Residents who voted against a proposed special assessment district (SAD) in Bloomfield Township aren't in short supply of suggestions on how best the township should now balance an estimated $5 million budget shortfall due to unfunded post-employment benefits.
Bloomfield Township resident MaryAlice LeDuc has provided trustees with a list of 31 areas where she says the township could trim the budget.
"There is fat in the budget that can be cut out," LeDuc said.
The majority of the recommendations relate to larger contributions for township employee to their benefits packages or cutting back on employees. For instance, LeDuc recommends increasing 401(a) plan contributions; increasing insurancea premium contributions; requiring employees to work more than 25 years to obtain full benefits; lower the total number of township employees; ending the purchase of hams for employees; and ending all township donations to 501c community groups..
The recommendations were similar to those included in a handout sheet to members of the public and trustees by township resident Don Valente, an outspoken critic of the proposed SAD and the current township administration. In all, nearly 20 people spoke at the trustees' meeting on Monday, August 12. The majority of those comments came from residents who said they were dissatisfied with the SAD ballot question and offered various options for cutting the budget.
A majority of those who spoke also backed trustee David Buckley's resolution to appoint a township supervisor that would essentially take over day-to-day duties now handled by township supervisor Leo Savoie.
The board scheduled a special study session for Monday, September 9 at 5 p.m. to discuss the resolution.
Savoie at the board's Monday, August 26, meeting is expected to go over some of the township finances and speak to where some cuts related to unfunded liabilities will need to come, and how deep those cuts should be. In terms of recommendations made by LeDuc and members of the public, Savoie said he is open to suggestions but won't favor those that call for upending the employment base or lead to an exodus of employees.
"We are doing the net effective of decimating the programs at Bloomfield Township, and I'm not going to let anyone decimate the employee base," Savoie said. "Based on the compensation studies that we have done on every single contract negotiation that we have done, we aren't the highest paying and we aren't the lowest.
"We won't allow them to decimate the individuals that deliver services to our community."
Savoie said his discussion will focus on the deficit and what has been done thus far to curtail it. That, he said, includes the recent refinancing of pension bonds, current hiring freezes and estimated health care savings.
"There are all kinds of things happening behind the scenes," Savoie said. "We'll get there. Then the question will be how deep the board wants to go."