Tag Archives: Trustee Thalmann

Supervisor Gonser attempts to defend his lie in Rochester Post article

At the January 13, 2015 Oakland Township Board meeting, one of the agenda items was a discussion about the decision and authority to cancel the televising of the September 29, 2014 Board meeting(s).  It has previously been reported that Supervisor Gonser had cancelled the taping and televising of the meetings.  In those meetings, our former Township Manager, Ann Capela had first been fired, and later allowed to quit.  Many of the Board members did not agree with Gonser’s decision to cancel the taping of the meeting based on the resultant lack of transparency to our citizens.  They also questioned his authority to have made that decision.

When confronted with the facts about the cancellation, Supervisor Gonser acknowledged that he did call CMNtv to cancel the televising of the meetings, but then attempted to justify that decision by saying he was trying to protect Ann Capela reputation.  He made no apology for making the decision nor for lying to the Press.  In the September 29th meeting, both he and Trustee Thalmann were the only two Board members to not support firing Ann Capela.

The author of this post confronted Gonser in the meeting by saying that his rationale for not televising the meeting was NOT justification for lying to the Press when he said:

“It (the special meeting) was posted late on the website Sunday afternoon. There was no time to get the meeting televised.”

Here are the key video portions of this meeting regarding this issue:

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Townhip?  Most of the citizens of Oakland Township do not accept or condone Gonser’s lying in the Press (there was at least one citizen at the January 13 meeting who appeared to accept Gonser’s explanation).

This is not the first time that there has been documentation that our Supervisor has lied to the public.  One previous example was reported on this website where Gonser stated he had sent a letter requesting an opinion from our State Attorney General “as an individual”.  The letter he referred to was written 8 days AFTER he made that public statement.

Gonser’s lack of understanding that his rationale for making the decision is not justification for lying to the Press.  This is proof that his value system is based on “the end justifies the means”.

Gonser appears to subscribe to Machiavellian and Nixonian principles.

This post is one of several that support the actions taken by our Township Board at the January 13th meeting to try to stop Gonser’s many unauthorized decisions.

Richard Michalski

 

Supervisor Gonser thwarts promised transparency in Oakland Township and makes false statement to Rochester Post

As previously posted on this website, our former Township Manager, Ann Capela, resigned after the September 29, 2014 Special Board meeting.  Neither the Special meeting nor the Budget Workshop (that had been scheduled to be televised and taped) were televised or taped (or even audio recorded).  It has been determined that Supervisor Gonser was the one who made the decision to CANCEL the video taping and televising of this very important meeting, contrary to his statement in the Press that there was “no time to get the meeting televised’ .

A Board discussion of this cancellation is on the agenda for the January 13, 2014 Board meeting.

Here are the details:

  • A 6 PM televised Oakland Township Board Budget Workshop had been planned and scheduled for September 29, 2014.
  • A day or two before the meeting, several Board members determined that they wanted to have a special meeting (that would include a closed hearing, at the request of Ann Capela) to:

” consider a periodic personnel evaluation of a public officer, employee, staff member, or individual agent”

  • The official posting of the special 5:30 PM meeting met the timing requirements for notification to the public.
  • Based on documents obtained through the FOIA process, here are the records of communications that took place the day of the meetings:
  • At 2:15 PM on September 29th, Supervisor Gonser made a 4 minute call to the CMNtv Executive Director.  (CNMtv is responsible for taping and televising our Township meetings at the direction of the Township.)
  • At 2:20 PM on September 29th, Jamie Moore, a member of the Township staff, sent an email to the CMNtv Executive Director stating, “Terry said you were looking for the agenda for tonight.” She attached the link to the agenda for the 5:30 meeting.
  • At 2:31 PM the Executive Director responded to Jamie’s email and acknowledged receipt of the email.
  • At 2:59 PM Supervisor Gonser made a 2 minute call to the CMNtv Executive Director.

The two meetings scheduled for that day were neither taped or televised, even though the Budget Workshop had previously been scheduled for being taped and televised.

