget.  However, all three departments are grouped under the Public Safety Fund which share the revenue generated from the many dedicated public safety millages,  property taxes transferred from the General Fund, and from EMS Transport fees (among other sources).  For the past three years, that total revenue has been fairly steady at or above $24,500,000.

From the Public Safety Fund Budget:
Fire department total expenditures have been over $10,700,000 for the past three years.
Line item #978:  vehicle purchase for the fire department:
2009-2010 @ $181,093  
2010-2011 @ $250,000  
2011-2012 @ $382,000

Ladder Truck Purchase
On July 26, 2010, the Board of Trustees met at a Study Session. One of the items discussed was the fire engine that was purchased in 2002 with Public Safety dedicated millage money.
"A fire truck was purchased from E-One in 2002 and since that time many problems have occurred with this vehicle. On the first day of service, the truck broke down and was unusable for a year. The truck, outfitted with a Bronto Skylift aerial/articulating device, has been out of service since July 18, 2009, due to safety issues with the aerial platform."
This revealing report goes on to discuss the "settlement" and "costs" associated with this 2002 fire truck and it's replacement.
"E-One has offered the Township a settlement proposal (Bronto is not participating), in which the Township will purchase a new 78’ aerial ladder fire truck from E-One for
$722,203.00, less a settlement discount of $151,663.00 and a trade-in credit of $350,000.00, for a total out-of-pocket cost of $220,540.00. "
  • How did the almost one million dollar 2002 vehicle break down on the first day?  
  • What was done to replace the vehicle on that first day?  
  • Why did it take until the summer of 2010 to make a final "settlement" concerning this vehicle?  
  • How many actual fire runs did this vehicle perform?
  • Why is the "settlement" offering only a 78' aerial ladder fire truck when the original purchase fire truck was a 100' aerial ladder truck?  
  • How much of the taxpayers' dollars were wasted with this purchase? 
  • How many taxpayers knew about the "costly million dollar lemon" in the fire station?
More importantly, why was all this information discussed at a Study Session and not at a regular Board of Trustees meeting?  The public is permitted to attend Study Sessions, it's just that not many know when one is scheduled. The attendees at a study session are most likely to be just staff, trustees and lawyers with a "need to know" concerning the agenda items.  Don't know the date this "settlement agreement and authorization to order a new fire truck" was approved at a public meeting of the Township Board of Trustees.  Was it?   However, I did find:

The Fall 2011 Newsletter (p.5), the new fire truck was proudly announced in the newletter  and showcased at the Open House.
"On June 17, after almost two years of research and planning, Central Fire Station took delivery of an E-ONE 2011 Typhoon HP78 ladder truck."
Wow...  Research and Planning? The "spin" stories continue at the Township.
The 2002 Public Safety Millage that provided the million dollars for that "lemon" of a fire truck is expiring in 2012.  Before we renew any millage, I think it is time for a reality check at the Township as to what kind and how many vehicles the taxpayers are willing to purchase.  As a taxpayer, I believe that "lemon" should have been exposed the very first day.  For ten years most taxpayers believed we had a viable 100' aerial ladder fire truck in the fleet.  Open and transparent may be uncomfortable at times, but necessary for the trust and confidence one expects from the leadership.  What will the leaders lead us to believe with the next millage and budget?

Two Rescue Vehicles Purchased
On Feb. 14, 2011, the Board of Trustees approved the purchase of 2 rescue trucks at a price of $314,671 less trade in value of $26,000 for 2 "older" rescue vehicles in the Township fleet. The trade- in price seems very low.  Could a higher price been gained by selling the vehicles to another community?  Was that considered?  Final price approved for the 2 rescue trucks: $288,671.28.

What was not recorded in the minutes was the fact that the "trade in" vehicles were NOT the "oldest" rescue trucks in the fleet.  The department traded in vehicles that were causing a lot of down time with repairs.  More "lemons"?   How old are the oldest rescue trucks that are still owned?  At millage renewal time, remember that  newer vehicles were traded in for $13,000 a piece.  The Township kept older trucks.

Where are all the "utility" vehicles and cars for the fire department leadership budgeted?  Line item #978 needs closer review in the 2012-2013 budget.

