The Van Buren Township Board of Trustees spent Wednesday, Oct. 23, and Thursday, Oct. 24, in session to hear 2013 budget requests from department directors and discuss how the township can work with the funds available.
There were no votes taken. Absent both days was Trustee Al Ostrowski. Present at the board table both days was Linda Combs, who is unopposed on the ballot for supervisor.
IT Department – Steve Rankin. In 2012, the township’s server was replaced and VBT updated the township’s e-mail system. Digitizing township documents has been a slow process and Rankin feels they need more manpower for scanning older Building and Planning documents. Because of their size, some need special equipment. Jahr believes VBT should move forward with daily scanning rather than starting with historical files.
Police Department – Public Safety Director Carl McClanahan. The Board asked that an overtime line item be included with future reports. In the 2013 budget, McClanahan is asking to hire three new officers and believes the 74% increase in overtime is due to the reduction in manpower. A minimum of four officers are expected retire in the 2014 budget cycle and McClanahan wants to assure service will not be affected as the new officers are trained, which takes about nine months.
He reported he has 39 officers now and would like to increase to at least 42 or 43 in 2013 to be ready for the retirements. Supervisor White reminded them they will also need to plan $330,000 for three payouts for retirees.
“I think the board should let professionals decide how many officers to put on the road,” McClanahan stated to White.
McClanahan plans to purchase three new patrol vehicles and computers. McClanahan also is asking for $25,000 to purchase (not lease) a BMW motorcycle with a 10-year life span. The PD is asking for almost $260,000 in additional funding.
Dispatch – Police Lt Ken Floro. For 2013, Dispatch wants to hire two part-time dispatch officers to supplement the nine dispatchers and replace three chairs that are five years old and used 24/7. Floro noted that the 800 MHz radio’s Talk Group channel option has been a useful tool for use at larger incidents. Dispatch is asking for an additional $25,000. Also, it was mentioned the $145,600 the City of Belleville pays VBT annually for dispatch/lockup service needs to be renegotiated.
Animal Control – No Changes
Fire Department – Fire Chief Dan Besson is working with the MAFF union to provide a shift supervisor that would work from Station No. 2 on the night shift. He said there are 40 employees, not counting the chief (39 paid-on-call and one inspector, and also addition of nine probational employees). There was much talk about the job description of Fire Inspector Anthony Karver vs. the work he actually is asked to do. Karver currently is working on earning state certifications. Currently he is handling pre-plans, but does not have that certification.
The Fire Department is asking for $288,000 less than the 2012 budget until staffing can be worked out.
Total Public Safety Budget. 2012 – $7,870,207; 2013 proposed – $7,937,662; increase $67,455.
Building and Planning – Director Terry Carroll presented two budget proposals for the department, one would outsource inspections through contracted services and the other adds staff inspectors and an additional half-time employee. With contracted services additional response time as well as costs can be expected. Both budget proposals include the hiring of a Deputy Director. Any decision will come after the November Election.
Total Expenses — On a whole, the 2012 total amended budget expenses appear to be $551,665 below what was proposed, and the 2013 proposed budgets appear to be $294,677 over the 2012 amended budget figures.
Total Revenues from the 2012 proposed vs. amended, appear to be more than $550,000 than anticipated. On the Revenue side for 2012, there is a 9% decrease in tax revenue from the 2012 proposed with a slight ($1,000) decrease expected for 2013. In the past five years, since 2007, VBT’s Total Real & Personal Assessed value has decreased 46.49% to $1,045,756,417. For the same period VBT Total Taxable Value has decreased 27.85% to $938,523,189. It doesn’t look like VBT is in the clear yet, although Assessor Linda Stephenson said sales figures have gone up a little.
Extra things heard while at the Budget Hearings:
• Parks and Recreation Deputy Director Andrew Burns has resigned to take a job at a recreational therapy company in Clawson.
• Clerk Leon Wright would like to hire a Human Resources employee.
• Due to a lawsuit brought by former Fire Chief Darwin Loyer, when Supervisor Paul White leaves office on Nov. 20, his computer will be locked down and stored at the township. When the suit is settled it may end up being used in other departments. The new supervisor will need a computer and there is a lot of computer purchasing proposed for 2013. When the Michigan State Police is done investigating the death threat to Trustee Al Ostrowski, the computers taken from the police department for MSP study are expected to be returned.
• Attorney fees may be rising as a result of the township hiring an attorney to deal with Visteon.
• The “In Lieu of Blue Policy” that was accepted by the current township board may be reviewed by the new board. As it stands, if Combs is elected supervisor, it is quite possible that she will receive $200 per month for not taking health care while she continues to have full coverage as a retired employee. Combs had retired as senior director after 18 years with VBT.
• The new administration may also take a look at the 2011 approved policy that new board members do not get longevity pay and require that they must pay 20% health care costs. The 20% could be lowered to conform to the current 10% from other township employees.