Homeowners to receive refund from road project

By: Jeremy Selweski | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published November 19, 2014

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Residents of one Macomb Township subdivision are about to get a nice surprise in the form of a refund check after township officials realized that they had overcharged them for some recent road paving work.

The Macomb Township Board of Trustees unanimously approved the refund at the request of Charles Pierce, the township’s records supervisor, at its Nov. 14 meeting. The funds will be paid out to more than 300 homeowners within the Woodberry Estates subdivision, located near the northeast corner of 21 Mile and Card roads.

Township Supervisor Janet Dunn was surprised to see the refund on the board’s agenda.

“We don’t very often have these,” she said.

“No, ma’am, we don’t,” Pierce replied. “What occurred is that the original (road paving) project was approved based upon the cost estimate, and the funds were collected in that manner. As such, there was an over-collection of funds by about $76,000 for roughly 304 homes.”

Pierce pointed out that the township had no choice in this matter. Michigan law requires that if a municipality overshoots its fee collections by more than 5 percent above the original estimate, it must refund that money to the homeowners that were charged, or put it toward those homeowners who have an outstanding balance on the special assessment district.

Trustee Roger Krzeminski asked how much money each qualifying homeowner could expect to receive. Pierce indicated that the refund would amount to just under $240 per home.

According to the resolution approved by the board, the project in question involved the installation of a series of road and crosswalk improvements that were requested by residents of Woodberry Estates. The board gave the project the green light in October 2012 and then held a pair of public hearings in November and December of that year. The excessive charges to residents were discovered after construction of the project was completed in 2013.

At the same meeting, the Board of Trustees also authorized another item for Pierce’s department: the allocation of funds for the digital conversion of files stored in the basement of Township Hall. The board’s approval marked the second year of a budgeted three-year file conversion plan.

“The dollar amount for the second year is $78,581,” Pierce explained. “There has been no change from when the original plan was approved by this board last year. This will include all plans and all paperwork that’s downstairs within those boxes.”

In December 2013, the board supported the project at a total cost of $217,162. It included allocating $60,000 during the first year and $78,581 during each of the next two years.

Pierce indicated that there would be numerous positive consequences of converting all the township’s files from paper to digital. These include reduction of storage space in the Township Hall basement, easier filing and retrieval of electronically stored information, automatic backup at an off-site location, eliminating the need for additional shelves and cabinets, and keeping in accordance with the township’s records and information management policy.

“To date, we’ve gone through 30 of those boxes (in the basement),” Pierce said. “Fifteen of them have been audited, and we’ve condensed what we had from that amount into three boxes, so we’re making space slowly but surely.”

In June, the Records Department also began work on a $9,000 project to convert files at Macomb Township Fire Station No. 3, which sidetracked the main endeavor for a little while.

“We didn’t get as far as we wanted to this year,” Pierce admitted, “just because the Fire Department had some issues with scanning (documents) and some room that we wanted to make over there, so we directed our time and effort toward that project. But now we’re back working on the Building Department again.”

Trustee Clifford Freitas wanted to be certain that Pierce was also collaborating with the township’s Information Technology Department on this extensive project.

“Are you working with IT for (data) storage, for making sure that we have enough storage in our network?” he asked.

“Yes we are, Mr. Freitas,” Pierce responded. “Every Monday we have a meeting, and when we do that, we get an update on the amount of storage that we have available for those images that are being brought into the (digital file) system. It’s coming along really well so far.”

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