(In response to, Goodrich Dam issues spring up again, fixes, inspection needed, The Citizen, Feb. 15, page 1).
During the last Village Council meeting the Council voted to postpone repairs on the Village dam. The primary provision in the sales agreement between the city of Flint and the Village was that the Village agreed to maintain the dam. The agreement did not say that the maintenance should only occur in certain weather conditions.
During January,at the request of the Village DPW, Wade Trim visited the Mill Pond dam to observe a potential issue with the operating gates and dam structure.
A contractor who had previously worked on the dam recommended a dive team further inspect and complete temporary repairs until a more permanent fix can be determined. A reasonable approach that would avert additional problems that could occur by waiting several months. The dam is like an elderly patient that needs immediate attention if a problem is found.
The estimate cost of inspection and repairs is $3,875 which the Council did not approve. However, a few months ago the Council approved over $2,000 for banners hanging from light poles within the Village.
This Council has made some questionable decisions during its tenure, hopefully this will not be added to that record.
Ben Franklin rightly quoted “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Hopefully, the council will reconsider their position.
Brandon Township received an impressive 2018 audit report as our fund balance continued to increase.
However, in October the Township moved $1.1 million from the general fund carry forward to the Fire Department Equipment & Housing for payment of ½ interest in the M-15 property that was previously paid for by the Fire Department. The transferred funds were used to replace a 25-year-old tanker and 25-year-old pumper. Although we did not have to increase taxes to help fund these new vehicles, next year’s 2019 audit report won’t be quite so glowing due to this expenditure. None the less, we still have enough saved in the Township’s designated “Rainy Day” Fund in case the Township should experience a catastrophe or other unforeseen expenditure. Additionally, the Township’s legacy costs are on track to being fully funded. Our Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) was 7.6% funded in 2012. As of May 31, 2019 we were 65.96% funded. The Township’s pension funded ratio remains strong at 78%. In an effort to be more transparent, residents can use the Munetrix link at our www.brandontownship.us website to find audit reports and other pertinent fiscal data.
In 2019 Brandon Township saw 31 new housing starts compared to 34 new housing starts in 2018 which is down from the 55 new housing starts we experienced in 2017. However, our revenue from building permits was slightly higher due to 11 commercial building permits in 2019 comparted to 7 in 2018. Construction of C-More Storage at Sashabaw and Seymour Lake Road is coming along and they should be opening to the public sometime this year. We continue to see additional revenue as our assessing department continues to find omitted property in the Township. With the economy remaining positive, homeowners will see an average increase of 5.3% to their home values this year, although the majority of property tax increases will not be more than 1.9%.
In 2019 the Road Commission for Oakland County paved Sashabaw Road between Sherwood and Granger and did an overlay project on Oakwood Road from M-15 to Leece. The Road Commission added gravel to most of Kent Road in 2019. In 2020, we will be looking to add additional gravel to the rest of Kent, parts of Granger and parts of Hurd Road.
Two of the four baseball fields along with parking, a basketball court, four sand volleyball courts and linking pathways at the Brandon Township Community Park were started in 2019 and should be completed this year. Recently, we were notified that we will be awarded grant funding to build a concession/restroom facility in the same area of the park.
In 2020 the Township will be seeking public input for revisions to our Master Plan. Watch the Citizen and Brandon-Ortonville Community Information Facebook page to see how you can participate.
Residents will be asked to respond to the 2020 census this March. Help shape your future and respond online, by phone or by mail. Everyone needs to be counted since the census is used to determine legislative districts and the amount of federal funds that will come back to the community to support clinics, schools, roads, public services and hundreds of other critical services and programs.
The future continues to look promising for Brandon Township. We are committed to providing the best governmental services possible for our residents and appreciate the community support we have received over the years.
Vote yes for bond
I am writing to show my support for the proposed Brandon Schools Bond. As a Brandon parent I am grateful that my children are able to grow up in our small, supportive community. Our citizens look out for each other, especially in times of illness, tragedy or grief. It’s a blessing!
Over the past 6 years our superintendent and school board have worked tirelessly to improve curriculum, bolster safety and eliminate bloat in the budget. After making several difficult decisions, our district is “right sized” for our population.
The state directs districts to pursue bonds for major building/facility projects and repairs. It is up to us, the local community, to be good stewards and maintain these properties. As homeowners, my husband and I are prideful in taking care of our home and that pride extends to our public buildings (schools, government offices, the library, senior center, etc).
The bond will cost my family roughly $83 per year. I can’t think of a better way for an individual contribution to benefit so many people. The updates will greatly impact current and future generations alike. It’s heartwarming to realize that one day my future grandchildren could be using the facilities that my “yes” vote helped to supply.
Some school districts in Michigan have let their facilities deteriorate through years of apathy and willful neglect. That’s not what we’re about here in Brandon/Groveland. We take care of each other! Please vote YES on March 10th!