In the 2010 Annual Report for the Fire Department, Fire Chief, Dave Piche wrote:
"...... it is a goal of the fire department to achieve the upgrade of all four of the front line fire engines to ALS status over the next three years......"

Fire Department vehicles:  copied in part,  from the 2010 Annual Report:
"Central Fire Station is located at 1155 Exeter, in Bloomfield Township’s Municipal Government Complex. It houses one Paramedic Engine, one Incident Command Vehicle, one Reserve Paramedic Rescue, one Technical Rescue Vehicle, and numerous staff and utility vehicles.

Fire Station 2 is located at 1063 Westview, on the Township’s northeast side. This fire station houses one Fire Engine and one Paramedic Rescue to protect its district. A Paramedic Lieutenant and three firefighters, including at least two paramedics, are assigned to this station.

Fire Station 3 is located at 4151 W. Maple on the Township’s southwest side. This fire station houses one Paramedic Fire Engine, one Paramedic Rescue, and one Reserve Fire Engine. A Paramedic Lieutenant and 3 paramedic firefighters are assigned to this station.

Fire Station 4 is located at 2389 Franklin Road on the Township’s north side. This
fire station houses one Fire Engine, one Paramedic Rescue, one Reserve Fire Engine and an Air Supply Trailer. A Paramedic Lieutenant and three firefighters, including at least two paramedics, are assigned to this station.
The Bloomfield Village Fire Department continues to provide fire services for the Bloomfield Village Association as a volunteer organization of village residents. The Village Fire Department is staffed by 17 volunteer firefighters and a full time/paid Deputy Fire Chief. Our department operates one Fire Engine and one four wheel drive utility vehicle from the Village Fire Station, which is located at 3595 Bradway.
FYI:  The Village Fire fund budget is authorized by a Special Tax Assessment District. These monies are billed by Bloomfield Township in the Winter Tax Statement to all properties in the Birmingham school District No. 34. "

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Police Department Vehicles and the Budget

Hi All,
The Township police department apparently has 8 vehicles on their lot that have never been used according to the City of Sylvan Lake website minutes from 8/25/11.  Those minutes indicate the Township vehicles were purchased to be used as "back-up" vehicles.  Perhaps the Township was anticipating contracting police and dispatch with Sylvan Lake?

Bloomfield Township Police Chief,  Kirt R. Bowden,  stated in his 2010 letter to the Board of Trustees in the Annual Report that:
"...the Bloomfield Township Police Department has made deep cuts as an organization..."

If that is true, why would there be 8 unused vehicles at the police department ?

The Bloomfield Township budget has a line item #978 that is described as "vehicle purchase". Here are the police budget figures:
2009-2010 @$229,080      2010-2011 @ $240,000     2011-2012  @  $240,000

Bloomfield Township government is not open and transparent.

I do not recall those vehicle purchases on any Township Board of Trustees agenda.
Over $700,000 has been given to a company(s) for the purchase of vehicles over the past three years. 
Where in the minutes of the Board of Trustees were these vehicle purchases/leases authorized?
Who were the companies that bid?
Where did the Township eventually buy or lease these vehicles? Where did the old vehicles go?
When did the purchases/leases occur?
Why were the purchases necessary (last vehicle old/poor repair/damaged, etc.) ?
What kind of vehicle was purchased/leased? 
How many vehicles were purchased/leased each year?

From the 2010 Annual Report for the Police Department I found the following statistics for the police vehicle fleet.

Vehicle Type # In Fleet
Police Patrol Units 20
Police Motorcycles 2
Animal Welfare Units 2
Identifications Van 1
Village Police Units 2
Unmarked Police Units 16
Other Utility Vehicles 4
Prisoner Transport Van 1

The police department budget does not indicate "deep cuts" as to vehicle purchases. The budget also shows the total expenditures of the police department to be over twelve million dollars a year.  That is true for all of the past three years.  If "deep cuts" are made, shouldn't the expenditures  go down each year?

