SPRINGFIELD TOWNSHIP, Michigan – Springfield Township officials have some thinking to do when it comes to what they’re going to do about the 2010 Oakland County Sheriff’s Department service contract, and whether or not they’re in favor of supporting the agency’s desire to relocate their substation from its current location on Big Lake Road to the Springfield Township Fire Department facility on Rattalee Lake Road.
Both matters were discussed during the Nov. 12 Board of Trustees meeting.
Before painstakingly going through the 2010 proposed budget, Township Supervisor Mike Trout asked OCSD Undersheriff Mike McCabe, OCSD Business Manager Dale Cunningham and OCSD Springfield Township substation Sgt. Tim Willis to discuss the agency’s desire to move.
Currently, the township’s substation is nestled in the heart of the township, north of Dixie Highway on Big Lake Road, specifically at the Columbiere Center near Shepherd’s Hollow Golf Club. The Columbiere Center allows the Springfield substation to reside there at no cost.
Columbiere Center also houses Insight Recovery Center, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility, as well as a Jesuit infirmary for sick and retired priests. Additionally, the 420-acre facility offers a variety of services, including meeting and retreat facilities, and continues to offer its grounds for schools to hold band camps.
“The current situation – the location of the substation tends to create some problems for us in terms of operationally being your police department,” McCabe said during Thursday’s meeting. He said the substation’s location make it difficult for residents, not only because of its secluded location, but also because it shares the building with a drug and rehabilitation facility.
“It’s not the greatest location because we’re co-located there with the Insight program,” McCabe said. “Lots of residents there are trying to turn their lives around, but they’re often loitering outside, smoking cigarettes and some have even broken into cars in the parking lot. It’s difficult to present a professional image and serve the residents.”
McCabe said relocating to the Springfield Township Fire Department on Rattalee Lake Road would be a win-win for everyone – residents and OCSD personnel alike. “You’d have high visibility there,” McCabe said. “People are going to see the sign and be drawn to it.”
McCabe said residents would enjoy the easily accessible facility where they could request reports or speak with OCSD staff members, and that sharing a building with the STFD would allow the two entities to better do their jobs.
While the fire station was built with the intent of one day housing the Springfield Township OCSD substation, relocating it to the STFD facility could potentially comes with a proposed price tag exceeding $50,000, according to Township Treasurer Jamie Dubre.
McCabe told officials if the township provided the materials, OCSD could provide free inmate labor to offset construction costs. “We’ve already done this in a number of locations,” McCabe said. “The individuals we would provide are non-violent misdemeanor people.”
Most of the inmates they would provide, according to McCabe are in for drunk driving or similar offenses. “We have licensed contractors, licensed plumbers who unfortunately wind up at our facility,” he said. “But it’s great because they can get outside of the facility, we have a deputy who supervises, and they can provide all the free labor to make this happen.”
“I have some real reservations even though I absolutely recognize that you’re not in an ideal situation, and I’m sorry for that,” Township Clerk Laura Moreau told OCSD officials. “I wish we had enough fund balance in our police fund or in our general fund so that we could do something immediately.”
Moreau urged the board to be sensible. “I don’t think it would be appropriate for us at this time to go ahead and do that knowing that we’re going to have to go to our residents in a few short years and say, ‘Our police fund is bankrupt – we need to pass another millage. By the way, they already went ahead and expanded the facility when we had one available to us – I know it’s not ideal, but it was there and it was at no cost to the residents,” she said. “It just doesn’t seem like a prudent decision to me to go ahead and support that decision right now.”
Despite dwindling police funds, Trustee Dennis Vallad was still supportive of the idea. “I still think it’s a worthwhile project,” Vallad said. “The money is included in the budget proposal right now – it doesn’t mean we have to spend the money. The situation with donated labor – we can pursue other donations to see if we can reduce the cost of that and if it turns out that it’s still unfundable somewhere down the road next year, and we don’t do the project, it means that we have money left over and we don’t have to transfer as much from the fund reserve to do that.”
“My biggest thing is that our police funds are depleted compared to other fund balances,” said Dubre. “It’s not that I’m against the idea of relocating the office necessarily – I just want to make sure we are able to afford it.”
One way to possibly make the move happen sooner would be if Springfield Township officials were to consider changing their 2010 contract agreement with the OCSD from “fill” to “no-fill,” a change Cunningham said could save the township up to $14,000 per deputy, per year. To date, the township employs nine dedicated “fill” deputies.
Currently, Springfield Township has a fill contract with the OCSD whereby the department provides 24/7 coverage, always with two deputies per shift, three shifts per day, six days per week, and three deputies per shift, three shifts per day on the seventh day. The OCSD factors in an additional $22,000 per deputy per year in overtime pay. In 2009, the township paid $1,434,429.12 for its fill contract with the agency.
Agreeing to a no-fill contract would give the township greater flexibility by allowing Willis to schedule deputies accordingly. Should a deputy require a day off, Willis could decide whether to fill the position with a Contract Reinforcement Team member or not.
“A true no-fill contract like Independence Township has – they have enough officers so when they take a day off, they don’t necessarily have to fill it,” Willis said. “Sometimes they fill it, sometimes they don’t.” In the case where workload dictates that they require a fill in officer, Willis can pull an officer from the CRT.
The major difference in agreeing to a no-fill contract comes as the township would then be responsible for paying officer overtime. Cunningham told Springfield board members that they could reasonably expect to budget $8,000 in overtime per officer, and still manage to potentially save $14,000 per officer.
“Under the fill contract, $22,000 is automatically factored in per officer for overtime, so in the no-fill contract, even though $8,000 is budgeted per officer in overtime, it’s still a savings of about $14,000 per officer,” Cunningham explained.
Should the township decide to enter into a no-fill contract with the OCSD, Cunningham said if the new arrangement isn’t working for the township, they would have a 90-day window to revert back to the old system.
With a possible savings of more than $120,000, township officials were optimistic about potentially making the change.
“I want to get the actual figures from Mr. Cunningham and really crunch the numbers,” Dubre said. “It sounds like a good way to save the township a ton of money and it would alleviate us from having to dip into the fund reserves next year.”
With the contract coming due on Jan. 1, 2010, township officials are expected to discuss the matter in greater detail at their next meeting scheduled for Dec. 10. Trout said the notion of relocating the substation would be revisited again early next year.