As reported in the minutes of the two meetings, Ann Capela’s contract had been terminated during the open portion of the Special meeting, but during the ‘Old Business’ portion of the Budget Workshop meeting, her ‘termination’ was revised to accept her ‘resignation’.

Supervisor Gonser and Trustee Thalmann were the only two Board members who voted against Ann Capela’s termination.  The later vote to accept her resignation was unanimously approved.

In the October 9, 2014 Rochester Post, Supervisor Gonser is quoted as saying,

“It (the special meeting) was posted late on the website Sunday afternoon.  There was no time to get the meeting televised.”

At the October 14, 2104 BOT meeting, Treasurer Langlois, stated that Gonser’s statement was inaccurate. She said:

“So, in fact, not having a video tape of the meeting was not due to a lack of time, but apparently due to an earlier administrative decision.”

At the November 17, 2014 BOT meeting, she went on to say:

“We (the Board) discovered, after the fact, that a decision was made to cancel the video taping of the meeting.”

Here is the video of Treasurer Langlois’ comments:

Why is this  important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  The Township is suppose to be managed by our hired Township Manager (under the leadership of our Board).  Other than the election of our officials, there is probably no more important decision that affects our Township.  Yet, Supervisor Gonser, who ran on improving ‘transparency’ in our Township made the decision to not televise or record this very important meeting.

Supervisor Gonser has claimed the decision to televise meetings is consistent with his campaign promise to improve transparency.  However, his unilateral decision to cancel the televising of  this very significant meeting, and then stating in the Press that “there was not time to get the meeting televised” is another clear example of his character and real feelings about transparency.

His decision to not record or televise this meeting reminds me of the statement he made in a previous meeting where he said “Process is everything”.  This is yet another example of Gonser’s ‘selective’ use of processes aimed at accomplishing his own hidden agendas.

So much for transparency and ethics under our current Supervisor!

A person's actions tell you everthing you need to know

Richard Michalski

Parks Commission action may have prevented Township Board from violating Michigan’s Elliott-Larson Civil Rights Act

As reported recently, the second lawsuit against Oakland Township over the Blossom Ridge Development was filed on December 11, 2014.  One of the claims made in the filing is that:

“The Township’s disregard of and seeming inability to comprehend its FHA obligations is systematic and pervasive”

The above claim is based  a Board decision at the December 10, 2013 Board meeting to have the Parks Commission ‘refrain’ from making an offer to a potential caretaker for the Lost Lake Park.  This individual was the choice of the Parks and Recreation Commission.  The Board’s concern was the potential liability of extending this job to the recommended person since the family had young children.    

Fortunately, the Parks Commission had performed their ‘due diligence’ in getting input from the Township’s Insurance company as well as the Park Commission’s Attorney, and proceeded with their selection.  Had the Park’s Commission rejected the selected caretaker based on the Township Board’s concern, the Township could have been charged with violating the Elliot Larson Act for using familial status as a reason for not hiring the caretaker.

Here is the information included in the Moceri/DM investment LLC and Joan Buser vs. Charter Township of Oakland filing – 12/11/14:

  1. The Township’s disregard of and seeming inability to comprehend its FHA obligations is systematic and pervasive as evidenced by the following illustration.
  1. The Township owns a park with a house on a lake.
  1. For years the Township leased the house to a caretaker who lived in the house and maintained the house and park.
  1. In 2013 the Township Parks and Recreation Department hired a new caretaker and as usual agreed to the caretaker’s occupancy of the house.
  1. On December 10, 2013, twenty minutes after voting to deny a reasonable accommodation for the disabled prospective residents of Blossom Ridge, Board of Trustees Member and Township Treasurer Jeanne Langlois moved to set aside the Parks Commission’s hiring of the caretaker because the caretaker has a family including two young children, starting the following exchange:

Treasurer Langlois:   Move that the Board make a review of that potential situation [a lease of Twp property to a Family with Minor Children]…and make a motion to authorize the Township Supervisor to formally request that the Parks and Recreation Commission refrain from entering into a caretaker contract until the liability issues can be reviewed by the Township insurance agent and Township legal counsel.

