Source: Sherman Publications

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Self serving agenda

January 25, 2012

Dear Editor:

I'm confused with the current state of affairs in Brandon Township. It is commonly stated that we are being negatively impacted by events which have been unfolding over the last 12 years. To the mind centered voter that would be a major sign to stop practices which brought us to this point. An open minded individual can easily see how we are not doing so.

The example of this is the elected officials reducing everything except wages and taxes. Cost for the fire department are up, so are the associated taxes; cost for the Oakland County Sheriff's Office are up, overall criminal response potential is down by 2.5 officers and a future millage increase is waiting; Brandon Schools are anticipating a $2 million plus deficit, look for those taxes to go up; and the library board needs a .227 millage increase to restore services, look for more to be requested later.

In my Aug. 20, 2010 letter to the editor titled "It is time to be Public Servants" I proposed a 10 percent paycut for the three full-time elected officials on the Brandon Township Board. In later budget meetings, having cut pay and benefits along with the overall number of hourly office staff, the board voted to have the supervisor, clerk, recreation director, and treasurer take a $5,000 paycut in 2012. This sacrifice will be implemented for those elected or reelected in 2012.

With local financial conditions still suffering and a couple of current officials running for re-election, here's what happened. "In the Nov. 28, 2011 workshop the consensus of the board was to not reduce the officials' wages." Thurman stated, "If we were to reduce the workload of the officials, we would have to hire more employees to cover that workload." (It appears that along with it being illegal to reduce their salary once in office, that it is impossible for them to cut their salary to the benefit of citizens and the next group of elected officials in 2012.)

On Oct 29, 2010 Thurman and I had an e-mail exchange. She was asked "In 2002, we had a 78 percent unreserved fund balance as related to revenue, what percent is it today?" In her Oct 30, 2010 reply she stated "Daily balances of funds does not come from my department. All I can tell you today is that our fund balance after our (2009) audit was $145,659." In the Dec 7, 2011 Citizen, Thurman reported "The township has an undesignated balance that currently stands at $161,000." This is not even a 15 percent undesignated fund balance as related to revenue and does not allow us to be prepared for any additional immediate need or emergency.

Two things: They voted to keep $20,000 in officials wages for 2012 and they voted to now have the cost for park operation as part of the general 101 budget, not the parks and rec 508 budget at a taxpayer cost of $22,250. Do the math (2011 unrestricted minus 2009 unrestricted, $161,000 - $145,659 = $15,341)

Factor in the $20,000 in unacceptable paycuts to full-time officials and the board mandated use of taxpayer funds to maintain & splurge on the "no millage" park at $22,250 for 2012, this would leave the newly elected officials with a $200,000 plus safety net. With all the staffing reduction, benefit savings, and general cost cutting we only see an increase of the undesignated funds over the level in 2009 of $15,341. This sounds like a self serving agenda is at play and not one of public servants accountable to the electorate. Or maybe our officials don't see the problems are theirs to deal with.

Michael A. Hamlett