Election signs were posted at a Bloomfield Township polling location Aug. 6.

Election signs were posted at a Bloomfield Township polling location Aug. 6.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Bloomfield voters say no to public safety SAD

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published August 13, 2019

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BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP — Asked whether residents would prefer a special assessment tax to maintain township services or pay for retiree benefits with budget cuts — including the elimination of public safety positions —  the voters were clear: Make the cuts.

With 62.2% percent of the 10,736 votes cast Aug. 6, the dissenters came out on top against a 2.3-mill special assessment district plan that would have brought extra money into the coffers in the face of growing post-employment benefit obligation costs. The tax was promoted as a public safety effort because, in order to close a funding gap for retiree benefit costs, major cuts would need to be made across the board, including possibly scrapping the animal welfare division, fire services at Fire Station 4, and personnel jobs in police and fire.

“The people have spoken and we will start implementing certain cuts,” said Township Supervisor Leo Savoie, who added that he will look to trustees who disapproved of the SAD to “put a plan together that they feel is acceptable to the people, and we will go from there and see what we can do,”

The proposal received criticism from Trustees David Buckley and Dani Walsh, and some community members who said administrators were misleading the public by saying the cash would be used for public safety, and they demanded that cost savings be found in the existing budget instead of raising taxes. Buckley and Walsh voted against putting the proposal on the ballot at all.

“The (Aug. 6) vote represents a huge victory for residents against excessive spending and poor policies,” said resident and SAD dissenter MaryAlice LeDuc in a press release. “We will continue to demand better, smarter and more cost-effective ways of working. Residents should not be paying for legacy programs that are not cost effective. ‘Tradition’ is not a good reason to keep services in their current form. A citizen advisory board can assist elected official(s) with solutions to maintain quality services and to reduce costs in Bloomfield Township.”

On the agenda for the board’s Aug. 12 meeting, which took place after press time, Buckley was scheduled to give a presentation to propose the establishment of a superintendent position with experience in public finance. Buckley told the Eagle via text message that the proposition was his effort alone.

Those in favor of the SAD argued that the shortfall to cover the OPEB tab would be between $5 million and $7 million annually, and slashing the budget alone wouldn’t make up the difference.

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