November 26, 2017
I wonder if the residents and the Board of Pleasant Plains Township were informed, at the time of the last few contracts, they would be responsible for the payment of the Fire Dept Building as part of the leased fire services? Or if they were ever brought into the discussions prior to the decisions to build the VOB Fire Dept in Webber Township, knowing PP taxpayers were responsible for the payment of said Fire Department? ($3200.00 a month by the way). There certainly wasn’t anything in the contract stating PP taxpayers would have full responsibility for the building payment. I wonder if the taxpayers really wanted 1/3 of their tax funds to go towards a building vs. leasing fire services? I wonder if they had an option to vote on it if they would have agreed to it, especially the cost of the building? Sitting in a township that has nothing to do with Pleasant Plains?
If we were only supposed to be leasing services, why are we buying a building for someone else? Why are we responsible for the success or failure of said Fire Dept? Aren’t we just leasing services? When did it become Pleasant Plain’s residents’ responsibility to pay for the VOB’s decisions? They are NOT one and the same. The VOB has no right to hold PP accountable for their decisions, only themselves. They are responsible for the decision to build a building that was $$$ more than what was ever needed. It was their decision to build that building based on someone else’s funds in hopes they would always be willing to pay for it and hope nobody became smart enough to figure it out. The last 10 years PP has paid $380,000.00 towards that building. We could continue the current contract and they could charge us the same amount for the next ten years for another $380,000.00. Would the building be paid off yet? Would they build another new one or just pocket the funds into the VOB general fund?
It was VOB’s decisions and PP was not brought into those decisions in any fashion. And when PP finally gets the full understanding and wants an accounting for why this has happened, it is no wonder certain VOB Board members are becoming hurtful. If you get a free ride for years and years because nobody has the foresight to stop it, and it is taken away, you start rocking what has always been and people start becoming unhinged. We no longer live in 1972 and it is time for people to open their eyes.
Maybe it is time to take the blinders off and start asking questions and quit going with what has always been:
The very first question I have is when is the debt ever paid? When can PP residents stop being held accountable/hostage for the success of VOB? And double taxed and responsible for decisions they were never allowed to be a part of?
Ask the real reason the trees were cut down at the airport
Ask why VOB was asking PP Board members to increase the fire millage to 3 mils in the next election
Ask what VOB plans to do in the future (Class 5 city and asking for millage increases?)
Ask why VOB made a decision to build such an expensive building based on a contract that was never guaranteed?
Ask why PP was held accountable for decisions the VOB made?
Ask why VOB has not had the funds to maintain the trucks and why one of the better trucks is running without a window and handle?
Ask VOB why it costs them thousands more to operate than numerous other fire depts?
Ask VOB if they have ever borrowed funds from the Fire Fund to cover other VOB interests and had to pay it back?
Ask why we are paying the entire bill for fire coverage but only guaranteed one truck and two firefighters? For $94,000?
Ask why the taxpayers pay for the fire hydrants and then charged again $4000 a year to use said fire hydrants?
If this was such a huge deal, why wasn’t the VOB willing to look at other options with a contract other than our way or the highway?????? I guess they really were not worried about it OR they figured we had no choice. Must be why he personally contacted the School Superintendent and threatened him with legal action if he entered into an agreement with PP.
Ask why said fire coverage leased services always costs 2 mils a year, no matter what amount that fluctuates to be, and why it isn’t a set amount? How much does the fire coverage services really cost?
And when did everyone else become insignificant taxpayers?
As pointed out numerous times on Facebook, PP is ONLY leasing services. There was never a guarantee that Pleasant Plains would always lease those services. As with any entity or human being, there is always free will. PP is NOT responsible for VOB’s Fire Dept. VOB is responsible for their Fire Dept. Just as every other Township in the United States has a choice, so do we and we choose not to continue that contract because we do not trust we are getting the best bang for our buck and that PP residents’ tax monies are being handled appropriately. We have that choice. And we have the choice of not being bullied for exercising our rights and doing our fiduciary responsibilities. PP’s attorney, who represents all taxpayers for PP recommends this contract not be renewed as is. VOB has the choice to change it or enter into a different agreement which they have chosen not to. That is their choice. They also have free will. They made that decision. It is their Fire Department to do what they want with.
November 4, 2017:
Just a few musings and thoughts regarding the Fire Contract with the VOB. It has really bothered me for months and months how things have come to this. But sometimes you have to go through rough patches until it all finally makes sense. You question over and over and then it hits you when someone says one little thing to you.
Pleasant Plains Township (the customer holding all the taxpayer funds) should be treated with respect and welcomed as a client to the VOB and the services they provide. However, that has never been the way any of this has come about. When I was in Business School that was one of the very first things we were taught in Management; treat your customers like you want to be treated. If they are happy, you will have a long standing relationship.
Our Attorney was very clear this is the worst contract he has ever seen between a township and an entity providing any kind of services, and that it has no benefit to the taxpayers of PP. None, and only builds the VOB. We might as well not worry about PP taxpayers and just give the millage to VOB and let them take over PP. Basically, the current contract and proposed new contract state: go out and buy me a brand new house and two new cars. I will pay nothing for them and you will pay everything for them and you should be happy doing it.