Trustee Bailey:  Is this the first that you’re aware of that we have done such a thing [lease to a family with minor children]?

Treasurer Langlois:  Yes, I understand there was a caretaker in the past, there were no minor children that I know of and then the initial approval recently was for a new caretaker that did not involve a family with minor children and when that fell through this apparently prompted the Parks [commission] to look at family with 2 very small children.

Trustee Bailey:  How small are they?

Treasurer Langlois:  Six and two.

  1. The Langlois motion was approved unanimously.
  1. No Board Member mentioned the protection of families with children against housing discrimination under Federal and Michigan law. No one ventured a thought as what this action’s impact on the caretaker and his family. The caretaker would be deprived of both housing and employment. The Board wondered whether their insurance rates might be affected. They did not consider that children play in the park everyday. The Board thoughtlessly assumed that landlords of properties fronting Michigan’s 11,000 inland lakes and thousands of miles of Great Lakes shoreline are exempt from Federal and Michigan laws prohibiting discrimination against families with children.
  1. The foregoing episode illustrates the current Township Board’ impenetrable indifference to its fair housing obligations. To its credit the Parks Commission ignored the Board.

Here is a copy of the Michigan Elliott-Larson Civil RIghts Act.

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  Only the court will determine if the example shown above will have an impact on the final decision regarding Blossom Ridge.  However, another conclusion can be made from this example.

Ever since early 2013, the Township Board and the Parks and Recreation Commission have had separate law firms providing legal guidance.  The decision by the Parks Commission to retain their own counsel was based the Board’s confrontational actions toward the Parks Commission (some of which are involved in legal actions BETWEEN the two elected bodies).

Examples of the Board’s confrontational actions against the Parks and Recreation Commission can be seen by scrolling through the articles in the following link (this article is the first one shown, so please scroll through the entire list):

“Board vs. Parks”

Trustee Thalmann consistently points out, during her “Trustee Comments” at Board meeting, the legal expense that the Parks Commission has incurred for the month.  The contract with the Board’s legal team technically includes legal support for the Parks and Recreation Commission. She claims that the Park’s legal expenses are not necessary, since they would be covered by the contract with the Board’s legal team. It should be pointed out the the Board’s legal team did not advise the Board against making their December 10, 2013 motion.

It appears that the Parks Commission’s legal counsel, and the decision by the Parks Commission to proceed with extending the offer to the family with children, may have prevented the Township from a lawsuit involving a Elliott-Larson civil rights violation.

Oakland Township’s legal expense has increased dramatically since the new Board has come into office.  The legal fees incurred by the Parks Commission are totally eclipsed by the legal fees incurred as a result of lawsuits our Township is involved in since the new Board took office.

The Township should be grateful for the actions taken by the Parks and Recreation Commission based on the legal advice from their separate legal counsel.

Richard Michalski

 

 

 

Supervisor Gonser thinks Oakland Township’s form of government is “bizarre” and unworkable

On November 11, 2014 the Oakland Press posted an article that reported on the current employment status of Oakland Township’s former manager, Ann Capela.  As reported previously, she agreed to terminate her employment as Oakland Township’s manager on September 29, 2014.  In the Oakland Press article, Supervisor Gonser indicated that he agreed with the former manager’s assessment that the political structure in Oakland Township is ‘unworkable’.  Gonser went on to say that it is a ‘bizarre’ form of government.  

At the November 11, 2014 Oakland Township Board meeting, the Board voted to authorize a consulting firm to initiate a Township Manager search to replace Ann Capela.  The motion was approved in a 6 to 1 vote.  Supervisor Gonser was the sole dissenting vote.

Here are some of the highlights of the Oakland Press article:

  • Ann Capela, our former manager, was hired by the city of Bethel, Alaska.
  • Regarding her September 29th agreement to terminate her contract as Oakland Township Manager, Capela stated:

“(Oakland Township has) a challenging political structure that soon became unworkable.”

  • The article states that Terry Gonser, the current Township Supervisor, agreed with her assessment.
  • He went on to say:

“We have a bizarre, unique form of government.”

