Antakli received both his undergraduate mechanical engineering degree and his MBA from University of Michigan. He is a self-employed insurance agent.
As one of three full-time elected positions in the township offices, along with the supervisor and the clerk, the treasurer has a variety of responsibilities. Can you tell us the statutory responsibilities of the treasurer? What qualifications do you have to be township treasurer? Be specific.
Treasurer is a member of the Board of Trustees which has the following statutory requirements, from the Michigan Compiled Laws for the Township Board: MCL 41.70-41.75b. Regarding education qualifications: graduate degree, University of Michigan – Dearborn – master degree in business administration, concentrating in finance. I graduated with distinction and was accepted into Beta Gamma Sigma, the National Honor Society for Business Schools. Undergraduate degree is in mechanical engineering, from University of Michigan, College of Engineering – Ann Arbor. I have an extensive business background, utilizing my finance background to support board and management activities such as: forecasts, budgets, cost savings initiatives, financial analysis, and stakeholder relationships.
For a number of years there has been concern about the township's finances and whether the township had invested its money correctly. In the last several years there have been changes in how investments have been handled which have produced improvements. Can you tell us the changes that have been made in the investments of the township? Be specific. As a township, what investment vehicles can a township use? Can you tell us how the township's portfolio has performed in the last two years?
Investments the township can utilize are identified in Michigan’s Compiled Laws and are referenced in the year end March 31, 2019 audited financials. Township utilizes laddered maturities of CD’s to cover the cash needs of daily operations. Recently, the township utilizes Oakland County’s government investment pool and has increased the holdings in that account. A few years ago, the majority of these investments were in short-term bond mutual funds, with other investments being in certificates of deposit. Per fiscal year end audited financials, investment fees have increased from $86,208 in 2016 to $267,851 in 2019. Per the 2019 audit, investment returns on the pension trust net investment expenses were: 2019, 2.3 percents and 2018, 4.7 percent.
AAA BOND RATING
Bloomfield Township received its first AAA bond rating from Standard & Poor's in April 2011, prior to a $3 million bond sale to finance improvements in its sanitary sewer system. The township has maintained its AAA bond rating since, which has been attributed to a well run township at every level. If you are elected, how will you work to maintain that AAA bond rating?
Bloomfield Township is also rated by Moody’s. Moody’s downgraded Bloomfield Township to Aa1 on August 8, 2019. Credit challenges highlighted in Moody’s report on December 12, 2018 were: tax caps; high leverage and fixed costs from bonded debt and unfunded post-employment liabilities; a weakened economic profile. A new threat was added this spring. Six-year employment contracts were approved, increasing salaries and post-employment benefits by over 15 percent. A long-term balanced budget was not provided to residents, supporting the increase. I will work to reinstate a 10-year financial plan to improve strategic decisions and provide long-term fiscal responsibility. Predict and address financial challenges before they become large financial issues/burdens. I will work to reinstate a Consolidated Operating Budget, which was removed from the budget adopted on March 23, 2020. The consolidated budget would identify revenue by source and planned expenditures; identify surplus or deficit budgets; recommended by Michigan’s Department of Treasury.
How familiar are you with your community's master plan and zoning ordinances? Is there a part of the master plan or an ordinance that you feel needs to change?
The master plan includes infrastructure requirements. Updating infrastructure increases the township long-term debt and can constrain expenditures during an economic downturn. Therefore, having a 10-year financial plan for the township will improve long-term decisions made by the township's planning division. I will work to reinstate a 10-year financial plan. Show our revenue, expenses, and debt projections year by year for a rolling 10-year period. Help the township make strategic decisions and provide long-term fiscal responsibility. Help the township predict and address financial challenges before they become large financial issues/burdens, saving taxpayers money.
REUNIFYING THE COMMUNITY
There has been an increased lack of civility at township board meetings and social media postings, contributing to a divisiveness and lack of respect and cordiality. Given the very public struggles that have taken place in the township, what would be your plan to unify the community and the staff?
I will respect First Amendment rights and core political speech of residents. I will work to reinstate a Consolidated Operating Budget, which would provide transparency by showing where all revenue will come from and what expenses are planned. Show residents if the township is operating with a balanced, surplus or deficit budget. Consolidated budgets should include water and sewer. Consolidated budgets are recommended by Michigan’s Department of Treasury. I will work to reinstate a 10-year financial plan to show revenue, expenses, and debt projections year by year for a rolling 10-year period. I will help the township make strategic decisions and provide long-term fiscal responsibility and help the township predict and address financial challenges before they become large financial issues/burdens, saving taxpayers money. I will lead by example and will not accept an exorbitant perk of a Ford Expedition. I stand for total transparency. Transparency makes for better governance.
What would you consider the top three issues facing the township and how would you address those issues?
Lack of a long-term financial plan to fund over $160 million in post-employment liabilities. Fiscal responsibility. Financial transparency. A long-term financial plan to fund $160 million in post-employment liabilities is more than making payments according to an actuarial; a long-term financial plan includes making additional payments during an economic expansion. Fiscal responsibility includes providing a long-term financial plan and updating the plan annually. Reinstating a consolidated operating report to the annual budget. Updating the consolidated operating report on a quarterly basis and comparing actual results to estimates. Working a five-day week. Not accepting the Ford Expedition the current Treasurer uses, 24/7/365 at tax payers expense. Financial transparency includes providing residents access to all records. Adding a consolidated operating report to the annual budget. Providing on-line quarterly updates. Addressing post-employment liabilities. Providing on-line quarterly updates of investments.
WHY VOTE FOR YOU
Why should voters select you over your primary opponent? Please be specific in drawing your comparison.