The really "deep cuts" in the Township have been to your property's value. The Township is collecting less revenue. Well, they were, until the February 2010 millage vote,  where 1.3 mills was passed by a narrow margin. That millage was proposed so the Township could recover lost revenue due to the economy and falling property values and to maintain the current level of services.  That new 10 year tax is classified as general obligation, not public safety. That money may be spent in any department of the township. However, the approx.  4.4 million dollars collected each year on that 2010 tax levy has largely been transferred from the General Fund into the Public Safety Fund to maintain the necessary revenue to meet police, dispatch and fire department expenses.  Those public safety expenses have not gone down, but have remained fairly constant over the past three years.  So, where are the "deep cuts" in the budget?  Same revenue, same expenses....

The Township has been seeking revenue by going to the public for more taxes and looking outside our borders for added work.  It's time to start making "deep cuts" in all Township departments.  A hard look at line item #978: vehicle purchase, would be a great start.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Vehicle Purchase Approved/ Township Claims Money in Budget

Hi All,
The Vactor sewer cleaning machine purchase was approved at last night's Board of Trustees meeting. The meeting can be viewed tonight @ 7 pm on Comcast Ch. 15.   The presentation by Mr. Trice was much more detailed than the Board Packet information.  That usually isn't the case. Did someone read my previous blog?  All the details of an issue should be in the Board Packet and the discussion of the issue by the Board Members should be during the public meeting. I often get the feeling that the Trustees discuss issues prior to the meeting. The vote to purchase was unanimous.

Where is the money in the budget?

According to the presentation, the want/need/planning to purchase has been going on for 4 years.  Where the money is located in the budget was explained during the meeting, but quite frankly, I didn't understand the explanation.  To me, the line item that runs throughout the Township budget for vehicle purchase is # 978.  The Water/Sewer budget does NOT have that line item and has not for the previous two years. When you look at the negative numbers for year end Water/Sewer Fund totals for the past two years and the expected total for this fiscal year ($2,066,018) ($1,019,600) ($738,500)  I continue to wonder where is the funding for a $380,688.75 sewer cleaning machine?  I will agree that the machine is old but functioning well.  The Township has an agreement with West Bloomfield for emergency use of their machines should the Township vehicle need repair.  Could this purchase have waited a year and for a line item #978 to identify the large purchase?  The fixed price is good until 2013.  The old machine was not traded in, but will serve as backup. It must be stored inside the new maintenance building. 

Storm sewer maintenance and storm sewer permits are entered into a different fund.  Why?   Those 2 items were found in the I & R Fund which received it's funding from the General Fund, your tax dollars.  Total expenditure there is around $80,000 per year.  Otherwise, I believe all the other expenditures come from revenue generated through your water and sewer bills (not "tax" money, but your money none-the-less) and other revenue sources or fees.  With repeated year end totals in the red, it looks like either your water and sewer bills will increase or the Township leaders need to make some budget cuts. 

Another Fund called: Drain @ Large  had a permitted millage increase from 0.28 mills to 0.36 mills this year.  That is tax dollars that must be collected to cover the costs of the bonds.  Will that millage rate increase again because of continuing loss of revenue due to lower property values?  You don't VOTE on those millage increases at the ballot box, it just happens.  The 2012-2013 budget is being developed now with a Board of Trustees vote to approve coming soon.  Stay tuned, stay informed.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Week of Nov. 14 Township Meetings - Proposed Vehicle Purchase

Hi All,
Bloomfield Township website lists 3 meetings for this week.  Click to get to each posted agenda.  As of this posting time, Design Review Board has not posted the agenda. It should appear at least 18 hours before the scheduled time. It is important to review agendas to learn about Township issues and the ZBA to learn of any variances requested by your neighbors.
  1. Board of Trustees, Monday, November 14 @ 7 pm
  2. Zoning Board of Appeals, Tuesday, November 15 @ 7 pm
  3. Design Review Board, Wednesday, November 16 @ 2 pm

The proposed purchase is on the 11/14  Agenda for discussion and the  Board of Trustees will take a vote for approval or denial.
The PROPOSED purchase of a Vactor sewer cleaning machine  apparently will be purchased through this website.  Unfortunately, the Township did not include any forms or information about exactly what model number and accessories this proposed vehicle will have. The price quoted is: $380,688.75

The Township already owns one Vactor sewer cleaning machine that was approved in June 1998/ bought in 1999.  In fact, that machine was on display at the Township Open House and it appeared to be in good working condition.  The Board Packet information indicated the existing machine size was ordered in 1998 to fit in the old Public Service building.  Now that the Township has a larger and newer building, it seems that the employees want bigger and better machines.  A reason for the purchase: "The new machine will be much more efficient due to its larger holding tanks."  Being old and in poor repair was not given as a reason for the new purchase. Will a bigger machine be able to service the existing smaller Township buildings and their drains?