  • Commenting on Ann Capela’s new assignment, he stated:

“She won’t be subjected to so much micromanagement.”

“She won’t be pulled in different directions.”

  • Trustee Thalmann, who voted to retain Capela, also supported the Supervisor’s opinion regarding the Township’s form of governance.

Here is a link to the Oakland Press article:

Former Manager: Oakland Townships structure ‘unworkable’

 Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  Oakland Township has had the current structure since the early 1990’s.  There were no issues raised under the previous three Supervisors (Buser-Hoffman-Fogler) with the current form of government.

Supervisor Gonser, as well as Trustee Thalmann, continue to want to change the structure to one with a “Strong Supervisor”.  There have been several previous articles posted on this website regarding Gonser’s attempt to change the Township structure.  Here are those articles:

Supervisor Gonser and Trustee Thalmann attempt (once again) to have a “Strong Supervisor” structure in Oakland Township

 Trustee’s reject Supervisor Gonser’s desire to become a ‘Stong Supervisor’

 Can we Trust Supervisor Gonser with more authority

Gonser and Thalmann have recently been in the ‘minority position’ on a number of Board decisions.  This could be a contributing reason for their desire to have Gonser become a ‘Strong Supervisor’.  He would then be able to make Township operational decisions without the consent of the entire Board.

The current political structure allows a trained professional Manager or Superintendent to manage the Township with direction from the Board. Having the operational decisions made by an untrained political elected official would not only dilute the authority of the Board, but would result in chaos and confusion in our Township after each Board election.  It would highly politicize the day to day operation of our Township.

Supervisor Gonser has indicated that he spends 50 hours per week on Township business.  His position is suppose to be a part time position.  His presence at the Township Hall most likely caused the micromanagement that Capela complained about. The Treasurer and Clerk probably had to spend additional time at the Township Hall making sure Gonser did not give direction on items impacting their departments – probably contributing to Capela being pulled in different directions.

Fortunately, the current Board has consistently objected to changing the political structure of our Township.  I hope that continues!  Their decision to approve the search for a replacement for Ann Capela is a good start.

Richard Michalski

 

Supervisor Gonser and Trustee Thalmann attempt (once again) to have a “Strong Supervisor” structure in Oakland Township

The October 9, 2014 Rochester Post had an article about the termination of the former Oakland Township manager’s contract.  In that article, Supervisor Gonser made comments that indicate he wanted to reconsider Oakland Township’s governance structure. Last year, he lobbied for having a full time “strong supervisor” structure vs. the current system (a part time supervisor and a full time professional manager).  

At the October 14th Board meeting, Trustee Thalmann indicated she wanted to revisit the “strong supervisor” proposal.  She made this comment after Trustee Bailey made a motion to have our current assistant manager, Jamie Moore, temporarily fill that position until a new manager was selected.  Gonser and Thalmann’s proposal was met with thoughtful objections from other Board members and citizens.  After considerable debate, the Board approved the temporary position for Jamie Moore, and authorized a search for a full time manager.

In the October 9th Rochester Post article, Supervisor Gonser is quoted as saying:

“The Township Board will have to discuss hiring –or not hiring– a new Township manager”

In the article, he went on to argue that Oakland Township is in the minority of Townships since we have an elected part time Supervisor and a full time manager or superintendent.

At the October 14th Board meeting, Trustee Bailey made a motion to have the current Township assistant manager fill the manager position until a permanent full time manager is selected.  He specifically included the designated statutory responsibilities “A through O” as part of her responsibilities.  He stated that he felt it was inappropriate for the Supervisor to assume those responsibilities.

Trustee Thalmann challenged Bailey’s comment and indicated that she wanted the Board to revisit the “strong Supervisor” structure.  She said:

“The Supervisor’s job is designed for all but 42 of the 1200-and-something charter townships in the state.  I still hold the opinion that a ‘strong supervisor’ and a deputy perhaps is a better way to go.”

Trustee Bailey and Treasurer Langlois expressed strong objection to revisiting this issue.  Bailey commented:

“We certainly debated that ‘ad infinitum’ and we concluded we do want to retain a township manager.”