Just say no to school bond proposal
The Brandon School District is proposing a $20,000,000 Bond issue to solve major infrastructure concerns within the district. It will only cost the average homeowner $100 per year to finance this deal. Sounds terrific – too good to be true? To me, the deal feels like a street hustle switch and bait shell game. My response to all street hustle deals is always “JUST SAY NO!!”
Some major questions and concerns that I have are as follows:
How are we doing with paying back the $72 million bond of 2006?
Let’s examine some of that bond’s historical “highlights” that our citizens are still paying for:
(1) A new elementary school on our district’s northern border – not needed! Especially when we decided to shut down our “Michigan Blue Ribbon” Belle Anne Elementary school that attracted students on our southern border! (2) A new $10 million dollar football stadium – not needed! We could have simply updated our older historic football stadium for one tenth of the cost. (3) A new “IT” building that was going bring our educational technology learning into the 21st century – not needed! Do any classes use that building at all? (4) New tennis courts – not needed! Our existing lighted courts were solidly adequate! (5) Technology enhancements – were outdated almost before the wiring was completed.
I could go on and on, but I think that you get the point! Our citizens are still paying for these follies and will continue to pay for them until we die. Meanwhile, the Superintendent and School Board members that stuck us with that school bond albatross have all moved on to greener pastures.
I also have a question regarding the $5,000,000 “Sinking Fund” that the school district recently set up and borrowed from to pay for “urgent” repairs. I’m assuming that our citizens will be paying off this debt too!
And now our current Superintendent and School Board wish to play a new version of the shell game and do the same thing to us as their predecessors. The current bond proposal is basically a $20,000,000 “wish list” of improvements that would be nice to have, but not necessary.
A simple rule of personal finance is that you don’t get out of debt by incurring additional debt. Instead, pay off your existing debt first!! Do you really want to crush our citizens with an additional $20,000,000 of debt and bring our grand total to $100,000,000 of debt that will ultimately be passed along to our children and grand children? We will never get out of debt!!
We will be voting on this critical issue on Tuesday, March 10th – “Just Say No”!!
Vote yes for bond
We love and support this community and our schools. On March 10th there is a bond vote to repair and update our school facilities.
We saw the project list. It involves a couple of areas that are especially important to us and are desperately in need of upgrades or repairs.
The first item that caught our eye was the updates to our POOL. The Brandon pool is the envy of all other high school pools. Both of our kids learned to swim there at the young age of 3. Our daughter spent two years on the high school swim team. We know how inviting it is compared to other district’s pools. Finally the pool’s structural issues that have plagued that facility will get addressed.
Next, we strongly support the attention given to TECHNOLOGY and STEM labs. Our schools need this emphasis in order for our students to compete in the working world. Also, school SAFETY is very important to us. We are so pleased to see that SAFETY is remaining a priority and will be improved upon and expanded. We do not want our community to quit on our kids and schools.
We say “Never Quit”. We say YES4BrandonKids. But we especially say HawkYES! Please VOTE YES on the bond so that money will remain in our classrooms.
Diane & Scott Salter, Ortonville.
Vote no on school bond
They tell you it’s for routine maintenance just like your home things need to be repaired. Don’t they budget for routine maintenance?
Do you go borrow money every time your house needs some type of repair?
The swimming pool. What a joke. If they said they were going to fill it in and convert it to a vocational training center I would be all for it. Imagine a students could actually learn a trade what a concept.
New carpeting, really? Do you get a better education than on a tile floor that last 50+ years not 3 or 4? How about some good decision making? I didn’t see anything about teachers’ pay increases. That trickles down to more engaged teachers and better educated students. They tell you it’s only $85.00 per year what about the last bond that they wasted on a school we didn’t need and have yet to pay off. They spent over a million fixing up Bell Ann then sold it for $500,000. What about that $85.00++ times a few thousand people that could shop and spend at Papa Bella’s or Hamilton’s, etc. They pay tons of taxes and employ people that pay taxes. That’s how the wheel goes around.
Did our leaders sleep through economics class? Their claim is top notch schools will attract people to the area. Well taxing to the limits of the law repels people from the area. Here’s an interesting concept. How about lead by example teach our students fiscal responsibility, live within your means, long term planning, put some money away you’re going to need it. You can’t barrow yourself to prosperity. We are in an economic boom so it easy to say what the heck, but this is the time to put money away or pay down debt not barrow more. Hopefully it’s a long ways of but a rainy day is coming
Support Brandon bond
We would like to take a moment and ask everyone what does your hometown mean to you? Why did you choose Brandon/Ortonville? When we were trying to find a place to raise our little family, Brandon beat out towns like Romeo, Almont and even Clarkston. We wanted that environment for our children where they would run into friends and teachers while grabbing that pizza, or that last minute gallon of milk at the local grocery store. We wanted a great school system where they would and could be individuals and not just a number in a large population of students. A place where they mattered and people cared. After living here for six years, we can tell you that we are so blessed and happy that we found everything we were looking for in Brandon and the Brandon School District.
