I’d like to publicly acknowledge and thank the organizers and members of the Lion’s Club who showed up at my house last Saturday, to rock and rake. At age 88, I’m less and less able to do things like yard cleanup and window washing on a ladder, so I’m enormously grateful to the kind people who gave their time and energy so generously. Rockin’ and Rakin’ is a tradition in our area, and one that I hope will continue for many years.
Do not be silent
I apologize to readers of my letter “Gun Snobbery.”
I may have been obscure.
I was trying to say we all need to speak out on gun safety, no matter our knowledge of guns. Everyone, whatever their position on gun control, needs to take part in this important discussion. Poorly written & overly long letters to the editor critical of others’ knowledge of guns, smarmily advising us to “be silent,” should not stop us from speaking out. Gun safety is too important to exclude anyone from talking about it.
Here’s what my friend told me: “It’s a common tactic to shut down critics: insist they use terminology & jargon in an approved manner otherwise they don’t get to have an opinion. It’s like saying the government shouldn’t be able to set speed limits unless those that do know the difference between a thermoquad and holly carburetors.”
If we are unsure of some facts, a quick Google search will confirm the existence of 13-gauge shotguns and the ratio of black powder components, just to pick out two topics randomly.
We need to question anyone whoever presents himself as an expert. I join other readers in their puzzlement of who is considered a gun expert today.
We do not need experts to tell us what we know in our hearts: that we need to work to make our world safer from gun violence. You are your own expert in your desire to live. You are your own expert in your hopes not to be shot. You are your own expert in your expectation of safe schools and safe children. Do not be silent.
Belle Ann purchase
Your Brandon Township Board of Trustees will be voting on the purchase of the Belle Ann school property during this Monday’s Board Meeting starting at 7 pm May 7th 2018 at the Brandon Township Office.
During the past month the township formed a Bell Ann sub-committee and held several Special Meetings and Workshops to consider the school purchase and the moving of the Township facilities. Under consideration is the following:
1. Taxpayer funding for the purchase of Belle Ann Elementary from the Brandon School District for an estimated $500,000. 2. Taxpayer funding for the renovation of Belle Ann Elementary to fit the townships move requirements at an estimated cost of $920,000. 3. Moving the Township offices from downtown Ortonville to Belle Ann on Glass Road. 4. Moving the OCSO substation from downtown Ortonville to Belle Ann on Glass Road. 5. Moving the OTV office from downtown Ortonville to Belle Ann on Glass Rd. and 6. Moving the Senior Center from Ball Street to Belle Ann on Glass Road.
The complete estimated amount to complete this purchase and move is anywhere from $1.6 to $1.8 million.
The majority of project “pros” consists of larger and better offices and more convenient parking for both Township employees and residents. All the pros listed by the Board are intangible benefits which do not provide taxpayer savings. The Township operating costs are estimated to increase by $50,000 per year at the new facility (close to the same estimate for maintaining the Iron Bell trail annually, if the trail had been approved and passed).
The project “cons” include the large expense and potential move of the Township Offices, OCSO Brandon substation, OTV Office and Brandon Senior Center out of downtown Ortonville into the Belle Ann school. This will produce four additional downtown building vacancies in downtown Ortonville until the properties are sold by the Township.
Fellow taxpayers, there is simply no return on taxpayer investment on this project. The township already owns a vacant lot on M15 which was purchased in 2005 for $1,500,000 which stills stand dormant.
I urge Brandon taxpayers to consider this proposal and make your opinion known during the May 7th meeting. Is this the best use of our taxpayer dollars? Do you want to see the Township office, Brandon Substation, OTV and Senior Center moved to Belle Ann from downtown Ortonville at great expense with little or no return?
Potholes, washboard and dust
The Brandon Township Supervisor’s Office has received numerous calls in regard to the maintenance of our gravel roads. If it isn’t about the pot holes it’s about the washboard and dust.
The township contracts with the Road Commission for Oakland County for dust control on the secondary roads. The RCOC pays for the dust control on the primary roads. The primary gravel roads in Brandon Township include Oakhill west of M-15, Hadley, Sashabaw and Baldwin north of Oakwood. The majority of roads in Brandon found east of M-15 are serviced out of the Lake Orion garage. The Lake Orion garage also maintains the roads in Oxford, Orion, Addison and Oakland. Roads in Brandon Township on the west side of M-15 and other townships on the north/west side of Oakland County are serviced out of the Davisburg garage.
