Citizen Opinion: Show Me the Money

Citizen Opinion by Scot Beaton

Fiscal Responsibility, Rochester Hills

Hats off to all those who worked on the police millage proposal: Don Cline, Dale Hetrick, Walter Johnson, Linda Raschke, LeAnne Rogers, Nancy Soisson and Thomas Stephens. (hundreds of hours of work NO compensation from the city) but because of the current economic condition the nation is currently in, threats of a fiscal cliff etc., a straight up renewal would probably be the only millage the residents of Rochester Hills will probably support. Do the math: 1.2083 mills renewal, plus and up to 2.5 additional mills, for 10 years. Total 3.7083 mills, or if you own a $200,000 house that’s up to $370.00, or if you own a business like Bill Fox Chevrolet its $5,532.00 just for police per year. I personally feel the residents of Rochester Hills will see through this tax shift and vote no. I’m also personally sadden that our mayor and city council ignored many of your great ideas and came up with their own plan.

Council Members: Greg Hooper, James Rosen, Mark Tisdel, Adam Kochenderfer, Michael Webber, Nathan Klomp vote yes for the up to 3.7083 mills tax increase. Ravi Yalamanchi voted no.

Pouring Gasoline On The Fire, Rochester Hills

Monday, June 18th our Rochester Hills city council voted on this idea: “Resolved that the Rochester Hills City Council hereby approves funding for an Educational Campaign in the amount not-to-exceed $25,000.00 to educate voters on the details of the police funding ballot proposal that will appear on the August 7, 2012 Primary Election ballot.” Now according to state law the city can’t say YES or NO… so I guess 1/2 the money spent on an education will be for a NO vote and 1/2 will be for a YES vote. That did not happen, recently (I would assume) the city has mailed this direct mail piece out to all our registered voters. Now according to state law did this literature break any rules…? NO… but it is misleading to say the least which is too bad. Most people nowadays are just looking for a little honesty in government; is this to much to ask? What you are voting on is far different than what postcard says on the front side. The front side of the postcard is only a non-binding promise by the current mayor and council. What you are voting on is an up to 3.7083 mills tax increase. What you are voting on doesn’t even prevent a future mayor or city council from using general fund tax dollars to pay for police protection… read the ballot language closely “allow the City to discontinue”. What you are voting on doesn’t mandate the mayor or city council to reduce the general fund tax! What you are voting on states maintain the current level of service… then why does it state that cost is $10,864,051.00 when the current 2012 cost for Oakland County Sheriff protection is $8,963,770.00 (page 215) 2012 Rochester Hills budget. And finally the adoption of this kind of city council resolution printed on the postcard is non-binding, and this city council or any future city council can throw out this resolution at any time.

Council Members: Greg Hooper, James Rosen, Mark Tisdel, Adam Kochkenderfer, Michael Webber, Nathan Klomp vote yes for the postcard and to spend the $25,000.00. Ravi Yalamanchi voted no.

Still no new Oakland County Sheriffs, Rochester Hills.

Recently my daughter was a victim in a “fender bender” no injury… hit and run auto accident. Oakland County Sheriff response time was over 1/2 hour. Would you not be pissed off if you found out your daughter in her mid twenties had to wait in the dark over 1/2 hour for a cop… the system is broken in Rochester Hills. So even after this lengthy discussion about a funding source, your local government still is not solving the problem… are town needs to continue an intelligent discussion regarding long term public safety! Recently a good friend of mine put it this way… “all we are doing with this proposal is rearranging the deck-chairs on the Titanic.” Note: when someone gets caught shoplifting at Walmart it takes up to 3 hours of Oakland County Sheriff time to process the crime, that’s 3 hours their working for Walmart and not your daughters safety! When I left council that land was zoned office research and technology. Thought I’d share that thought with you too… because as of late our current mayor and city council are gung ho on changing all the remaining vacant land in Rochester Hills into strip malls… full of shoplifters and other crime that attaches itself to that kind of development.

After this millage fails… what is plan “B” in Rochester Hills?

I think it’s extremely important if you take the time to shoot down someone’s else’s idea you should have your own solutions… just always saying NO to any new taxes is not an intelligent solution. First and foremost we need a simple millage renewal on the November ballot. Yes… this only kicks the can down the road; but would buy time to continue the discussion regarding long term public safety in Rochester Hills. First we need an open transparent discussion on our needs and NOT how much it’s going to cost and what fund the money comes from! We need to listen to ourselves first… personally I don’t care how many cops Troy of Rochester has; or especially what the federal government tells me I should have! — We need a Rochester Hills solution. One of many examples we need to openly talk about: police protection is not for profit, we don’t need to hire a county police force… spending its time camping out in front of our restaurants busting drivers because they had just two or three beers… (just barely over the legal limit)… big money for law enforcement and the courts in the “DUI business.” I don’t make this up, many of these restaurants are my advertising clients, and they tell me all the time the Oakland County Sheriffs department stalks their restaurants which scares off their patrons. We need that to be an open transparent discussion… what is more important our public safety or Oakland County Sheriff’s bottom line. What’s more important in your mind, cops parked out in front of our restaurants or patrolling our neighborhood streets at night. We need to re-examine creating our own police force that does not have a long-term legacy cost… just because we contract with the Oakland County Sheriff does not mean were not strapped in with their long-term legacy cost… As long as we contract we pay. Maybe just maybe we need to elect those who do not just always rubber stamp the Oakland County Sheriff department as the only idea. Again what is more important your public safety or how much that public safety costs. Better yet, contrary to a lot of popular belief, we do have a lot of real intelligent full time employees up at city hall and I would love to see them look into a public safety service that may actually even cost less (in the long hall) than the Oakland County Sheriff. Recently a retired state representative told me that because the Oakland County Sheriff took over Pontiac… there is no way to prove if we’re paying them to patrol our streets or Pontiac streets. I don’t know how to prove if that statement is right or wrong but it’s certainly something worth thinking about. We also need an open transparent discussion regarding dispatch… yet again money was more important than your public safety… our current mayor ruined a perfectly good Rochester Hills dispatch department just so he also could retain his bottom line, and his political future. Whether you call dispatch from a landline or your cell phone the first thing you have to tell them is what city your in… what would happen if you didn’t know? When I was on city council all phone calls went to the main fire house on Livernois. Example if your husband is having a heart attack in front of Kroger (there is only one Kroger in Rochester Hills) under the current system your emergency phone calls are directed to some undisclosed bunker in Waterford, MI… do the math there are 10 Kroger Stores in Oakland County? Saving one’s life is all about the seconds it takes not minutes. Let’s all renew the current millage and look at our needs next, then decide how to fund and where to fund our needs for public safety.

Current Rochester Hills 2012 general fund expenditures:

102 – City Council  $177,360

171 – Mayor’s Department $1,695,830

191 – Elections Division $355,440

201 – Accounting Division $1,069,840

209 – Assessing Department $1,147,320

210 – Legal Services $307,500

215 – Clerk’s Office $984,610

233 – Human Resources $588,370

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