Attention Readers: We're Back
C&G Newspapers is pleased to have resumed publication. For the time being, our papers will publish on a biweekly basis as we work toward our return to weekly papers. In between issues, and anytime, continue to find local news on our website and look for us on Facebook and Twitter.
 Officer Emily Davey has been with the West Bloomfield Police Department for about two years. The 2020 township budget includes the hiring of new officers.

Officer Emily Davey has been with the West Bloomfield Police Department for about two years. The 2020 township budget includes the hiring of new officers.

File photo by Donna Agusti

2020 West Bloomfield budget features new police officers

Millage replacement bolsters public safety measures

By: Andy Kozlowski | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published January 3, 2020

WEST BLOOMFIELD — A new year, a new budget.

The West Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees unanimously approved the 2020 budget in December.

According to Teri Weingarden, the township treasurer, the 2020 budget includes the approval of 37 funds. The main governmental funds are the general fund and the public safety fund. The total estimated revenue for these funds is $61.8 million. Total estimated expenditures are $64.4 million. The general fund itself clocks in at $24.7 million in revenues and $27.3 million in expenditures.

While the tax bill for the typical homestead homeowner varies by school district, an average home in West Bloomfield within the West Bloomfield School District, with a taxable value of $132,060, could expect to pay $5,186 in property taxes in 2020. This represents a property tax bill increase of about 1.9%.

It should be noted that a home’s taxable value is calculated separately from assessed value. Two identical properties with the same assessed value can have different taxable values, depending on when the property was purchased, due to Michigan voters approving Proposal A in 1994, which capped the annual property tax increases at 5% or the rate of inflation, whichever is less.

The township projects an increase in revenue of about 3%-3.5% in 2020. The township’s fund balance beginning Jan. 1 was $23.2 million for the general fund and $381,000 for the public safety fund, and the township now projects that the ending fund balance will be $22.7 million for the general fund and $325,000 for public safety. In 2020, it’s estimated that the township will spend $2.6 million in excess of revenue for operating and capital expenditures. Weingarden said that the township usually has a 4%-8% variance by year’s end.

No positions are being reduced or eliminated, but there are several positions that have been vacated due to staff retirements and will not be filled. Not yet, at least. The plan is to hire a new full-time engineer, project engineer, administrative assessing department staffer and administrative Clerk’s Office staffer sometime in 2020.

The township is also considering elevating the position of code enforcement supervisor to that of code enforcement director, as well as possibly restructuring or realigning current staff members in the planning and zoning departments.

The new budget does add two new police officers, raising the number from 80 sworn command officers and police officers to 82.

No agreements have been reached yet regarding future road projects. The township’s roads are serviced by the Road Commission for Oakland County, and the township board can enter into a 50/50 split to repave/resurface main roads. In 2019, the township, in collaboration with the Road Commission, repaved a 4-mile stretch of Willow Road.

Steven Kaplan, the township supervisor, shared his thoughts in an email Dec. 31.

“Township board members are pleased that the township can and will provide full services to our residents and businesses at the same levels as previous years. … A realignment of staff services may occur in the planning and zoning areas, but only to increase efficiency, and without reducing staff members or services.”

The 2020 budget benefits from voters’ approval in 2019 of two measures: one that replaces two public safety millages with a single combined millage at a reduced rate, and another that renews an existing safety path millage, also at a reduced rate. The public safety millage replacement, in particular, accounts for 70% of funding for police officers, firefighters, paramedics and dispatchers in the community.

West Bloomfield Police Chief Mike Patton previously said that the millage allows the department to avoid downsizing.

“Without these millages it would have compromised half of our funding, in light of which there could have been a significant rollback in services,” Patton previously said. “When I started here over three decades ago, we had more than 30 officers (compared to 80-plus officers now), and it was still a good department then. But over time, things have become more complex, with more concerns about mass shootings and school safety, and training and preparing for those things, which puts extra demand on our officers in ways that we didn’t have before. And so we have additional officers to help provide those services, and we provide them with a significant amount of training and leadership to help them make the best decisions, no matter what situations they may face.”

The township supervisor said a great deal of effort went into the 2020 budget.

“The creation and adoption of a municipal budget is an arduous process. Our budget and finance staff members, with input from the department heads, worked diligently to adopt a budget that will once again provide full services to the township’s residents and businesses,” Kaplan said. “Visitors to town hall can expect to obtain speedy, competent, adept, friendly services from town hall employees. And the township strives to provide rapid responses in connection with 911 calls — police, fire and paramedic.”