The RCOC tries to start the chloride program rotation in mid-April which can fluctuate a couple of weeks depending on the weather.
This year they are a week behind while last year they were able to get an earlier start. First, all of the primary gravel roads in all five townships are graded and chlorided. Next, they begin doing the secondary roads according to the grading and chloriding schedule. Each year the grading and chloriding schedule rotates between the five townships. This year Brandon is first in the rotation. Last year we were third.
In the spring, prior to the grading/chloriding program beginning, the RCOC pulls the berm from the edge of the road that was pushed there by the snow plows and grades out the potholes created from the melted snow and heavy rains. If the roads are too wet and muddy grading will only make the roads worse. If the roads are too dry they can turn to washboard and get dusty. If we get a severe rain event that produces potholes the RCOC can’t grade all the gravel roads at one time so they concentrate on the worst areas first.
Due to the amount of work involved in getting through the grading and chloriding rotation five times each season the RCOC is always watching the weather. A light rain is ideal for keeping moisture in the roads when they are graded and the chloride is added. If the weather is very dry it seems like the chloride applications are too light. If a sudden rain storm appears it can wash the newly applied chloride right off the road. In any case the RCOC is trying to do the best job their resources and weather conditions permit. If you have potholes or other road problems to report, the RCOC can be contacted at (248) 858-4804.
Brandon Township Supervisor
Belle Ann purchase
Do you know what your Township Trustees are doing? If not, I highly encourage you to attend the Township Board meeting on Monday night at 7 pm.
Do you remember the debacle with the trails’ proposal? I’m not talking about whether you were for or against the trails. I’m talking about the vast amount of time the Trustees spent working on this and then discovering at the last minute that they needed way more money if the proposal was to go through. Since the Township didn’t have the money, the proposal was voted down.
Well, it’s happening again. The Trustees are considering purchasing the Belle Ann School for the Township offices. If we didn’t have the money for the trails, where is the money coming from for this purchase? The committee did a good job putting the limited information together, but, if you don’t have the money what is the point.
Again, whether you’re for or against isn’t the issue. The issue is that they are hurrying to make a decision, based on the seller’s time table, without all of the necessary information and without the source of funding known. The preliminary potential costs are estimated at $1.6 million without all of the costs included yet.
We attended the “workshop” this last Monday to hear the committee’s report. Several questions were asked, such as, “Where will the money come from? What is the balance in the General Fund? What is the balance owed for the unfunded pension and other benefits liabilities?” Most of the Trustees were unable to answer these. Just so you know, the last numbers published regarding the Unfunded Liabilities (monies we taxpayers are responsible to pay) was approximately $3.2 million. The audit for 2017 is currently being completed and an actuarial study is being done to get these answers. These won’t be available until June. Yet, without this information, the Trustees are planning to make a decision on the purchase on Monday.
We also reviewed an estimate prepared by a construction company for the remodeling/repairs/renovations needed to utilize the building. The estimate clearly stated that it is based on a “brief field visit” and that no designs were prepared for the estimate. It states that the estimate is not guaranteed and the final competitively bid construction contract award could vary significantly. There is also an extensive list, included with the estimate, of many other items not included in the estimate. There was no estimate that I could see allocated for the necessary design work.
There has been no estimated annual Township operating budget completed to see how this project would impact the overall budget of the Township. A budget of the estimated annual operating costs and estimated one-time costs was completed, but this was not then put in an overall operating budget for the Township. There has not been a cash flow budget done. There has not been an estimate of future repairs/renovations that might be needed for this old building that has sat vacant for 4 years.
During discussion of the estimated annual operating costs for the building comments were made that many of the numbers being used were not researched, but simply speculation.
If you’ve read this far, I hope you’re beginning to get concerned with this process.
The Trustees know they have a fiduciary responsibility to the citizens of this Township. I expect they will do the right thing. They must have ALL of the information before making a decision, especially how it would be funded.
All I am suggesting is that they gather and use the same information any commercial business would in making this type of decision.
Please plan to attend the Board meeting on Monday, May 7th at 7 pm. Let your voice be heard.
Thank you for your time and efforts to continue to make this a viable, well-run Township that welcomes the input of its citizens.
Brandon Township Citizen