When a local business owner needs our help; we answer the call. When we lost a near and dear friend/community member who protected our kids and community, we rallied together and vowed to #NeverQuit.
We are #OtronvilleStrong. I am asking that we answer the call again and this time for our children and grandchildren in the community. Help preserve our legacy and enhance the environment and buildings in which our future learns in. Together we can make a difference. We are all #Blackhawks and we are truly the best place to raise a family and build an everlasting legacy.
When it comes times to vote on March 10th, please vote HAWK YES!
School district management is failing
Below are a few examples of the mismanagement, confusion, and double talk taking place with the Brandon School District’s total management group, including Supt. Outlaw, Meek, and Diane Salter and the School Board.
In The Citizen January 18, 2020 article with Outlaw titled “District seeks bond for building improvements” there are two examples of misleading the public in one sentence. “The last tax levy was in 2006 when voters agreed to 8.24 mills, which increased to 13 mills due to the housing crisis.”
First, this was a deliberate tax increase by the school district on July 1, 2015, so this was another levy, period! Second, it was NOT due to the housing crisis. It was due to Public Act 437 that was passed by the state in 2012 to help improve it’s bond rating.
Anther example was in the same article and stated, “….. the district is at a point where they have exhausted cost savings options and have $11 million in essential projects that cannot be addressed in a year-to-year budget.” So if that’s the case, WHY is Outlaw and the School District asking for a $19.5 million bond? $8.5 million more than what’s essential is outrageous!
Now a few examples regarding another article in The Citizen from February 15, 2020 titled “Bond facts” by Diane Salter, school board president and Brandon Board of Education. Salter “Fact”: We are collecting 100% (0.83mills) of the tax dollars to pay off our debt-Not 53% (she ASSUMES that the $20 million bond proposal passes, NOT!). If she would read the Bond Proposal submitted to the Elections Division it clearly states the “estimated simple average annual millage anticipated to be required to retire the bond debt is 1.56 mills.” I didn’t say that, your School District said that! What dysfunction! Gotta go, out of space.
Let’s stick together like we did in 2016 and shoot down this bond and not add $20 million more debt to the current $97 million debt.
Vote yes for Brandon students
I am a parent of three boys in the Brandon School District. Next fall, they will be enrolled in three out of four buildings in our district. I have an opinion on why we should support our upcoming school bond, but my letter today is strictly about facts.
It is important to understand how school funding works in the state of Michigan. According to an article in the Mackinac Center Report for Public Policy, Michigan is one of few states that does not provide money directly for the purpose of building and facility maintenance and improvements. That is the reason why schools must go to their taxpayers to support these necessary expenses. According to this same report, over 85 percent of school districts in the state of Michigan have taxpayer supported bonds.
The last school bond that passed in Brandon was in 2005. We are now asking for a Yes vote to pass a bond in March 2020. Most of our neighboring districts have had one or in most cases two bonds passed in similar time frames. Goodrich passed a bond in 2011 and is asking for a bond in May 2020. Bonds have also passed in Holly in 2006 and 2018, Oxford in 2009 and 2017, Clarkston in 2003 and 2016, and Lake Orion in 2002 and 2018. I could go on with districts throughout Michigan, but these districts hit close to our homes. In fact, Brandon is the only district in our immediate area who has not passed a bond in the past 9 years.
I work in the Avondale School District. In 2010, we went through the closing of our upper elementary building, a situation that hits close to home in Brandon. Unfortunately, it had to be part of the right sizing of the district based on decreasing enrollment. In fact, there have been many districts in our area that have been faced with the closing of school buildings and restructuring. Even with that situation, the Avondale Community passed school bonds in both 2014 and 2017.
Brandon School District students deserve the support of Brandon and Groveland residents the way nearby district’s residents have supported their students. Vote Yes for our children.
Vote no for bond
On Monday, February 17, 2020, I had planned to attend the Brandon School Board meeting to provide additional information on why I do not support the upcoming request to increase the millage. Unfortunately, due to Presidents Day, they changed the date of the meeting to last week. As I was unable to provide additional information directly to the School Board and Administration, I decided to share it with the community in this letter to the editor.
I can not support increasing what I view as an already excessive amount of debt that the School District has. To support this statement, I’ll list some of the financial numbers found in the June 2019 Financial Reports for Brandon, Holly and Goodrich. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t understand everything in these reports, but if you compare common items it becomes apparent that Brandon is an outlier.
