Township approves $33 million annual budget
The Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees approved the township's annual budget, for just under $33 million, for the 2020-2021 fiscal year, at a meeting on Monday, March 23, where the four trustees attended via teleconferencing, by a vote of 6-1, with trustee David Buckley dissenting. The 2020-2021 budget represents a 3.7 percent increase from the 2019-2020 budget. Assumptions in the budget, according to township finance director Jason Theis, who presented the budget to the board, include 2020 taxable values increasing by 4.5 percent, although Headlee rollbacks, he said, “will cause a net revenue effect of 3.5 percent.” “One hundred percent of the two recent millages are being transferred to the general fund, for $8.9 million,” he said. State revenue sharing from the state of Michigan is estimated to increase slightly, while there could be a decrease in investment earnings due to recent market volatility, Theis said. There will be a rebate of $390,000 from the pharmacy program in the self-funding health care program. Increases in expenditures include a 2.5 percent increase to full-time wages, a contract which was approved by trustees that evening by a vote of 5-2, with Buckley and Dani Walsh voting against. The cost of the wage increase is estimated at $500,000 to the budget, Theis estimated. OPEB (other post-employment benefits) contributions total $2 million in the next budget, which Theis said is a projected 40 percent reduction from 2020. The township's defined benefit pension plan require contributions totaling $3.9 million, per the actuarial report, he said. The township's general fund, its chief operating fund, is anticipated to have revenues of $23.4 million. It is primarily funded by property taxes, $9 million; state revenue sharing, $3.7 million; and transfers from other funds, including the road fund, public safety fund, water and sewer fund, building inspection fund, and senior services fund, among others, $4.9 million. The general fund is budgeted with expenditures of $23.4 million, inclusive of $13 million in transfers from other funds; salary and wages, $3.6 million; and money to 48th District Court, $1.6 million. Supervisor Leo Savoie noted there are three township departments that are of concern, the township's senior center, where they need to look at funding; cable, where more cuts may be needed; and building and inspection, “where we need to look at rates, and competitive rates.” “I want to make sure we're charging fairly considering our costs,” noted trustee Michael Schostak. Schostak also asked if cuts made last fall, after a proposed Special Assessment District (SAD) failed to get voter approval in August 2019, to the township open house, household waste and shredding events and Dream Cruise event, were being reinstated. “The Dream Cruise event was never cut – it actually makes money for us. We have put back into the budget household waste, shredding, electronics disposals and prescription drop offs,” Savoie said. “One other item we had taken out of the budget was animal control, and we're very close to an agreement with an adjacent community to do animal control together, here, that is within the budget. “The Open House would not be a priority with the COVID crisis,” Savoie continued. “It takes months to plan. If there was a demand to reinstate the Open House, we could.” He said with the animal control arrangement, costs to the township would be reduced from approximately $150,000 to $175,000 prior to around $50,000 to $75,000 annually. “We would just be able to reallocate the duties on an employee,” he said. “We can do it as soon as an agreement is reached.” Theis pointed out that the budget indicated a decrease in employees to its current level of 230. In 2008, the township had a high of 267 employees. The new annual spending plan is budgeted for 235 employees, as there are five openings that have not yet been filled. Trustees Buckley, Walsh, Schostak and Neal Barnett attended the meeting via teleconferencing, while Savoie, clerk Jan Roncelli and treasurer Brian Kepes were all at safe distances in the board room. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued a temporary order March 18 allowing public bodies to meet virtually during the COVID-19 crisis. The order temporarily alters Michigan's Open Meetings Act, which mandates public access to certain state, county and local government meetings, to allow for electronic meetings through April 15.