Langlois commented:

“I like the idea of having a township manager that reports to the board.”

Several citizens expressed their objection to Thalmann’s proposal.  Reg Brown challenged Gonser and Thalmann’s comparison to other communities by saying:

“The statement that a small number of the 1240 townships do this (a part time Supervisor and a full time professional manager rather than a full time strong Supervisor) is a faulty comparison.  A great number of those townships have 200 to 300 people in them, so what does that have to do with what Oakland Township would do?”

Frank Ferriolo strongly objected to the proposal by stating:

“We spent 3 months last year going over, nitpicking if you will, this whole process of ‘strong supervisor’ vs. township manager having the “A through O” responsibilities.  We concluded our best interest is that the current form that we have is a good form.

The other thing I found a little bit curious is that both Mr. Gonser and trustee Thalmann were the champions of a ‘strong supervisor’ without a township manager.  Yet they were the only two that voted to keep the township manager (Capela) in the vote.

There would be great difficulty dismissing a ‘rogue’ supervisor and deputy.”

Gonser has previously stated that he spends over 50 hours per week in the Township Office, yet the Supervisor position is a part time position.

The Board ultimately voted on Bailey’s motion and approved it in a 6 to 1 vote.  Thalmann was the only negative vote.

There was also an issue raised whether Gonser should be the one offering the temporary position to the assistant manager.  After much discussion, the Board agreed to have Gonser extend the offer with the express statement that “the Board was making the offer”, not Gonser.

The Board voted on having Gonser extend the offer.  It passed in a 6 to 1 vote.  Thalmann was once again the exception.

Here is a video of the October 14th proceedings:

We should have seen this coming with Gonser’s post on Linkedin.  The responsibilities he states exceeds his statutory responsibilities.  The ENTIRE Board has those responsibilities and they delegated those to the Township Superintendant/ Manager – Jim Creech at that time.

Here is Gonser’s post to Linkedin:

Supervisor – Charter Township of Oakland, Oakland County, MI – (November 2012 to present)

Chief elected officer of the Township. Responsible for budgets, personnel, and all aspects of township government and Chairman of the Board of Trustees. Also a member of the Board of Directors of the tri-municipality Older Persons Commission.

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  The majority of the Board members are beginning to recognize and exercise their statutory responsibilities.  They are no longer acting as the formal approvers of Gonser’s opinions and agendas.  The Board, collectively, is more important than the supervisor.  For their recent actions and votes, the citizens should be grateful.

The fact that Gonser admitted spending 50 hours per week, on what should be a part time position, is evidence that he is doing more than what he is authorized to do.  In essence, he is managing the Township as a “Strong Supervisor”.  Could that be why both he and Thalmann did not support terminating our former manager’s contract? Was he doing her work, and she was not opposed to him doing it?

Time will tell if the Board is able to ‘restrain’ the Supervisor from using his position in inappropriate manners.  It looks like the majority of the Board is beginning to recognize the issue and hopefully will ensure their authority is not usurped by Gonser. The Board’s motion that explicitly states the Board is extending the temporary offer to the assistant manager clearly is intended to let the temporary manager know that she reports to the entire Board – not just the Supervisor.

Here are some related articles previously posted on this website:

Former article on “strong supervisor’ structure

Can we trust Supervisor Gonser with more authority

Richard Michalski

Treasurer Langlois challenges Supervisor Gonser’s Rochester Post statement

As reported previously, former Township Manager Capela’s employment was terminated on September 29, 2014. Efforts have been made to learn more about the discussions that took place at the meeting.  However,  there is no video or audio recording of the meeting proceedings.  

In an October 9, 2014 Rochester Post article, Supervisor Gonser stated:

“There was no time to get the meeting televised.” 

At the October 14, 2014 BOT meeting, Treasurer Langlois corrected Gonser’s statement, and pointed out that there apparently was an administrative decision made to not record or televise the special meeting as well as the Budget Workshop that had been scheduled for that date. Previous Budget workshops had been recorded and televised.

