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Strategic plan, pay study to use ARPA funds

By Lisa Brody

With many Bloomfield Township projects utilizing less American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds than anticipated, Supervisor Dani Walsh recommended to fellow trustees that available ARPA funds could be best utilized to update the township's strategic plan as well as develop a new compensation study, and trustees unanimously agreed at the board of trustees meeting on Monday, November 13.

ARPA funds were established in 2021as a nearly $2 trillion stimulus bill designed to speed up economic recovery for citizens, businesses and governments in the wake of the pandemic, and has provided monies to cities, counties, and some townships. Forty-nine Michigan cities and townships received $1.8 billion; $1.93 billion was allocated to 83 Michigan counties. Bloomfield Township received $4.4 million.

Walsh explained that of those dollars, some ARPA-worthy projects were put into the budget as line items. Others, such as a new phone system for the township, was estimated to cost $600,000 but came in at a lower cost of just over $151,000.

A project with continuing expenses does not qualify for ARPA funds. Neither the strategic plan nor the compensation study would have ongoing expenses, Walsh said, “so they fit for use with the ARPA funds.”

She noted the township's current strategic plan expired in 2014, and residents have been asking for a new one. “This would allow us to do a forward-thinking plan, not a quick process,” she said, as one using ARPA money does not have a deadline of the fiscal year to complete the project. “It would allow for community involvement. We would put it out to bid for RFPs, approve it quickly and get it started.”

Walsh said based on a review of several neighboring communities and their costs for strategic plans, they are estimating it will cost between $25,000 – $50,000 for a planning process that would allow for a robust community involvement.

As for a compensation study, it would assess wages and benefits, including needs, wants and requirements for full and part-time employees, in order to retain and hire the best employees for Bloomfield Township.

“The previous compensation study was completed in 2020, after the contract negotiations were completed so it didn't benefit either side,” Walsh said. “Due to the pandemic, both full and part-time wages and benefits have changed in most industries. Having more updated information for both our full time and part-time positions will help us negotiate, recruit and retain our employees. The goal is to balance the amazing services we have for our residents with competitive wages and benefits for our employees.”

Walsh asked trustees to allow her to solicit requests for proposals (RFPs) bids for both projects, for approximately $150,000 total between the two. Once the RFPs are closed, she said all of the proposals will be brought to the board for consideration.

“I think the timing is good – certainly for the strategic plan,” trustee Neal Barnett said. “A lot of residents are looking for that. As for the compensation study, that is important before we get into negotiations.”

Trustees voted 7-0 to move forward with RFPs for both the strategic plan and the compensation study.


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