April 03, 2013 - Blah, blah, blah . . .
That's what most of the March 26 meeting between the Oxford and Lake Orion village councils sounded like to me.
Glad to be here tonight. . . . blah, blah, blah . . . we all thought that last meeting was a very healthy discussion . . . blah, blah, blah . . . the first step in the right direction . . . blah, blah, blah. . . . we seem to be moving right along . . . blah, blah, blah . . .
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for local governments working together to look for ways to cooperate and save the taxpayers some money.
Unnecessary layers of government (i.e. villages), endless redundancies and the desire to protect fiefdoms are some of the chief reasons taxpayers are overburdened.
But frankly, I just don't believe these joint meetings between the two village councils are going to produce any significant savings.
Why? Well, I don't see either council seriously considering having the Oakland County Sheriff's Dept. take over their police and dispatch services.
No meaningful, genuine dialogue about saving tax money can occur without that option on the table for all to rationally discuss and explore in an in-depth manner.
Contracting with the sheriff's department has the potential to save each community hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.
If these two councils cannot produce an alternative to the sheriff's option that can save just as much, if not more, money, then all I hear is blah, blah, blah.
When my esteemed colleague Dan Shriner, editor of the Lake Orion Review, reported on the Feb. 25 joint meeting, he wrote, "The most commonly-uttered phrase among all of the council members seemed to be, 'I'm open to anything to save money.'"
Without the sheriff option in the mix, I'm afraid that's just a hollow statement.
Whenever government can save taxpayer money by contracting for a service instead of utilizing in-house staff with all their burdensome legacy costs and liabilities, then by all means, it should be done without hesitation.
That's how real money is saved.
Employees are always the biggest expense when you add up things like wages, fringe benefits, uniforms, training, equipment, etc.
Some village people don't want to switch to county because they believe their local departments provide better service.
Well, that's just hogwash.
The sheriff's department brings a top-notch level of professionalism and expertise – not to mention resources and manpower – that cannot be matched by any small department.
Some village people fear losing local control. Again, hogwash.
The sheriff's department will provide whatever level of services and staffing a community wants or needs. Sheriff's contracts are tailor-made; they're not one-size-fits-all.
And if a deputy or substation commander isn't a good fit for a particular community, one call to Pontiac and they can easily be replaced.
Some people fear not having local police and dispatch diminishes a community's identity. I don't for a second believe a community's identity is wrapped up in having police cars with the town's name on them or paying higher taxes for that privilege.
Communities derive their identities from the people that live, work, play and volunteer in them, not any government services or institutions.
The villages of Leonard, Lakeville and Ortonville all have clearly-defined identities and they're all policed by the sheriff's department. The same goes for popular cities like Clarkston and Rochester Hills.
What's really preventing Oxford and Lake Orion from seriously considering the sheriff's department is a combination of emotion, local prejudice and a sentimental devotion to keeping something that's no longer economically feasible or practical.
In the end, the real problem with these joint meetings is they're between two governments that are dinosaurs.
Villages are just extra layers of governments within townships.
At one point, they served a purpose providing services that townships could not to densely-populated areas.
But now that townships can, and in many cases do, provide all of the same services, villages are completely unnecessary.
They're relics collecting taxes.
As far as I can see, all the Oxford and Lake Orion village councils are going to do is continue to pat each other on the back and tiptoe around the tar pits.
NOTE: Kudos and thank you to Oxford's Community Events Committee for agreeing to change the name of Celebrate Oxford to either "Celebrate The Lone Ranger" or "Celebrate Lone Ranger."
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.