New $929,165.00 Building To Store Salt

Op-Ed by Scot Beaton

City Council Regular Meeting
Meeting date/time: 4/22/2013 7:00 PM
Meeting location: 1000 Rochester Hills Drive

Our Mayor is requesting our City Council to grant him the authority to spend up to $929,165.00 on a new building at our DPS facility to store Salt.
Wow… that’s a lot on money for a building to house salt… don’t you think?

Let me try to explain… first we a going to tear down about 1/2 of the old DPS building and turn the remaining 1/2 into a cold storage facility. Then in the newly created open space were going to build a brand new 5,500 square foot facility to store 3,500 tons of road salt. We are going to pay MJC Construction Management up to $825,165.00 to build it and we are going to pay another company, Orchard, Hiltz & McCliment, Inc. up to $104,000.00 to oversee its construction.

Personal opinion… I’m all in favor of giving our hard working employees at the DPS the best tools to work with and maintain our streets summer and winter, but I’m also of the opinion this approach borders on extravagant government spending and reminds me of past water tank proposals. There are ‘buy out of a catalogue’ salt storage buildings that would coat a great deal less than what is being proposed Monday night.

I also question what fund balance is this funding coming from, and if it’s even legal. All I can tell with the information provided is the dollars are coming from our Water Sewer Capital Fund. Let me try to explain… Our Water Sewer fund balance is money in the bank to maintain our water sewer lines when they grow old and need replacement or they brake and need emergency repair. Our Water Sewer fund balance revenue source is a mark up the City puts on your Water Sewer bill. What the City pays Detroit is less than what the City of Rochester Hills charges you to maintain our Water Sewer system. Hope that made sense… but you just can’t take that money out of the bank and use it to build buildings to hold road salt, and as far as I know that is what our Mayor is proposing to do.

You can borrow money from that fund and pay the fund back with interest, but that resolution is not being presented to City Council. Funding to build a new 5,500 square foot facility to store 3,500 tons of road salt should come from the fund balance in our road fund, but that is also the same funding source to fix potholes and maintain our streets. So these kinds of questions should be asked first before a YES vote… Monday night even if we are already over $40.000 into this project I would vote NO or Table the Motions presented and look into a ‘buy out of a catalogue’ salt storage build first, and also resolve what fund balance should pay for this project.

Scot Beaton
Political Experience former Rochester Hills City Council member 1988 to 1997
President, Rochester Hills City Council (2 Years)

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