Just a few more things to contemplate:
- 16% of fire fund revenues come from PP residents who reside within the Village of Baldwin
- 84% of fire fund revenues come from PP residents who reside outside the Village of Baldwin
- Many VOB residents have made it very clear to our Board they are sick and tired of being taxed to death by the VOB and feel they do not get what they pay for and feel their concerns are not listened to.
- 100% of Pleasant Plains taxpayers are paying for the Fire Department in the Village of Baldwin that resides in Webber Township and after “50 years” of paying millions of dollars to VOB, PP residents have -0- assets but are paying the VOB for their assets/building. Which is also building their financial future, not PP’s. Those taxpayers are paying nothing for their own community growth (except the 16%). And NO! “WE” do not already have a building and Fire Dept. The Village of Baldwin does that Pleasant Plains taxpayers are paying for. Oh, and by the way, by contract only guaranteed one truck and two men for $100,000.
- Continuing to pay rent (leasing services) for 100 years is the worse business decision ever made. Is it 100 years or 50? Ask any business person or parent raising a child. At some point you start investing in your own future and not throw away the farm. Why do you think the “powers that be” are having such a hard time with this? Its a free ride. (16% of the Township benefits, 84% does not).
- Would we be good protectors if we were to continue giving away your money that has absolutely no benefit to the township? How can this make sense to anyone?
- When do we start investing in our own future and start taking responsibility for our own welfare and growth? We certainly haven’t in the past. Has that worked? You build financial freedom by building assets and investing in your own. Not by investing in someone else’s and handing them the farm. This is pure common sense!
- These issues have nothing to do with FOIA requests, or unhappy firefighters, or not seeing financial records. That is all in the past. It has everything to do with what is best for the future and a really crappy contract offer with no benefit for PP taxpayers. None.
- And, we have been given no choices whatsoever other than continue giving them everything they want.
- If that is what you want as a taxpayer, we can do that as a Board and never ever question anything again to protect you.
- If the Village of Baldwin becomes a Class 5 City, I would be concerned about taxes and rates.
In answer to a few other statements such as the PP Board has made a lot of poor decisions such as purchasing the property on M37 and giving away the property to the Sportsman’s Club.
- The current Board did NOT make those decisions
- The current Board has a responsibility to try to turn those around and make something of them because there are no other choices
- We will never get out of the property what we paid for it. So do we let it sit and rot? Or do we start trying to turn in into a positive and develop it into an asset? Do we try to build some value into it? That is NOT another bad decision. Letting it sit there and pay on it and not doing anything with it is another bad decision. Again, anyone in business will tell you the same thing.
- As far as the Sportsman’s Club: what is done is done and at least they are bringing a lot to our community. There isn’t anything we can do about it now, but when I see my husband and a lot of our friends utilizing it at least I know something good came out of it. I can do absolutely nothing about it but I sure am proud when I see them working with the community to bring people in to our beautiful township and offering services to our children and grandchildren.
- In answer to the inquiries about the non payment of what PP allegedly owes the Village of Baldwin towards the current contract:
- In July, I personally and also the Township attorney, became aware PP had been paying for Webber portion of the Village Fire Coverage. Mr. Truxton admitted the taxpayers of PP had been paying all fire coverage costs for the Village portion of Webber Township for years. Roughly $13,000 a year. You can do the math. Additionally we found out decisions had been made previously to reimburse a Village employee for replacement of her laundry for improperly using fire department washer and dryer. Both of these were in direct violation of the millaged funds and contract.
- Neither of these were good sound decisions by VOB; nor did they protect PP taxpayer funds. Add it up and subtract from what PP owes VOB. These are only two examples of questionable decisions and why PP Board wants more visibility of how the Fire Dept was being managed.
- These may seem small to many, but start adding it all up. Does the Township want transparency and a voice? Absolutely.
The next Committee Meeting regarding the Fire Contract will be August 5, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. at the Baldwin Business Center.
We have started reviewing our Fire Contract with the Village of Baldwin.
Copy of Current Contract:
Road Brining: The Board is very aware brining has been an issue this year. We are currently working on getting bids from other vendors to see if we can reasonable get our roads brined again. We will keep you posted as we get more information. This is a priority for the Board and we absolutely understand any frustration from our property owners. This has been a hot issue this year with losing our original contracted company through the Road Commission and now our costs skyrocketing. We want you to know we are working on it.
The Board worked hard to come up with a sound financial budget for 2017/2018, although extremely restrictive, it will get us through.
Yes, those are mushrooms! Just in time for spring mushroom hunting!
We were able to get the leak cleaned up and the mushrooms picked. Well, we definitely need much further work to the furnace. It is unable to keep the office area warm and we had a hard time getting the temperature above 58 degrees this winter making it extremely cold to work in the offices.
In closing, that is our news for this week. I will keep us posted on updates and such.