Shared building services discussed at meeting

FLINT TWP. — To share or not to share building department services with Mundy Township and Swartz Creek is a question the Flint Township Board took a closer look at during a special workshop meeting on Monday.

The idea is a result of a six-month feasibility study all three municipalities commissioned last year to search for potential ways to cut cost in the face of a looming budget deficit.

Conducted by Mark Nottley of Ann Arbor-based Municipal Consulting Services, the study results were presented last fall. Nottley’s analysis looked at shared service possibilities in the police, fire, building and assessing departments.

Nottley attended Monday nights meeting to recap the study’s findings and to answer questions.

The public meeting was attended by all Flint Township board members who were joined by Marty Johnson, Mundy Township’s building official and Dan Eggleston of IT Right, the township’s new technology support provider.

Mundy Township has drawn up a proposed contract for sharing services and presented it to both Flint Township and Swartz Creek for consideration.

Township Supervisor Karyn Miller said that Swartz Creek, which does not have a building department, is exploring the process of forging an agreement with Mundy Twp., starting with an upgrade to BS&A software to better integrate information.

Nottley’s study recommended Mundy Township’s building department as the best option to head up shared services because it was the most technologically advanced and has a full-time building official (Johnson) already in place.

In his presentation, Nottley pointed out advantages and disadvantages to Flint Township’s joining forces with Mundy Township and Swartz Creek.

Besides lowering operating costs, advantages would include upgrading to more efficient integrated software, added quality controls and having a full-time building official.

But Nottley also noted a considerable jump in township building activities, adding new financial considerations since his study was done last year.

Building permits are up 49 percent, trade inspections up 38 percent, code enforcement up 55 percent and rental compliance up 159 percent, he said.

A 46 percent change over the previous year translates into about $50,000 in additional revenue and with building licenses included totals about $112,000 in net revenue over the previous year.

Nottley said options before the Flint Township board are keep its current system, contract some services to Mundy Twp., or contracting with Mundy for quality assurance and BS& A training.

Johnson pointed out that the presented contract is flexible enough to allow the township to “pick and choose” which services it might want to contract for with Mundy Township.

Board members questioned Johnson about his qualifications to run a shared service and also the amount of daily time he would devote to Flint Township.

Genesee County Commissioner Ted Henry, who works for the township as a building inspector, spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting. He asked about staffing decisions, hours of operations after hours an on weekends and differing 67th district court jurisdiction in Flushing vs. Grand Blanc.

Nottley said that shared services is hot topic statewide and something Gov. Rick Snyder supports.

Miller said cost-saving options including shared services are being explored because the township has lost $3 million in revenue since 2008 due to declining property values and is now facing a $1.1 million deficit.

“It is up to this board to decide how we want to move forward,’’ she said. “It is our duty as a board to take the money we have and make the most of it.”

After the meeting Miller, said there no timeline on when or if the board will make a decision.

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