State of the Township focuses on finances

By: Cari DeLamielleure-Scott | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published April 2, 2014

 West Bloomfield Township Supervisor Michele Economou Ureste gives the fifth annual State of the Township Address March 24.

West Bloomfield Township Supervisor Michele Economou Ureste gives the fifth annual State of the Township Address March 24.

Photo by Donna Agusti

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WEST BLOOMFIELD — Highlighting 2013 accomplishments and 2014 goals and objectives, township Supervisor Michele Economou Ureste addressed West Bloomfield residents and officials at the fifth annual State of the Township Address at Town Hall March 25.

Budget
“West Bloomfield is the fourth largest township of 1,242 townships in the state, with approximately 65,000 residents and 25,000 households,” Economou Ureste said. “While property values are improving, the township assessments remain approximately 24 percent lower since a 2008 base year.”

Since 2008, the township is down 25 positions; however, Economou Ureste said, 31 positions were filled due to vacancy in 2013.

Teresa Jablonski, former cash manager in the Treasurer’s Department, relocated under Economou Ureste’s department and accepted the budget and pension manager position. Economou Ureste said that with Jablonski’s assistance, the Board of Trustees approved a 2014 budget that includes 42 funds and approximately $52 million in general operating revenue and expenditures.

Special assessment districts
In 2013, a Special Assessment District Committee was established, and the Board of Trustees approved a policy of governing special assessment districts for road rehabilitation projects on secondary roads.

“The township board understands the value of maintaining secondary roads and how this correlates with maintaining the integrity of neighborhoods and home values,” Economou Ureste said.

Because West Bloomfield is a township, the Road Commission for Oakland County owns and maintains the roadways, and the maintenance of major roads is prioritized. Several subdivision associations are currently pursuing special assessment districts to reconstruct subdivision streets, Economou Ureste said.

“The average SAD is $7,000 per household. The township has been in a position to finance several SADs every year and saves each household approximately $1,000 by financing the road rehabilitation projects and not incurring bond issuance costs,” she said.

Foxpointe, Aldingbrooke, Maple Creek, Maple Place, Stonebridge and Chimney Hill roadway improvement projects are currently under consideration for 2014.

Public safety
The Emergency Medical Service division of the West Bloomfield Fire Department began a refurbishment program for the EMS fleet in 2013. In lieu of replacing the fleet with new vehicles, the program will save the township about $500,000, according to Economou Ureste. The first refurbished ambulance was received toward the end of 2013.

“Each ambulance remount is reconditioned with a like-new appearance, Wi-Fi, a driver’s safety feedback module, and a real-time vehicle locator and maintenance interface,” Economou Ureste said.

In addition to the refurbishment program, a new EMS data management program began in 2013 at no additional cost to the department. The electronic patient care records system and the EMS billing platform improved as a result of the data program.

Police Department
The Police Department responded to 17,700 calls in 2013, compared to 17,867 calls in 2012.  Teaming with the tri-cities, the West Bloomfield Police Department also receives and dispatches police and fire calls to the city of Orchard Lake, the city of Keego Harbor and the city of Sylvan Lake. In 2013, the department dispatched 6,752 calls for the tri-cities, which is a decrease from 6,922 calls in 2012.

For the first time in five years, the West Bloomfield Police Department hired new police officers in 2013 due to retiring officers. The department hired seven new officers.

West Bloomfield taxpayers voted to increase public safety funding several years ago, said Police Chief Michael Patton following the State of the Township Address. Formerly, the department had peaked at 82 staff members, but it currently is staffed with 73 members.

“We’re trying to get those numbers back, to a certain extent,” Patton said. “I always have to have the staff.”

In 2013, the West Bloomfield Police Department teamed with the U.S. Secret Service for identity theft and financial fraud cases. One officer has been assigned to the Southeast Michigan Financial Crimes Task Force.

“This was a concept team that the Secret Service put together here in Oakland County last year. Part of the Secret Service’s mission — most people think it’s protective details of the president — but they also do criminal investigations,” Patton said.

Upcoming events
Following the large turnout for the 2013 Household Hazardous Waste Day Recycling event, two additional hazardous material events have been scheduled, for April 26 and Sept. 20.

The fifth annual Wellness Day is scheduled for 11 a.m.-3 p.m. May 14. The West Bloomfield Diet Center will host a community weight loss challenge, and Henry Ford Hospital will hold cooking demonstrations, Economou Ureste said, in spotlighting upcoming events. Local sportscaster and West Bloomfield resident Terry Foster was selected to be the keynote speaker and will be available for autographs.

The township will honor the Water and Sewer Department’s 50 years in 2014. With help from the Greater West Bloomfield Historical Society, T-shirts will be sold to raise funds for a celebration to be held noon-3 p.m. July 15. The family-friendly event will feature water-related games and contests at the water and sewer facility on Haggerty Road.

For more details on events or for volunteer information, contact the supervisor’s office at (248) 451-4800.

To view the fifth annual State of the Township Address, visit www.civiccentertv.com.

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