Flint Twp. agrees to join exploration of shared services

FLINT TWP. — Flint Township is now officially on board to explore the idea of shared services with Swartz Creek and Mundy Township.

Two board trustees wanted more time to study the issue before making a spending commitment but others felt that there is no time to spare.

After some deliberations, the board voted 5-2 at its Monday night meeting in favor of a resolution to seek a grant from the Michigan Municipal League Foundation to help pay for a feasibility study. Terms of the Professional Service Agreement set a ceiling not to exceed $25,000 for technical services including a business case analysis and implementation planning for shared services.

Township Supervisor Karyn Miller stressed that the vote does not obligate the township to pursue shared services beyond the findings of the feasibility study. The urgency is to try to get a share of a dwindling MMLF grant money that would reduce costs to the township.

She also painted a sobering picture of township revenue shortfalls based on five-year projections.

“We are looking at having to cut a large sum of money out of the budget next year,’’ Miller said.

“We can’t continue to do what we are doing; we want to offer high quality services and we don’t have the funds to do that.”

Miller also said that the Swartz Creek and Mundy Township boards had already passed similar resolutions.

Trustee Barbara Vert who voted against the resolution, said it was too much too soon.

“I want to state for the record that it is not that I am against this but I think it should be looked into,’’ she said. “I think that the lack of information that I have gotten in such a short period of time is not fair to me .. and I still am worried about spending $25,000.

“While I think it is a good idea to do into this, I don’t understand the rush. Why are we hurrying this through?”

Trustee Belenda Parker, who also voted no, voiced concerns about making a $25,000 commitment of taxpayers money with no guarantee of a return on investment.

“I agree to look into shared services is something that should be done however I don’t support the approach that is being taken,” Parker said.

“I feel that once this resolution is submitted we are committing ourselves. There are a lot of unanswered questions. We don’t know the exact cost.”

Other unknowns include the availability of grant money, additional expenditures after the feasibility study is done and if shared services would actually save money, she said.

Parker said that committing to spend up to $25,000 is “a big jump” and called for sitting down again with the other municipalities for further discussion before moving forward.

The three municipalities met jointly on July 20 to hear a presentation about sharing services from the Plante Moran accounting firm.

Vert said there was no discussion at that meeting.

“We had to write down questions,” she said. “We couldn’t even speak. This board should be talking (more) before we decide and that has not happened.’’

Trustee Frank Kasle spoke in favor of board acting quickly.

“I think we have to pass this now because there are some deadlines to get certain things passed by,’’ he said. Not only does it concern the possibility of getting the study grant but also the possibility of getting additional state or federal funds allocated for municipalities working on shared services, he said.

Miller added that the controller said the township received a small portion of state shared revenue in 2010 and could be eligible for more by taking this step toward shared services.

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