Week of 7.24.17

Welcome to the home of Social Lights. New online reports with photos appear each week on the website and in the monthly print editions for the Birmingham-Bloomfield area and the Rochester-Rochester Hills area at the start of each month. If you want e-mail notification of when new Social Lights columns are posted to this site each Monday, sign up in the Newsletter Sign Up box at the lower right side of this home page.

Detroit Music Weekend Gala

The inaugural Detroit Music Weekend began Friday night at the Detroit Opera House where 200 music lovers gathered for the Gala ($750 & $1,000 tickets). They savored cocktails and passed hors d’oeuvres in the lobby, pausing for brief welcoming remarks delivered from the top of the grand staircase by founding director, Music Hall’s Vince Paul. A soaring operatic selection sung by soprano Nicole James signaled it was time for dinner, which was served at dramatically decorated tables set on the stage. There were interruptions to thank sponsors, board members and event coordinator Laura Raisch, and to salute Michigan Opera Theatre founder David DiChiera. His pancreatic cancer diagnosis has dictated his retirement but has not affected his good humor nor his bearing.
This weeks social light photos…


oakland confidential

August 2017

HORSE RACES: Democratic aspirations of taking a majority hold on Congress after the 2018 General Election will hinge on the party’s ability to take two dozen congressional seats, which may include upsets in Michigan’s 8th and 11th Districts, according to recent rankings of 82 districts by The New York Times. The piece split the districts into eight groups to watch, based on competitiveness ...more»
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Rochester Hills receives clean annual audit

05/19/2017 - Auditors with Plante & Moran on Monday, May 15, gave the city of Rochester Hills an "unmodified opinion" of accounting practices for the 2016 fiscal year ending on December 31, 2016, noting the city is "financially sound."

An "unmodified opinion" is the highest rating of practices that can be given in an annual audit of municipal accounting practices, meaning that processes and accounts have been properly stated and done to the highest level of assurance.

"The city is still very financially sound," said Lisa Manetta, a partner with Plante Moran who worked on the city's audit. "In addition, we are always happy to see the quality of services and quality of life provided to residents while maintaining that standing."

Auditors said the city's use of a five-year budget projection, low legacy costs and continuation of investing in capital outlay programs, rather than deferring maintenance for many years, has helped to put the city in a good position financially that many municipalities of similar makeup aren't experiencing.

Of particular note was the city's second consecutive year of experiencing a structural surplus for the city, meaning recurring revenues are higher than recurring expenditures. Total revenues for the city in 2016 came out to $55.8 million with expenditures totaling $55 million. In 2015, revenues totaled $53.4 million and expenditures totaled $55.4 million.

Auditor Joe Heffernan, partner at Plante & Moran, said while a structural surplus may sometimes indicate structural issues in budget planning, the city's planned spending of expenditures and the slight increase of revenues confirms a sound financial approach being taken by the city.

The increase in revenues, of which the majority comes from residential property taxes, is due primarily to increases in property values, the auditors said. An increase from 2014 to 2015 revenues included both increased property values, as well as an increase in the city's millage rate. Revenues outside of property taxes remained relatively flat, with the exception of a slight increase in interest from investment earnings.

Expenditures increased slightly in general government and public safety funds from 2015 to 2016. While capital outlay spending decreased from 2015 to 2016, from $14 million to $11.4 million, Heffernan said the levels show a commitment to infrastructure projects that many similar cities can't afford.

"In capital outlay, the majority of communities in southeast Michigan after 2009 or 2010 (scaled back), but they haven't come back up in that spending, and the reason they haven't come back up is because the revenue isn't there," he said. "Most communities aren't able to ramp back up to normal replacement, and are struggling with it."

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