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January 4, 2013

West Bloomfield passes 2013 budget

By Eric Czarnik
C & G Staff Writer

WEST BLOOMFIELD — No fiscal cliff loomed for West Bloomfield Township last month, as the township Board of Trustees voted 6-1 to approve the general appropriations resolution for the 2013 budget.

At a Dec. 17 meeting, township Supervisor Michele Economou Ureste praised the 2013 budget, which projects about $84.9 million in revenue and around $81.6 million in spending.

“It’s quite nice to see that, over the last couple of years, a lot of progress has been made with the budgets,” she said.

Ureste said the new budget includes 38 different funds, such as the safety path fund, the public safety fund, special revenue funds, service funds and the general fund; a township memo said that 2011’s budget had 10 funds, and 2012’s swelled to 67.

No audience members spoke during the public hearing. Trustee Larry Brown wanted to make sure that the Finance Department would review the budgets one last time, after the first of the year.

Trustee Howard Rosenberg replied that the Finance Department always has the option of reviewing the budgets, but he thought the township couldn’t make the budget’s adoption contingent upon that.

“We can always come back and amend as necessary,” he said.

During fall budget discussions, board members voted to eliminate the budget director’s position, ­starting in 2013. Budget Director Shellye Dade had been occupying that role.

On Dec. 17, Trustee Steven Kaplan asked whether the final budget would still eliminate the budget director position. Ureste said it would, adding that her department’s budget would indeed be reduced.

“I’ll be voting no,” Kaplan said, “not because I disagree with the rest of the budget, but I disagree with the budget director being removed from the township’s employee rolls.”

In a township memo, Dade acknowledged the friendships that she’s made at work during the last 18 months. She also commented on the challenges that township officials undertook to navigate the township’s fiscal dealings and keep a “solid financial profile.”

“It is no doubt easier to fund government during economic boom times,” she said.

“The true test of our mettle and our ability to govern wisely comes during leaner times, when money is tighter. For in tougher times, we must work harder than ever to make the revenue we have go farther.”

Find out more about West Bloomfield at www.wbtwp.com or by calling (248) 451-4800.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Eric Czarnik at eczarnik@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1058.