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Trustee Wayne Dockett opened the meeting by criticizing the Board's plans to tap the rainy day fund for $400,000-$500,000.  This subject dominated the February 27th Visioning session

Half the money, the price of a house, will be spent on a fancy boardroom to hold meetings that almost nobody attends.  "Another two hundred grand" is to be spent expanding the Senior Center parking lot.  Only 2% ($10,000) is slated to be spent on downtown Whitmore Lake.

In Dockett's opinion, we don't have any "extra" money.  He ran down a laundry list of ongoing committments and incidental, regular, and unexpected expenses: The non-motorized path...  Sidewalks from the Township Hall to the school...  Fire trucks...  Employee raises...  New full time employees...  Employment insurance...  Emergencies...  The bottomless moneypit of road work, whether Proposal 1 passes or not. 

Why not use the money to pay down the Township Hall/Public Safety Building debt?  We still owe $4.9M of the original $6.8M borrowing.

Manager Fink and Trustee Otto both said we couldn't use the $400-$500K to pay down the Public Safety Building debt because there was a prepayment penalty.  Neither person spelled out whether the amount of the penalty outweighed the present value of interest payments saved.  That's the real question.  It deserves an answer.

The Elephant in the Room is that this $400-$500K pile of cash is a one time prize.  Since the day our Township was forced to borrow $500,000 to stay afloat in 2003-4, Boards have nursed the Rainy Day Fund back to health.  It is not just our safety net.  It's the only money we've got.

Other discussions:

In his report, Manager Fink has included paying attention to infrastructure maintenance and future obligations in the upcoming Capital Improvements plan.  At present, the township has no money set aside for future road maintenance costs.  Michigan now has the most poorly funded road system in America.

Fink discussed his first meeting on the WALLY steering committee.  He says WALLY won't happen for at least 6 or 7 years.  If this seems unoptimistic, check out the stories on our WALLY resource page.  We've collected links to thirty or forty news articles and links to millions of dollars in Consultant's reports.  $32 Million has been spent so far.  A collection of unuseable rail cars is costing $3000/day.  Yet another $650,000 Consultant's study is underway - and there's no end in sight.

Northfield Township's new hires continue to treat us like a revolving door.  At this meeting the Board voted to offer jobs to two applicants to replace two recent office resignations.  Public Safety Director Bill Wagner said that another part time Police Officer had moved on. 

This brings us back to Go.  If our Township weren't saddled with unnecessary debt it could afford to pay employees enough to stick around.  As things are, the Township cannot or will not pay them competitive wages, so they move on.  If we placed as high a value on people as we place on appearances, we wouldn't be in this fix.

The meeting is on Livestream so you can decide for yourself. 

I'm trying to put these meetings in context, as I see it.  If anyone wishes to offer their own perspective or debate this blog's, I can open posts like this to public comments.  Write: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..