The Board Packet information says the 2011/2012 Water Budget contains funding for a new Vactor sewer cleaning machine. However, I did NOT find that to be true. The Township Budget does not say that.  At least, I could not find that information on page 43-45 of the budget in the water/sewer department.  In fact, that page shows the fund is 3/4 of a million dollars in the red.

Information given in the Board Packet indicates that the City of Rochester Hills set up a program for other municipalities to order this machine. While the Township said they have until 2013 to order, I saw the date 2016 on the website. Which date is correct?  At any rate, if the existing machine works, and since no "trade in" value was mentioned, will the Township keep the existing vehicle, too? 

The Board of Trustees should vote NO on this request. No good reason was given for a new purchase.  No details were provided to the Trustees or the public about how the $380,688.75 was determined.  The opportunity to purchase has several more years.  The budget does not provide the funds. The economy is struggling, home values are still in decline and I'm one taxpayer that will not vote to increase my taxes when I see excessive or unnecessary spending by Township leaders.
 View the Board of Trustees meeting from home
Only the Board of Trustees meeting will be recorded and shown later on Comcast Cable 15 and on the Township Video On Demand website.   AT&T's U-verse cable is not available.
The Oakland Press sometimes will live-stream the meeting on their website.
The Township is anticipating full camera installation at Township Hall and to have the ability to record live meetings by late January 2012.
Perhaps then, the Township will approve recording all public meetings.

      Wednesday, November 9, 2011

      City of Sylvan Lake Approves Public Safety Millage

      Hi All,
      I am pleased to report that out of the 1497 registered voters in the City of Sylvan Lake, 711 voters cast their ballot in the Public Safety millage.  The final tally was 431 YES votes versus 290 No votes.  The City of Sylvan Lake will to able to afford their own police department.

      City of Sylvan Lake minutes of June 29, 2011 Study Session
      Discussion of Police Department
      • "Chief Silver explained the Police Reserve program that has been started. He explained that they started working on this program about a year ago. He explained the interview and hiring process the potential reserves went through along with training at the reserve academy, background check and medical screening. The hiring process was treated the same as a full or part time officer. He went on to explain the various duties the reserves perform."

      The minutes of this study session continue with detail on how the police chief was proceeding to help make his department more cost effective.  Apparently, his vision for the police department won the voters confidence.  The reserve officers currently serving the City of Sylvan Lake most likely promoted the yes vote by providing excellent service and visibility to the residents.

      I applaud the efforts of the City of Sylvan Lake leaders to keep all residents informed of the difficult decisions before them to keep their city viable and on budget.  Their power point presentation clearly informed them about outsourcing the police and dispatch departments.  Police Chief Silver actively promoted the police reserve option.  The voters were asked to make a choice at the ballot box.

      As a resident of Bloomfield Township, we were not informed on the ongoing negotiations with the City of Sylvan Lake.  Had this millage failed in Sylvan Lake, Bloomfield Township was prepared to perform those police and dispatch duties for a "fee".  Bloomfield Township police vehicles and officers would have been servicing Sylvan Lake.  Where were our leaders in keeping the Township residents informed?  Our tax dollars were part of the proposed negotiations.  Where was our choice?

      Monday, November 7, 2011

      Sylvan Lake "NO" Vote May Impact Bloomfield Township Public Services

      Hi All,
      On Tuesday, November 8, 2011, the residents of the City of Sylvan Lake will go to the polls to either pass or fail a 5 mills issue for Public Safety.  If they pass the millage there will be funds to manage their own police force and dispatch.  If the vote is no, they will outsource the police and dispatch and and it appears that Bloomfield Township may perform the jobs for a "fee".

