Rochester’s alternate OPC budget rejected

The governing bodies of Rochester Hills and Oakland Township this week rejected the request of Rochester City Council to change some line items in the 2012 budget of the Older Persons Commission.

In denying Rochester’s request, members of the Rochester Hills City Council and the Oakland Township Board of Trustees said they believe the structure that has governed the OPC since its inception is working, and they want the OPC governing board to remain independent of the communities’ politics.

“The way you accomplish good governance … is to appoint good people to the board,” said Hills Councilman Nathan Klomp. “I think it’s a bad precedence for us as a council to get into this sort of micromanaging these boards and committees. I think it’s more important to give them the sovereignty and stand-alone authority. … We should continue on the course we’ve had success on.”

Under an interlocal agreement that has been in place since 1983, the member communities each appoint voting members to the OPC governing board. That board approves a budget annually and sends it to the three member communities, who must each approve it.

The OPC board voted 5-2 to approve the budget, with the two Rochester members dissenting. Since then, Rochester City Council has declined to approve the budget. It’s the first time any community has refused to approve an OPC budget.

Rochester City Council wants expenses for OPC staff reduced, including a 1-percent raise, step raises and payment in lieu of health insurance. The city prepared an alternative budget proposal and sent it to the other two municipalities last week. On Monday, Rochester Hills City Council rejected it. On Tuesday, Oakland Township’s board did the same.

“The overall (OPC) budget was less than it was the prior year, the bottom line,” said Oakland Township Trustee Marc Edwards. “This is a representative form of government. … There was a vote; it was a 5-2 vote. The two dissenters were Rochester, which by the way contributes the least (to the OPC). To override that 5-2 vote is undemocratic.”

Oakland Township Trustee Michael Bailey said there is no precedent for the township board to change its mind, “just because the minority contributor to the OPC thinks otherwise.”

OPC board Chairman John Dalton asked both communities to consider the original intent of the interlocal agreement–the creation of an independent board, structured so no one community could dominate.

“It was not intended to have OPC subservient to any of the three entities. If Rochester’s request is approved, we will be starting down a slippery slope,” he said. “How do you serve three masters at one time?”

Hills Councilman Michael Webber, who is one of that city’s representatives on the OPC board, said the place to thrash out the budget is at the governing board.

“I’ve been on the winning end of some votes, I’ve been on the losing end of some votes.” He said. “The votes lie at the OPC board meeting. … Ultimately the governing board has the representatives of the three communities; it was put together by the three communities.”

Comments

  1. I agree about the budget however how can Klomp not be aware that the main problem is that the OPC board was not following the ILA. OPC is now in the process to rewrite both governing docs of the ILA and Bylaws including how the OPC want it to be. Nows the time to give feedback so it is a good/fair document.

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