February 15 Village of Bear Lake Meeting. Notes and Audio

On behalf of residents and property owners unable to attend in person Bear Lake News requested access via speakerphone as the Village no longer records its meetings. A call in number was provided at 12.59pm Wednesday February 15, 2017.

The following amalgamation of requested information to be addressed at the Budget Hearing was sent by return email at 1.02pm

Good morning,

Respectfully, here are the combined questions submitted to us which we are asking be addressed at this evening’s FY2017-18 Budget Hearing.
1. If deficits are noted at the close of the current FY in any Fund, and it becomes necessary to use reserve savings to make up the difference – has that been carried over to the FY17-18 spreadsheets
General Fund:
1. Has the Council discussed the increasing % of Property Tax income that now goes to cover wages and salaries? $56k in income v $76,700 in expenditures. Can you list the current combined payment to the Village President that comes from all sources.
2. How many part time employees does the Village currently have, contractual or employee, at what rate of pay and what duties do they perform. Is there now a requirement for 2 individuals to be present when snow plowing Village streets.
3. A line item of $1000 has been created for ‘Election’ – is the Village anticipating a need to reimburse the Township for election services this year.
4. Public Utilities – at $17,000 for which services and locations is this anticipated.
5. $5800 is budgeted. Actual expenditures on tree damage this current year is over $12,000, with trees also being listed in both Minor and Major Funds. When tree invoices are paid is it noted where the location is to comply with State regulation.
Major and Minor Streets
1. With action pending at the State level to eliminate State Income tax does the Village have any reserve funds or plan to express it’s opposition to such action.
Park
1. if the proposal is to eliminate several prime Park lots – what steps have been considered to explain the increase in rental income (to $38k when actual rent income  is listed at $33,360)
2. $10k is listed as Salaries and Wages – can you elaborate please which employees this relates to and where the corresponding Park line item for Withholding appears (actual expenditure is currently $14,565) During summer 2016 the Village employed at least 2 additional part time employees – does this budget anticipate requiring the same number in 2017, at what rate of pay, for how many hours, and are they classed as contractual or an employee.
3. Public utilities are listed at $12k – actual expenditures in FY16-17 is overdrawn by $2,810 to $10,360. What steps are being taken to do an energy audit in the Park to bring those costs down.
Water
1. An increase in water bill revenue is listed at $100k ( $70k in FY16-17). The discussion and approval of an increase in water rates has not taken place yet, what is the anticipated monthly/quarterly increase.
2. Salaries and Wages have increased from $2,500 to $10,000 – for which employees is this increase necessary
3. Sewer Project – $3,500 – at which public meeting was the need to allocate this amount convened and for what purpose
4. Professional Services at $14k – current FY16-17 Budget is for $20k with actual expenditures at $22,806. How is the reduction in expenditures anticipated when the current agreement with Mead Hunt is as follows:

Weekly pricing is on a Time and Materials (T&M) basis at $50.00 hour with a minimum of 4 hours plus Water Sample Analysis as required by the MDEQ. All water samples analyzed will be at the Villages expense with invoices billed on a T&M basis. Call-outs and Extra Time are at $65/hour with authorization only by the designated representative of the Village of Bear Lake.

Weekly site visit, well house/wellhead inspection, chlorine application and distribution system residuals monitoring, hands-on Village employee training and water sample collection and delivery to the lab, minimum of $200.00 per visit.

Will the Village have a fully certified water system operator on staff this year?

5. Bond payment has increased from $10k to $25k – Bond Interest increased from $2,200 to $14k.
Please explain.
On behalf of residents we appreciate the work you do and trust you agree that transparency and fiscal responsibility is essential to establish trust.
Kind regards,
Bear Lake News
2 independent recordings were made for publication.

2 thoughts on “February 15 Village of Bear Lake Meeting. Notes and Audio

  1. The questions are all certainly valid that require explanations. One other important question unrelated to the budget is that in reading the Michigan Elected Officials law I understand it to be illegal for an elected officials child to be employed by the governing body that the parent works for.

    1. The Village of Bear Lake has, to our knowledge, no official Ethics Ordinance.
      The Michigan Municipal League offers the following case studies:
      Ethics Ordinance

      i.e City of Southgate Code of Ordinances:
      “(10) Nepotism. No City official or employee shall cause the employment or any favorable employment action of an immediate family member. No City official or employee shall hold an appointed office or employment in which that person would work under the immediate supervision of an immediate family member. If a violation of this subsection”

      and
      VILLAGE OF BIRCH RUN ORDINANCE NO. 99-2 A ORDINANCE TO ESTABLISH DEFINITIONS OF AND PROCEDURES FOR CONFLICTS OF INTEREST, NEPOTISM AND THE PROPER CONDUCT OF PUBLIC OFFICIALS AND EMPLOYEES OF THE VILLAGE OF BIRCH RUN Adoption Date: March 22, 1999 Effective Date: April 1, 1999 Amendment First Reading: October 25, 2004 Amendment Second Reading: November 15, 2004 Amendment Adoption: November 15, 2004 Effective Date: November 25, 2004

      The General Law Village Handbook cautions on the appearance of conflict of interest suggesting the official should not be part of any employment discussion and abstain from any formal vote.
      Section 2: Roles and Responsibilities
      Chapter 8: Ethics
      Conclusion
      Local elected officials should be mindful of the relevant laws governing ethical issues. Act 196 and Act 317 provide a good starting point for local elected officials to assure themselves that they are acting appropriately.

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