Resident is deeply concerned for the immediate financial future of the Lake Orion Village Citizens in the Middle Class

I am deeply concerned for the immediate financial future of the Lake Orion Village Citizens in the Middle Class, the Hard Working Lower Income Class Citizens plus the Veterans, Retirees and Handicapped Citizens who are on a fixed income.

According to Semcog and the 2010 census 28.1% of our population is over 55 years old and 16.2% are over 65 years old.
Unless the Council begins an effort to minimize the costs of government there is a strong likelihood that the Village Class separation will widen and when it becomes too expensive our long time fixed income citizens will be forced to sell out and move away. In that process homes won’t be maintained and their value will diminish before they are sold. As it did in other larger cities slums will result as rental units also won’t be maintained and the blight will cascade into other areas of the village. This will be accelerated by any downturn in the economy, reductions in Social Security and Medicare plus job losses which is forecasted by most major respected economists to occur in 2017 or 2018 and unlike prior downturns will last for a more prolonged recovery period of 10 to 15 years. I realize this is a bit dark but there is precedent all around us.
This class stratification is unique in our vilage because most of the upper class lives on the Lake and not in the village proper.
The following facts will illustrate the reasons substantiating the current concerns you need to be aware of should you decide to continue to live in our village.
Several months ago I sent an email letter to the Village Council and Village Manager expressing concern for the governmental cost of living in our village and asking the council and the village manager to seek and put in place as many cost saving measures as they could discover and responsibly give them exposure in our local newspaper. In that email I cited the current average cost of government to live in the village which is $128.00 weekly, $550.00 monthly and $6,633.00 a month which are a direct deduction from your net take home pay. To those costs of government add in your normal cost of living costs for home, rental, car, medical, insurance and food etc.. Those of you who rent don’t get off paying those governmental cost numbers to live in the village because your landlord must factor into your rent those costs of government because they are also his costs.
To be clear I have not yet received a response of any kind from the council about my request to them to investigate and reduce our costs to live in the village. And now I think I know why there was no response so please continue to follow on with me.
The April 5th Lake Orion Review State of the Township Article by Chris Barnett cited some startling and disturbing financial comparisons to our Village Of Lake Orion.
The Per Capita { or Per Person } cost of Government for our Village of Lake Orion is $1,158.00 per person { Our Lake Orion Village population is only 2,973 } which is a much higher cost than Orion Township’s $332.00 per person { Orion Township’s population is 32,421 }, Oakland Twp’s $424.00 per person { Oakland Twp’s population is 16,779 }, Oxford Twp’s $490.00 per person { Oxford Twp’s population is 17,090 }, Independence Twp’s $535.00 per person { Independence Twp’s population is 34,681 }, Rochester Hills $806.00 per person { Rochester Hills’s population is 70,995 }, Rochester’s $1,109 per person { Rochester’s population is 12,711 }.  Only Auburn Hills is paying more than our Lake Orion Village at $1,527 per person { Auburn Hills population is 21,412 – which is 18,439 more people than Lake Orion }. Yes the Village has sewerage pump stations but then so does Orion Township.
To bring these costs into clearer focus lets once again look at the total population size of each of the above Government entities.  Our Lake Orion Village population is only 2,973 and is the smallest population of all compared to Rochester’s 12,711, Oakland Twp’s 16,779, Oxford Twp’s 17,090, Auburn Hills 21,412, Orion Township’s 32,421, Independence Twp’s 34,681, Rochester Hills’s 70,995.
So it is requested that the Village of Lake Orion’s Village Council explain why our per citizen cost of village government is so much higher per person than our nearby communities who have larger populations. Then please realize that our expectations are that there is detail and dollar specifics in your justification response especially in the areas that you can accomplish cost reductions.
One place we feel could be fertile for possible additional village income is to examine closely the Downtown Development Authority’s gleaning over $500,000 a year of taxation from the business district taxes that could otherwise enrich the village coffers so citizen taxation could be lowered. For example the DDA recently sold its ownership of the downtown 51 Pub for a sizable chunk of money. How much was that sale amount? Did that money go into the village coffers or back into the DDA’s? How many other business buildings does the DDA own? There is also some village/DDA tax relief granted to some business owners. How does that work?
Questions such as for what period is the tax relief – for how much tax relief – for what period of time is it to be paid back. At what interest rate? Does the DDA also loan money to businesses?
At what interest rate? For how long? Does the DDA offer Grants? Under what conditions?
Perhaps the DDA exists and functions for good reasons but how can they spend half a million dollars or more every year – year after year in our small downtown? Actually the April 12th Lake Orion Review stated that the DDA’s estimated revenue for 2017-18 will be $934,863.
That’s nearly $1 million of revenue for one year with $520,000 of it coming from Business Owner taxation that would otherwise end up in the village coffers. Puzzling huh. Needless to say we need to better understand what the DDA is doing and the rules for how they do it. Then someone needs to explain how the loss of taxation dollars to the DDA that otherwise would end up in the village coffers benefits the general populace. Specific clarity is needed to justify these exclusionary funds. With the DDA’s cooperation I would like to understand their expenses, rules and benefits to the overall community.
Just to be clear we feel it would be virtually impossible not to find some sizable cost reductions with a yearly budget over $1.8 million and a current general fund balance of $466,288.00 when the total village populace is only 2,973.
I look forward to a village email/letter of response – please if possible prior to the May 8th Council meeting to discuss the proposed 2017-18 fiscal budget.
Fred Fleming
Village Resident since 1972

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