I will respect First Amendment rights and core political speech of residents. I will work to reinstate a Consolidated Operating Budget, which would provide transparency by showing where all revenue will come from and what expenses are planned. Show residents if the township is operating with a balanced, surplus or deficit budget. Consolidated budgets should include water and sewer. Consolidated budgets are recommended by Michigan’s Department of Treasury. I'll will work to reinstate a 10-year financial plan. Show revenue, expenses, and debt projections year by year for a rolling 10-year period. Help the township make strategic decisions and provide long-term fiscal responsibility. Help the Township predict and address financial challenges before they become large financial issues/burdens, saving taxpayers money. I will lead by example and will not accept an exorbitant perk of a Ford Expedition. Antakli stand for total transparency. Transparency makes for better governance.
Brian Kepes is a graduate of Michigan State University with a degree in accounting, is a CPA and has owned his own real estate company. He is the incumbent township treasurer. He previously sat on the township's board of trustees from 2009-2016, zoning board of appeals, which he also chaired, from 1994-2009, and tax board of review, 1993-2009.
Collect real and personal property taxes and other monies due to the township, account for and deliver them to the county treasurer and other tax assessing entities. Maintain a uniform accounting system. Deposit monies in approved depositories. Disburse checks according to the state law or township board. Invest monies in investment instruments as authorized by state statute and the investment policy set by the township board. Vote at township board meetings. Appoint a Deputy Treasurer. Post a surety bond. I believe I possess the requisite skills, have provided solid results and a proven record to continue to serve as your Bloomfield Treasurer. I am a fiscal conservative. I have provided 26 years of experience and service to the township; 15 as a volunteer on the zoning board of appeals and tax board of review, seven as trustee, and four as your treasurer. Professionally, I earned a degree in accounting and am a certified public accountant, who has started, built, and managed successful businesses’ for over 30 years. Additionally, I have provided active long-term leadership in diverse community organizations.
Township finances are strong and performing extremely well. While under my responsibility, in the last four years, township reserves have earned $2,881,000 as compared to Dan Devine’s last four years in office, where he earned only $476,000. Despite historically low interest rates, the township performed six times better in the last four years by eliminating excessive broker fees and investing in safe government bonds. Since November of 2016, the defined benefit equities (DB) and Retiree Health Care Trusts (RHCT) have increased over 40 percent and 20 percent respectively. The difference in the returns for the DB and RHCT is the DB contains only equity, while the RHCT contain equity and fixed income instruments. From the beginning of my term as your Treasurer, every financial relationship and provider was examined, renegotiated, and/or rebid and replaced. All of the costs, fees, and expenses associated with these relationships were either substantially reduced or eliminated, while providing as good as or better service than before.
AAA BOND RATING
Bloomfield’s AAA credit rating, as stated by Standard & Poor’s, is a reflection of Bloomfield’s economic strength and management’s demonstrated ability of managing its budget. The AAA rating allows Bloomfield to borrow at the lowest rates and reduce the bottom line cost to taxpayers. As your township treasurer, I diligently work with the supervisor and finance director to meticulously manage the finances and budget by refinancing debt to lower interest rates, continually pay down debt, and reduce township liabilities, increase our investable assets, and increase our reserves. To maintain Bloomfield’s AAA rating, I plan to continue my solid record of proven results.
We live in a beautiful community, primarily planned, built, and maintained for residential use. The township's rolling hills and many water features are accentuated by our residents’ superior designed and maintained homes, which are supported by township ordinances, that we should all be proud. As a participant in Bloomfield’s master plan process and having chaired and been a member of its zoning board of appeals for over 15 years, I have great appreciation and respect for the planning, zoning and ordinance process. While the residential nature of the community has been set long ago, things do change and I believe that the master plan and ordinances need to constantly reflect the resident’s needs and desires now and in the future.
REUNIFYING THE COMMUNITY
Civility, cordiality, honesty, kindness, transparency and mutual respect are fundamental to a sound and healthy community and organization. I have lived my personal, business, and community volunteer life committed to these values and will continue to work as a professional in a cooperative spirit with all board members and residents to place Bloomfield’s interests first.
Key issues facing Bloomfield are as follows: First, continue to meet and exceed residents' expectations of a safe, secure, and stable community while balancing the limited revenues available, even in the face of these hopefully once in a lifetime catastrophic events. As such, we need to remain committed to fiscally conservative policies and keep our tax rates low for residents. Second, provide and support innovative solutions to our challenges that include road maintenance and/or provide opportunities for new roads and the essential maintenance and restoration of our aging water and sewer infrastructure. Furthermore, provide and improve the very best services to our residents while retaining and attracting top quality staff to perform these vital services like police, fire, and advanced life support. Third, we need a cohesive township board that can maintain the trust of the taxpayers and provide a local government we can all be proud of.
WHY VOTE FOR YOU
Why keep Brian Kepes your Bloomfield Treasure? My extensive experience in the private sector, as a CPA, founding successful businesses, and my lifetime active leadership of community non-profit boards and organizations, has provided me the crucial ability to work with all types of people in all types of environments and build strength. When you write more checks to government than you receive, you gain a true respect for the value of every tax dollar and take seriously the responsibility of managing public funds. In my first term as your treasurer, I have enjoyed the opportunity to substantially reduce or eliminate every financial investment provider’s cost/fee and treasury staffing levels while simultaneously increasing the transparency, service and/or productivity providing significant value to Bloomfield taxpayers. Your treasury department has also continually provided enhancements to the treasury process to simplify and improve your experience. These advancements include allowing you the option of paperless water/sewer billing, online payments processes for all departments, and point of sale credit card use at the counter. We’ve only just begun… To date, we have eliminated approximately $1 million in annual perpetual treasury related costs and fees. I will maintain a laser focus on continued taxpayer cost reductions and value enhancements of the treasury services for the benefit of Bloomfield Township residents.