A few days after the September 29th meeting, the author of this post called the Township Office to determine if an audio recording had been made of the meeting.  They informed me that there was no audio recording of the meeting.  In the past, audio recordings were made of a meeting if it was known that it would not be video recorded.

Here is the video of Treasurer Langlois’ correction of Gonser’s statement:

Here are the copies of the minutes of the September 29th meetings (approved on October 14th):

September 29, 2014 Special meeting minutes

Sept 29th Budget workshop meeting minutes

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  Supervisor Gonser ran on a platform of transparency.  Treasurer Langlois has pointed out that the administration (either Capela or Gonser) apparently made a decision to not televise the meeting proceedings.  We as citizens will never know what really happened at the meeting, since there is no audio or video recording of that very important meeting.  Does that sound like transparency to you?

Richard Michalski

BREAKING NEWS: TOWNSHIP MANAGER CAPELA’S CONTRACT TERMINATED

Robert Yager, the publisher of the Oakland Township Sentinel, published an article indicating that the Oakland Township Board terminated  manager Ann Capela’s contract on September 29, 2014. The vote was 5 to 2.  Supervisor Gonser and Trustee Thalmann were the only two that supported keeping Capela.

 A copy of Robert’s article is posted here:  

Oakland Township Sentinel 9-30-2014

I would encourage any readers or ‘followers’ of this site to send Robert an email at:

yagerra@comcast.net

to subscribe to his website.  He will send emails to you with each update.  The content shown on his site is very informative.  Here is a link to his website:

Oakland Township Sentinel

Thank you Robert for bringing this to our attention!

Here is a link to an Oakland Press article:

Oakland Press Article

Richard Michalski

 

Trustees Thalmann and Giannangeli fail to comprehend Trustee Buxar’s comments

At the September 9, 2014 Board meeting, Trustee Buxar commented on how there have been comments made by Board members at other Township meetings implying that Board conversations occurred when those conversations had not occurred.  She went on to say that conversations may have occurred between other Board members, but did not include her.  She asked that these statements be stopped in the future.  

Trustee Thalmann responded in a manner that had nothing to do with the issue that Trustee Buxar brought up.  In fact, she took the opportunity to attempt to ‘pat herself on the back’.  Although not captured on video (I was present at the meeting), the expressions on Trustee Giannangeli’s face when Buxar was making her comments were ones of bewilderment.  

The statement that Buxar made was in response to Trustee Giannangeli’s comments at the September 2 Planning Commission meeting.  As reported previously, Trustee Giannangeli made comments regarding the Board’s request for an RFP for the Planning Consulting services BEFORE any such discussion occurred with the entire Board in an open session.

Here is a video of Trustee Buxar’s comments, and Trustee Thalmann’s response:

Here is a link to the previous post regarding Trustee Giannangeli’s inappropriate comments:

Another Open Meeting violation by Oakland Township Board or Gonser’s ‘puppet’ speaking?

 

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  This is yet another example of how several members of the Board fail to recognize their mistakes, and learn from them.  The self rationalization of their actions apparently give them a sense of infallibility that this Township can ill afford.

Richard Michalski

Trustee Thalmann makes false statement about Township Planning Consultant

At the September 9, 2014 Board meeting, there was an agenda item to initiate a Request for Proposal to possibly replace the current Township Planning Consultant.  Trustee Thalmann made a number of false statements that were refuted by four fellow Board members.  Fortunately, the Board rejected the proposal in a 5 to 2 vote.  Supervisor Gonser and Trustee Thalmann were the two minority votes.

There have been other posts on this website dealing with the Request for Proposal to replace the Township Planning Consultant firm.  This topic was finally discussed at the September 9th Board meeting.  A motion was made by Trustee Thalmann to request an RFP.  It did not receive a ‘second’, so Supervisor Gonser seconded the motion himself.

During the discussion, Trustee Thalmann made a number of accusations and statements about our current planning consultant.  Trustees Bailey, Buxar, Treasurer Langlois and Clerk Reilly all refuted the accuracy of Thalmann’s statements.  Thalmann and Gonser appeared to want to have a ‘local’ supplier for that service, even though the service provided by the current consulting company has been outstanding for many years.