      Below is a portion of a direct quote from an email I received on 11/3/11 from Township Supervisor, Savoie.  He was responding promptly to my email questioning "shared services" and WHEN will the Township residents have input as to whether or not "sharing services" is a good idea:
      • " As I have indicated to you in the past we have been in discussion with several municipalities exploring shared services. The Board of Trustees are aware of these discussions. Unless they become meaningful I do not believe it is in anyone’s  best interest to have public dialog. Once they do become meaningful I can assure you there will be open discussions regarding the benefits and pitfalls of any shared services."
      On Nov. 8...IF the City of Sylvan Lake does NOT pass the millage for Public Safety...Bloomfield Township police and dispatch MAY be handling the duties.  I would argue that the "discussions" with Sylvan Lake are "meaningful" now and the only people out of the discussions are the Bloomfield Township taxpayers.

      Sylvan Lake residents apparently have seen a power point presentation (click on Millage presentation) about what the Township may offer and at what "fee"  as to police and dispatch operations for Sylvan Lake... IF the millage fails.  It appears Bloomfield Township is their primary choice for police and dispatch service ...IF the millage fails.

      How did I arrive at this conclusion?

      As I have mentioned before, I read the City of Sylvan Lake regular minutes and study session minutes when they are finally posted.  It is unfortunate, but I believe all Township residents need to read those City of Sylvan Lake minutes.  Where are Township minutes on this issue of potentially taking over the police and dispatch duties for the City of Sylvan Lake for a "fee"?   Don't know.

