Board aims to use $4.4M in ARPA funds for township buildings and campus, disaster prep

By: Mary Beth Almond | Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle | Published June 7, 2023

BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP — Bloomfield Township was awarded $4.4 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds, and township officials have recently decided how the money should be used.

Before making their decision, the township asked the public to weigh in via an electronic survey that was sent in March to the 4,800 email addresses that subscribe to the township’s e-newsletter.

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 is a nearly $2 trillion stimulus bill designed to speed up economic recovery for residents, businesses and governments in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The federal government made the funds available to communities across the country to assist in recovery efforts. Township Supervisor Dani Walsh noted that the funding cannot be used to pay debt service or pensions, or to replenish any reserves.

Carrie LeZotte, the township’s director of cable and community relations, recently presented the results of the public survey to the Board of Trustees.

“This is the first survey that we have done, so, not only did we hear about ARPA and what the residents want, we also learned about managing a survey,” she said. “This is something that we’ll continue to tweak going forward.”

The township received 409 return surveys, which asked residents to rank seven spending options from highest priority with a number one, to lowest priority at a number seven.

“Those seven choices were determined by how the department heads brought forth projects that they would like to see funded, and they were narrowed down by the trustees,” LeZotte said.

The top-ranked choice, at 27%, was disaster recovery — which township officials said would improve continuity in government and disaster recovery capabilities with enhanced backup, storage and application access for critical community services for an estimated $400,000. Officials said this would enhance disaster recovery capabilities in the event of a tornado, fire, flood, cyber attack, pandemic, terrorist threat or other issues.

Architectural designs for fire station three improvements — estimated to cost around $20,000 — came in second with 23% of residents ranking it as their No. 1 priority. Built in the 1950s and updated in the 1970s, station #3 is not big enough to house current lengths of fire trucks and has no room for additional equipment, township officials said. Having an updated fire station, township officials said, allows the township to improve services to residents with access to the most up-to-date equipment, technology and resources, and also would include male and female changing areas to attract both male and female recruits.

Architectural designs, Walsh noted, are the first step in the station replacement process and allow the township to apply for construction grants for public safety services.

Architectural designs for the remodeling of the police station — estimated to cost $65,000 — came in third with 17% of respondents ranking it as their No. 1 priority. Township officials said the new police station design would allow for modified workstations, the expansion of dispatch services and the addition of an all-female locker room.

At an estimated cost of $700,000, campus security enhancements ranked fourth on the survey with 14% ranking it as their first priority. The security enhancements would include improving video surveillance and building security controls and alarm systems in Bloomfield Township campus facilities.

Coming in fifth was improving records management — at a cost of around $400,000 — with 11% of people ranking it as their No. 1 priority. Township officials said there are 195 years of paper and digital records and documents across various storage areas. The first step would be to create the framework and infrastructure of standardizing how and where all records should be stored, followed by scanning in almost 200 years’ worth of documents. Township officials said they could improve the speed and accuracy of responding to Freedom of Information Act requests and completing day-to-day operations by making data more easily accessible in one location and format.

Approximately 3.6% of survey respondents ranked replacing the existing outdated on-site phone system as their first priority. There are two options available: a hosted solution, which is estimated to cost around $250,000 the first year, with an annual recurring cost of $135,000; or an on-premise solution at a cost of $450,000-$600,000 the first year, with a $30,000 annual recurring fee.

Upgrades for the township hall auditorium came in last, with 2% ranking it as their first priority. For an estimated $225,000, township officials said they could improve the user experience of community group rentals and public board meetings for both in-person and streamed meetings by upgrading audio and video technology, lighting and seating in the auditorium.

“In short, residents were very positive on updating facilities for public safety, increasing disaster recovery efforts and updating/digitizing records management,” said LeZotte. “I thought it was a successful effort.”

Despite the ranking, with a unanimous vote, the Board of Trustees agreed to move forward with issuing a request for proposals to move forward with all seven projects.

“In a perfect world, if all these estimates are correct, there is a chance that we can make all of the (projects happen). No matter where they ranked them, we could fund them,” Walsh said. “The danger is, what do we do if some of these come in much higher than estimated?”

“I would say that we try to do all of them, and if in fact it’s more expensive than what we have, then at that point we can prioritize,” said Trustee Neal Barnett.

Trustee Valerie Murray agreed.

“If we can afford it all, maybe start at the top with the top priority and just work your way down and if you get to the point where you get three quarters of the way down the list then we have to talk about it,” she said. “ But I would say it was a great direction, I was really pleased with the responses.”

For more information, call Bloomfield Township at (248) 433-7700 or visit