Here is a video of the discussion at the meeting.  Please watch the Trustee’s responses to Thalmann’s accusations:

Contrary to Gonser’s comments, the Township Planning Consultant, Larry Nix, has contracts with four, not two communities.  The four communities are Harbor Springs, Elk Rapids, Frankenmuth and Oakland Township.  All of these communities are outstanding planned communities.  He is well respected throughout the state.

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  The current planning consultant has a very clear understanding and love for our Township.  He has been the consultant for years, and desires to continue supporting our Township.

As reported earlier on this website, Supervisor Gonser wants to change the direction of the Township. He plans to influence the direction the Township by appointing new members to the Planning Commission, and terminate the relationship with the Planning Consulting firm that has been instrumental in creating the beautiful Township we live in.

Gonser and Thalmann clearly want to dramatically change our Township.  Do you believe our Township needs to change dramatically?  If so, you probably support Gonser and Thalmann.  If you love what we have in our Township, you must stand together and fight to prevent Gonser and Thalmann from destroying our Township.

Richard Michalski

Township Board approves potentially precedent setting (and costly) policy on Road maintenance

The Township Board approved spending $40,000 of funds from the ‘general fund’ to improve the gravel road portion of Silverbell Road at the September 9, 2014 Board meeting.  The Board approved spending this money by a 4 to 3 margin.  

Treasurer Langlois expressed concerns regarding:

  • the lack of having a comprehensive plan for our Township Road improvements that would ensure we were addressing the most critical roads,
  • the use of ‘general funds’ for this project, and
  • the precedent setting action of the Township assuming responsibility for the safety of the roads.  The Oakland County Road Commission has that responsibility.

This decision may cost the Township ‘dearly’ in the future.

At the September 9, 2014 Oakland Township Board meeting, Supervisor Gonser stated that the Road Commission had contracted for enough limestone to improve about one additional mile of gravel roads in Oakland Township. This limestone was in addition to the improvements that occurred on Dutton Road this year.

Road improvements in our Township (above and beyond what is required for safety) have historically been covered by what is called tri-party funds.  The dollars for these improvements come from three sources, 1/3 from the Road Commission, 1/3 from the County and 1/3 from Oakland Township (hence the name tri-party fund).   In other words, our dollars are ‘leveraged’.  The cost for the Dutton Road improvements was also shared between Oakland Township and Rochester Hills.  That improvement was totally covered by tri-party funds from both communities.

The cost for the additional mile of limestone could not be totally covered by the remaining 2014 Oakland Township tri-party funds.  It would require an additional $40,000 from Oakland Township’s ‘General Fund’.  Supervisor Gonser wanted to authorize the Road Commission to purchase and use the limestone on Silverbell road in response to safety concerns raised by citizens.

Treasurer Langlois indicated she was not in favor of using Township ‘General Funds’ to improve road safety when road safety was the responsibility of the Road Commission.  She also pointed out that the Township’s road improvement planning has deteriorated since we lost our previous Township manager.  Treasurer Langlois, Trustees Buxar and Bailey all expressed disappointment that a more comprehensive plan had not been developed that would ensure the most critical roads in the Township were being addressed.

The Township Board voted on the motion to purchase the limestone, and it passed with Gonser, Reilly, Thalmann and Giannangeli supporting the motion.  Langlois, Buxar and Bailey being the dissenting minority.

Here is a video of Treasurer Langlois’ concerns with this motion:

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  The use of general funds for road improvements to eliminate safety concerns could be a precedent setting action.  The Road Commission may now look to the Township to pay for future road improvements that they consider safety related. Until now, the Road Commission has been responsible for safety.  The Board’s decision may cloud that responsibility going forward. If the Township becomes responsible for road safety, our taxes will certainly increase to cover those costs.

The politically expeditious decision by Supervisor Gonser, Clerk Reilly and Trustees Thalmann and Giannangeli may cost the Township dearly in the future!

Richard Michalski