      Some quotes from the minutes (reg. or study session) from Sylvan Lake : August and Sept.I am quoting SYLVAN LAKE minutes !
      1. 8/2/11 Martin recommended going with Bloomfield Twp for police and dispatch services if necessary.
      2. 8/2/11 Martin discussed how council wants to get information out to the residents regarding the millage.
      3. 8/10/11   Thank You to Paul Bibeau-Retirement A3-006-11
        City Manager Martin announced that Paul Bibeau has been working with Sylvan Lake for 29 years and the City Attorney for 27 years.
      4. 8/10/11  New City Attorney A3-007-11
        Martin welcomed Tom Schultz from Secrest, Wardle. Schultz has been with the firm for 20 years and has a great deal of municipal law experience. Martin has been working with Schultz for the last two and a half months and feels he is responsible and will be a good fit for the city. Schulz thanked the city for the opportunity and looks forward to working with the city.
      5. 8/10/11 Police Department P1-018-11
        The City has been in discussions for police services. If the proposed 5 mills is not passed in November then the City Police Services will contracted out.
      6. 8/10/11 Martin is working on a contract with Bloomfield Twp. It would be based on taxable value of the city. The agreement they are looking at is based on millage, so if taxable values go down the fee will go down also and if the values go up then the fee will increase.
      7. 8/10/11 g. Patrol car Purchase P1-019-11
        Martin acknowledged this is not a good time, but there are serious issues with the two older patrol cars. They are out of service more than they are in service. While they are out of service, it puts that much more wear and tear on the remaining vehicles. The vehicles have now actually stopped running while they were being driven. It has become a liability issue. Last year the city spent over $23,000 on vehicle maintenance.
        Maurina asked what happened with Pontiac’s cars. Martin stated the Chief has been working on that before the County took over. He was looking at vehicles along with equipment. He thought he had a Tahoe. Pontiac has now informed him everything is going out for bid. Maurina asked if it is possible to lease a car from another community through the end of year. Martin is unsure of this. Zubrzycki suggested asking Bloomfield Township for a bridge plan. Meskin asked if it is in the budget for the current year. Martin stated it is. Meskin recommended if they have to buy one then it should be black since Bloomfield Township drives black vehicles. Lorenz agreed with Meskin’s idea. He suggested they approach Bloomfield Township is discuss purchasing a car and if needed feathering it into their fleet or lease a vehicle from them for three months. Lorenz asked that the study session be posted as special meeting in case they need to approve this.
      8. 8/25/11 Study Session, August 25th, to do a presentation on the public safety millage.
      9. 8/25/11 Millage Presentation Preview
        Martin stated he made copies of the presentation for Council to write notes on. He asked to go through it first and then discuss it after. It was a power point presentation on the Public Safety Millage. After the presentation council provided their input and MaryAnn Smith provided public comment. Martin asked council to review the paper copy again over the weekend and provide any further input by next Wednesday.
      10. 8/25/11 Sharing Information with City Council
        Martin stated he has been a little remiss in sharing police incidents with Council. Some of the stuff he didn’t know about. He has spoken with Attorney Schultz and the Bloomfield Twp Chief regarding this.
        The Chief will setup a platform of notice to the City Manager. Martin will forward to City Council any such things such as unnatural death, multiple breaking and entering or larcenying of vehicles or anything getting attention or in the newspaper. He doesn’t want this to be a gossip mill; he wants Council to know what is given is only what can be told at the time.
      11. 8/25/11 Update on Police Vehicle
        Martin reported the Chief feels the one vehicle that broke down is going to be ok for the time being. Pontiac is only doing a bid process to sell their vehicles. If they were to order a new vehicle they wouldn’t get it until mid October. They are using the one with the biggest issues least. Martin spoke with Bloomfield Twp Chief and they have eight new vehicles on the lot that have never been used; they are just backup vehicles. They would work out a deal with the city if we need them too. It would still need to be outfitted. They are hoping to wait.
      12.  9/14/11  New Patrol Vehicle P1-020-11
        The Police now have a new vehicle, a Chevy Tahoe. They were beyond needing a new patrol vehicle. The white impala was in the shop so much that it put quite a strain on the remaining vehicles. It stalled while in being driven. It was determined they could not get a guarantee it would not stall so it was taken out of service. $28,000 was spent on vehicle maintenance this past year. Martin spoke with Bloomfield Township prior to purchasing the Tahoe. Bloomfield stated they would buy whatever vehicle we purchased if the millage does not pass.
        Why a Tahoe?
        In Martin’s discussion with Bloomfield Township they talked about the pros and cons of different vehicles. One of the main issues departments are facing is not having enough room in their patrol vehicles. The Tahoe is much more rugged vehicle; it sits higher and holds its value much better. It was purchased for $25,500. A charger would have cost about $23,500. The gas mileage is the same as a crown vic and only 1 MGP less than the Charger.  Maurina added a police vehicle was in the budget for the past two years and they didn’t purchase one. For safety reasons they could not wait until after the election.
      13. 9/14/11 Maurina announced there will be more presentation meetings. The choice is up to the residents whether to save the police or outsource them.   
       Why did I highlight in RED?
      • The new attorney for Sylvan Lake is from the SAME legal firm as the Township attorney, Secrest Wardle.  Township attorney, Mr. Hampton currently serves as general counsel for the City of Bloomfield Hills, City of Auburn Hills, Township of Bloomfield, and Township of West Bloomfield. Thomas Schultz has concentrated his practice in municipal law. He is currently the City Attorney for the City of Novi and the City of Farmington, and provides general counsel services for several other Oakland County communities, including the City of Farmington Hills and Bloomfield Township. He has also acted as special counsel for other communities in the region. Schultz can now add the City of Sylvan Lake to his credits.
      • So .... that law firm is handling the police/dispatch agreement for both the Township and the City of Sylvan Lake?  Although the announcement to hire a new Sylvan Lake attorney was made in August, he had been working along side the retiring attorney for the previous two and one half months. 
      • Funny ... Sylvan Lake gets a new attorney the same time as all the "agreements" are made as to the Township doing permitting, inspections and assessments and now possibly police and dispatch for "fees".  Gee, and it's the same law firm that works for the Township. Is there a conflict of interest here? 
      • The patrol car purchase really set me off, especially when I read about the 8 new vehicles on the lot that have never been used.  Personally, count all the vehicles at the think 8 unused patrol cars made you angry....
      • WHY did the Township buy extra vehicles?  So they could service other communities?  And, If the Sylvan Lake millage does not pass...WE, the Bloomfield Township taxpayer, will  BUY the police car Sylvan Lake just purchased and then the Township will collect a small "fee" from Sylvan Lake and then send that police car back to that community with our police officer?  Are you kidding?
      • Where are YOU on this issue?  Am I the only person outraged by the closed door actions of the Bloomfield Township elected officials and negotiating employees? Is there a code of secrecy and silence at the Township? What the Taxpayers don't know...the better for job security? The Township's past history of presenting a contract at the last minute (July 25) for discussion is not open and transparent government. Those contracts, including the assessing contract (Aug. 10), come before the Board with a predetermined outcome and nothing said at a Board of Trustee meeting will change that my opinion.
      • Is collecting small amounts of revenue ($19,000/year for assessing)  from another community the best solution for reducing our costs? I don't think so.  We should be reducing our costs by eliminating some employees, quit buying vehicles that are not needed or used, and make hard decisions in each department.  The next budget is being worked on right now.  What is our Township planning for our budget?  Reducing our costs or servicing other communities?  I for one, will not be voting to renew any public safety millage ( the Bloomfield Township  10 year 2.5 millage from 2002 is expiring in 2012)  as long as our Township leaders send the vehicles, specialized equipment and personnel outside our borders for a small "fee".
      • Please, post a comment on this site.  I am willing to listen to both sides of an issue.  Too bad the Township has been silent all these months. It appears a deal is ready to be signed... just waiting for the City of Sylvan Lake vote results on their 5 mills public safety issue.

