Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Your Dollars and Senior Services - What Services Do You Expect?

Hi All,
The township developed a :  Proposed Budget Presentation  that is a snapshot of the budget and was used by the department heads at the 2/21/12 board of trustees meeting.  The Senior Services charts from this presentation are found on pp. 79-85 and mentioned in this blog.

Senior Services
Proposed budget line item PTAX indicates revenue of:   $757,000  collected as 0.25 dedicated millage. That is all the revenue collected by the dedicated millage for this service. So why is the department head requesting a budget of:   $1,373,500 ?

You are in charge of the budget.  What choices do you take?  Raise revenue to meet the proposed budget or cut spending to work within the allotted dedicated millage?

Take a look at the expenditures chart.  How is that dedicated millage money spent?  You guessed it:  wages and salaries and most of the other departments in the township.  The line items:  SAL & BEN represent $692,500  for 4 full time employees and 20 part time employees. Doing the math:  there is only $64,500 left to provide the rest of the services and costs out of the dedicated millage money.

Dedicated millages were to pay ALL the costs for the service requested  .....  not just pay employee wages.  
Do you make cuts or raise revenue?
The proposed budget:  $1,373,000    vs   Dedicated millage money of $757,000

  • Unlike the Public Safety Fund and Road Department Fund, there was no transfer of funds from the general fund.  That is good.  BUT..
  • $616,000 more revenue is needed to balance this proposed 2012-2013 senior services budget
  • two Federal Grants provide $58,000  for  Meals on Wheels and  SMART bus
  • $558,000 revenue comes from "fees" or other charges...most likely "fees" from YOU.   The township needs to charge "fees" to raise revenue.  Fees if you use the pool, exercise equipment, SMART bus, attend programs, travel, receive meals on wheels, use the Adult Day Care or donate/fundraising/other, etc.
  • Some "fees" are needed to pay for extras such as the ticket to a play or the bus ride.  However, not everything at the senior center should be extra.
  • FYI:  Strange there is no revenue line item for the 130 non-residents that were granted full privileges at the senior center by the board of trustees for $100 a year.  I don't consider that money "donations, fundraising, or other" you? Where is that money listed?
  • Much of senior services is because of the generosity of over 200 volunteers.  This is revenue that is not measurable, but key to the senior program as it currently operates.
How is this extra revenue...much of it your money ..... spent?  
Is this what you expected or want?

  • $440,500 of that "extra revenue"  is needed to pay others to make the programs at the township happen. PS-Professional Services = $39,500  and  CS-Contracted Services = $401,000.  This could be printing, computers, grounds maintenance, $10,000 in bank charges, conferences for employees, etc. 
  •  $46,000 for supplies
  • $53,000 for transportation :gas/bus driver/bus/bus maintenance/other vehicles/  ??   I  don't know, but there is an extensive travel program at the senior center.  Does the department head have a vehicle?
  • $92,000 for insurance and utilities
  • $41,000 capital outlay and "other"
     For more details, I highly recommend you visit the official  proposed budgetp. 28-30  for the senior services budget  that the township board of trustees will ....I for at their March 12, 2012 @ 7 pm public hearing and meeting.  A new budget takes effect on April 1, 2012.
Cutting the budget?  Yes...Yes...Yes.  Somewhere. Logically, the wages and benefits.
There should be MORE activities that have no extra "fee".  People should be able to go there for "free" and use the pool, exercise equipment, and computers throughout the day and evening.

This is what happens when a small...0.25 millage gets totally out of hand.
The township had no business making a "partnership" with a non-profit or private organization, GBSA in 2004.  That organization served ONLY Bloomfield Hills School families...and many of those families did/do not live in Bloomfield Township.  Those non-residents benefited while the many township residents living in the Birmingham, Avondale and Pontiac School Districts were left out of the senior services for years before this became an official township "department".

That "small" millage from 2004 now represents a government department that in previous years approached $2 million dollars.  In 2012-2013 there is the dedicated millage PLUS a specialized senior building with all it's maintenance costs PLUS the building bond payments.  All those costs are not reflected in this budget.  It probably puts the true cost near or over $2 million for senior services.
****More history on the 2004 senior services 0.25 millage is found at the end of this blog AFTER the charts.  Please take the time to read it.  Thanks.
Did the township really need to build the senior center?
Did/does the township NEED a state of the art senior center with locker rooms, pool, exercise area, gym, hair salon, a special section of rooms for seniors called the "Friendship Club",  other community rooms for activities and buses for a travel club? 

There are 130 people from other communities that were granted (by the township board of trustees) full privileges at the senior center for an annual fee of $100.  Another revenue source. The non-residents pay nothing toward the building bond and nothing of the dedicated millage.  Many other non-residents aged 50 or older can use the facilities and attend classes, trips and functions for a slightly larger "fee" than the township seniors pay for the same activity or trip.  In contrast, all township residents under the age of  50 can NOT use the facilities.  They DO pay the dedicated millage and they DO pay the building bonds.

For Future Consideration:

When the senior services millage expires in 2013, I suggest, DO NOT RENEW THE MILLAGE.
Suggestion:   In 2013,  change the Senior Center to become a Community Center.  Operate it out of the general fund. Quit doing dedicated millage funds.  Have it open for all ages and for more than 63 hours a week.  There still can be special times and special programs for seniors.  Let your imaginations soar with the possibilities of real community use.  Change this building into a treasure for all ages. Keep the costs reasonable.


****Before 2004, seniors in the township basically spent about $30 to join one of two senior groups, either BASCC if you lived in the Birmingham School District or GBSA (Greater Bloomfield Senior Association) if you lived in the Bloomfield Hills School District.  Each senior group was self-supporting, operating in school buildings, and had a budget of approximately $300,000.  Bloomfield Township did make contributions to each organization for years, but larger donations were going to GBSA, aka Mature Minglers.
(The township no longer donates to BASCC.  GBSA is now the township senior services department.)

Then, in August 2004, there was a real "stealth" election. 
The public was not notified of the ballot question either in the township newsletter, website or by US Mail.
A ballot question asked for a 0.25  dedicated millage for creating and expanding senior services in the township by the GBSA.   This senior group was affiliated with and met in a Bloomfield Hills School District building. Two 2004 Bloomfield Township trustees were members of the GBSA strategic planning committee that proposed the millage to raise funds for the GBSA and those two same trustees voted as township trustees to put the issue on the August 2004 ballot.  I believe this was a major conflict of interest.  Then, after voting to put the issue on the ballot, the trustees never notified the public.  Who knew it was on the ballot?  People who went to the polls and found it, and people that belonged to GBSA.  In an August election...that wasn't very many people.

Here are the board of trustee and study session minutes of ALL and ONLY discussion on the record for this ballot issue.   see:  pp. 176-180  [PDF] JANUARY 12 2004_AUGUST 23 2004.pdf
The Spring 2004 newsletter shows NO mention of this senior services 0.25 millage ballot question.
The Summer 2004 newsletter shows mention of all ballot issues EXCEPT senior services.
The Fall 2004 newsletter says nothing about the Aug. 2004 ballot issues.
The Winter 2005 newsletter finally, but briefly mentions the Senior Services 0.25 millage that passed in August 2004.