In the 2019 Financial Report it states that one way to evaluate the financial health or financial position of the district is to look at the total net position, which is roughly a comparison of assets versus liabilities. The total net position for Brandon is (-$70.3 million), for Holly it is (-$44.3 million) and for Goodrich it is (-$35.8 million). The report also lists net investments in capital assets which compares the original cost, less depreciation of the School Districts capital assets to long-term debt used to finance the acquisition of those assets. The net investment for Brandon is (-$29.7 million), for Holly it’s $14.8 million and for Goodrich it’s (-$5.5 million). Brandon has a General Obligation Bond debt of $73.1 million, Holly has $53.3 million and Goodrich has $40.6 million. In 2019 Brandon paid $3.6 million in interest payments, Holly paid $1.9 million and Goodrich paid $1.4 million.
We are all aware that the school district through previous administrations has put the district in significant debt. Carrying that large of a debt means a significant portion of our tax dollars goes to paying interest on the debt and not toward the education of our students. It also means that every expenditure needs to receive maximum benefit as we can’t afford to waste any money. We all understand that physical structures and facilities need to be maintained and replaced over time. But what we don’t understand are some of the following:
1. Why is there a request in the upcoming millage for $1.1 million to repair the BHS & HSE roof, when the roof was repaired in 2019?
2. The proposed expenditures include $113,000 for locker replacement at HSE, yet some lockers where brought over from the Intermediate School before it was sold – why weren’t more brought over so we would not have to spend the $113,000?
3. At a time when this district is struggling to afford the maintenance of it’s facilities and structures, this administration and board are recommending building more!!! The proposal to spend $150,000 on an outdoor restroom facility at the ITEC is unbelievable. Pay someone to open up the ITEC and stay in attendance so folks can use the existing interior restrooms. Or if need be – rent some porta johns.
4. In the information placed on the BSD website, almost $3.4 million of the proposed millage will go to covering bond issuance costs and contingencies. That means MILLIONS and MILLIONS of dollars are being spent on administration fees and interest payments on the debt this district is carrying.
I want the majority of my tax dollars to go to the education of the students in this district. That means this board and administration need to more effectively utilize our tax dollars. We need to “right size” this district, in facilities AND the amount of debt it carries relative to the student size and revenue generated from the taxpayers. Until we see more evidence of that happening, I cannot support increasing this school district’s debt.
Vote yes for bond
Our family is going on our 13th year here in Brandon Schools, and we have another six and half years to go.
During our first several years here in Brandon I witnessed old administration talk about making cuts after many poor financial decisions. What seemed to be continually lacking was a vision for the future of our district and ultimately the students. However this is no longer the case.
Over the past 5 years, Dr. Outlaw, along with our board, has worked diligently in bringing a vision back to Brandon. They have also prudently sought out ways to tighten our budget and eliminate unneeded spending. Closing schools, right sizing the district and outsourcing bussing are just a few examples
These decisions were not easy decisions to make, but were absolutely necessary. Some expenditures proposed on the current bond may not directly enrich education in the classroom, but they do directly relate to the safety and security of our classrooms and learning spaces. We have to take care of our Brandon schools just like we take care of our own homes. Our homes wear down over time and there is continual upkeep needed to prevent larger problems. Our schools have hundreds of people using them on a near daily basis for a large majority of the year. We would not be able to meet all of these needs without the passing of this bond. The bond allows the financial stability to reach a multitude of needs which helps keep cuts away from our classrooms.
I look forward to watching our administration devise innovative and conservative ways to keep our district moving forward.
Vote yes for the Brandon Bond
When we first heard about the Brandon School Bond initiative, we have to admit we were skeptical. As frequently outspoken challengers of taxation, the idea of adding more tax dollars to our budget made us cringe.
However, upon further research and investigation, we have learned how the State of Michigan works. The money the district receives per student is essentially just enough to cover operational costs, there is little remaining for capital expenditures. A bond is a cost-effective way to provide for the many necessary improvements on our facilities, and interest rates are extraordinarily favorable at this point in time. There is nothing of greater importance than providing appropriate and well-kept facilities to educate our kids.
As we have followed our current Board of Education over the past several years, we are continually impressed with the fiscal responsibility this group has demonstrated. As a direct result of their intentionality and efforts, our district has run with a balanced budget for the past 7 years, 8 consecutive years of spotless financial audits.
A school district, particularly in a small town, is truly the focal point of a community. Sporting events, parades, band & choir concerts, elementary school Christmas programs, plays and musicals. All of these events draw a huge crowd outside of the school community, and even family members from much more far-reaching areas of the state. People from all over town come to swim laps in the pool or use the Varsity Drive track to walk, run, and socialize.
These funds are more than simply a face lift, they are an investment in our community and will allow us to recognize Ortonville’s proud educational history and continue generating a bright future for our school district.
Scott and Leanne Claxton