      Saturday, November 5, 2011

      Nov. 7-12: Township News: Zoning Change Proposal, Vote, Emergency Alert Test, Library Book Sale, ZBA

      Hi All,
      Here are some items from the Township website along with my commentary.

      Monday, Nov. 7 @ 7 pm    Planning Commission meeting
      This meeting is not televised and will not be found on cable or the website. Those of you interested in applying for Planning Commission openings please attend this meeting. Showing interest is a plus on your application.  I am assuming the township WILL be posting the positions..? There are Jan. 2012 expirations and those positions are traditionally filled at a Dec. 2011  Board of Trustee meeting. Hopefully, the Board of Trustees will vote to telecast these meetings in the near future.
      • One important agenda item Monday night is:
      • III. Public Hearing – Rezoning / Site Plan
      • A. 1655 Opdyke Rd. as part of Bloomfield Hills Shopping Center (1525 – 1616 Opdyke Rd.)
      The China Village restaurant property is being requested to be changed to B-2 zoning classification so that location can sell beer and wine with meals. The owner of the complex is requesting the zoning change.  China Village may or may not be the restaurant with the potential future liquor license.

      Tuesday, Nov. 8   @ 7 am to 8 pm  ....  VOTE
      Bloomfield Township residents have 4 different school districts...depending on where in the Township you live.
      • If your school district is:  Birmingham, Avondale or Pontiac....  there are issues on the ballot for your consideration and VOTE.
      • Please go to:
      • There you can find sample ballots (so you know the issues) and where you should go to vote.
      • Some precincts have been combined for this election.  You should have received a letter from the Township clerk if your precinct has moved for this election.  Can't find the letter?  Go to the website.
      If you live in the Township and have Bloomfield Hills School district....there is nothing on a ballot.  Do not go to the polls.  You will not have anything to vote for or against.  Your school issues will be sometime in the future:  Feb. ?  May?  August?  or Nov.?  2012    To be determined.

      Wednesday, Nov. 9 @ 2pm  Emergency Alert System will be TESTED
      This is a nation-wide test. The test will come from FEMA. It will be over 3 minutes in length. (It is usually 10 seconds for weekly tests and one minute for monthly tests.) All radio, television, cable and satellite operators will air the test at exactly the same time.

      Saturday, Nov. 12  @ 9:30 - 4:30 pm   Big Book Sale at the Township Library
      The Friends of the Bloomfield Township Public Library BIG book sale weekend is coming up!  Saturday, November 12 sale hours are 9:30am - 4:30pm.    The first hour - from 9:30am - 10:30am - is open to Friends members  only.  Sunday sale hours are 12noon - 4:30pm with the first hour open to Friends members also.  Sunday is bag sale day - buy a bag for only $5.  Come find your treasure!

      FYI:  The ZBA legal notice for the Nov. 15  meeting @ 7 pm  is now found on the website in 2 locations.