Rochester preparing its own budget for OPC

Revisions to the 2012 budget for the Rochester Older Persons Commission are being prepared by Rochester’s city administration and are expected to be sent to Rochester Hills and Oakland Township this week.

The move comes after Rochester City Council voted Nov. 29 to prepare a budget proposal that would eliminate a 1% raise already approved by the OPC governing board, along with step increases and a new payment in lieu of health insurance. Council directed that the money saved be put toward fee reductions in non-travel-related programs and Meals on Wheels.

Under an agreement between the three municipalities, each member community must approve the OPC’s annual budget. Rochester Hills and Oakland Township have already approved the 2012 budget prepared by the OPC board.

The OPC’s fiscal year begins Jan. 1. This is the first time in the OPC’s history that any community has declined to approve the budget. Rochester Mayor Stuart Bikson said that since the OPC has voted operating millages from all three communities, services will continue, “no matter what, until we work this out. … That’s the law that was voted in by the people.”

A subcommittee made up of representatives of the OPC board and all three communities met once to try to work out a compromise. Bikson said the meeting was “very cordial,” but the other communities rejected Rochester’s position that the increases, taken together with a new 401k-style pension, are excessive in the current economic climate.

At the OPC’s Dec. 1 meeting, OPC Chairman John Dalton said meals and transportation are the OPC’s two primary functions and that both are adequately funded in the 2012 budget.

“This board is very much aware of the impact Meals on Wheels and transportation have,” he said. “This board is never going to let those two programs in any way, shape or form be underfunded.”

The budget issue has prompted the OPC board to take a look at the interlocal agreement that governs operations. A separate subcommittee has been looking at revisions to try to avoid future problems like the budget issue.

The agreement was last amended in 1995. The revisions are expected to be ready by the OPC board’s January meeting. If approved, the proposal would then go to the three communities’ governing bodies for approval.

One issue is already shaping up for conflict. Wording in the current agreement as to how many votes it takes to pass a motion came under dispute during the pension discussion. The subcommittee wants to clarify the language to say that a majority voting at a meeting is sufficient. Bikson said passage should require a majority of the entire board, and that anything else “won’t fly” with Rochester City Council.
Several residents who attended the OPC meeting said they are concerned about the OPC’s future.

“We are so fortunate to have this in our community; we need at all costs to preserve it,” said Mira Bakhle of Rochester Hills. “The one (community) that contributes the least is making the most noise. … Why are we hindering our own progress?”

Michael O’Donnell called the staff raises “miniscule” and accused Rochester officials of “an arrogance of power.”

“Programs have been increasing and Meals on Wheels has been increasing tremendously,” he said.

Comments

  1. Ben Giovanelli says

    Nice to see a reporting outlet which offer a fair and balanced report that is in no way politically inflammatory. Thanks so much for your contribution to our community.

    As for everyone else, at least in Rochester we just had an election which this very topic was made Issue #1 by a couple of candidates who proudly boasted that a vote for them was a vote to save the OPC. Given seniors are the largest voting block (why this is so political), the fact that these two candidates who used this as a wedge issue, one of which’s mother actually runs the OPC, came in dead last and as for Mrs. Russell, came within 20 votes of 4th place despite the OPC voting machine. The fact that myself and Steve Sage who took a stand in this issue came in first and second place respectively, tells me *most* people who live in the real world, like us, appreciate what we are trying to do.

    I understand that actually seeking the other side of a story would not fulfill your political objective but in the sense of fairness, you might want to mention that the budget Rochester sent back eliminates the 1% increase and gives that funding back to Meals on Wheels and reduces fees paid by seniors.

    This whole thing is bordering on the absurd. Am I the only one who understands how precarious our financial situation is around here? Why any organization would actively seek increasing its fixed costs with no measurable increase in services delivered, in this environment, is nuts. You might also want to mention that the payment in lieu of benefits and the raise translate into a 10% increase in compensation for the Director. But I understand that is too politically inflammatory.

    Ben Giovanelli, CPA
    Rochester City Council

  2. The ILA needs to be reviewed as well as the process at OPC. John Dalton allowed an illegal vote by letting a pensions go through last year. If not for a few RH residents the ILA and the Bylaws of OPC would not be cleaned up from years of bad policies and the Board doing what they wanted when they wanted!

    Rochester’s Council does have their own agenda and have overstated their power and own importanct again! Voters get what they deserve with Ben Again!

  3. Gee Ben CPA, what were you thinking when you gave the cops over 12% when compounded in their contract 3 years ago with no reforms? (Political Payback)
    Sure, you gave them 0 this time and have proudly plastered that all over the place.
    Quit sucker punching the voters with your tactic of advertising anything (dosen’t need to be honest) to rile the voters.
    You and yours attacked our hotel and then lost on the issue and had to pay fines. I DARE ANYONE TO FIND THAT CONSENT JUDGEMENT IN COUNCIL MINUTES OR ONTHE CITY WEBSITE! Open government? Ha? You spend way too much time in the back room under ‘attorney client privilege’.
    You and yours have also drained the DDA funds. You don’t like that organization so you try to wreck it. Oh, don’t forget the $90 grand of DDA money that your new auditor mistakenly gave away.
    Write all the budgets for OPC you want. You have no authority to do that and your only purpose is to keep the spin going for 2012. Right?
    Rochester has membership on the OPC Board and if it doesn’t always get its way, it rants like a spoiled child. Grow up. Don’t destroy this first class ‘quality of life’ amenity for our community, too.

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