By: Commissioner Mike Coakley
Moving forward into 2016, we are continuing our focus on fiscal strength, smooth operations, and maintaining and improving our infrastructure. Our financial house is in good order with a prospect of ending the fiscal year with a small surplus. But we still have work to do to improve our financial condition. While we wrestled to the ground our unfunded pension liability with our bond issue, we still have a sizeable unfunded liability for retiree medical benefits (generally known as Other Post-Employment Benefits, "OPEB"). So in 2016, we will be looking for ways to address the OPEB liability and not kick the can down the road to leave it to future administrations. This may involve issuing bonds to pay the unfunded balance, or issuing new bonds for other requirements, such as roads, and using funds freed up from that to increase payments toward OPEB, bringing down the balance over time. One way or another, we will be addressing this year the unfunded OPEB liability.
On the operations side, all our major functions, Administration, Public Safety, Public Works, Treasury, etc. are running well with great leadership and terrific personnel. We've had a bit of a hiccup in our building department with the departure of our building official, but that will soon be resolved and we'll be back on solid footing there too. On that topic, however, a word of caution to property owners and builders alike. Expect to see code enforcement to be enhanced. There is a lot of construction activity going on in the city, which is good on a lot of levels, but has significant impacts on our neighbors and wear and tear on our roads. Our chief control on the impact of this activity is through enforcement of the building code. It is not a good plan to ask forgiveness rather than permission. There will be little tolerance for violations, so please plan accordingly. Let's all promote the high standards for which Bloomfield Hills is justly known.
We continue to work hard within budget constraints to maintain and improve our infrastructure. Chief among these is our roads program. In addition to the Manorwood, Renton, Chestnut and Woodwind road construction project slated for this year, we are looking at adding other sorely needed repairs, such as Orchard Ridge south, between Vaughan and Lone Pine, and possibly Rudgate. Thinking forward, we will be looking to improve telecommunications in the city. For example, there is no reason we shouldn't have fiber optic cable and upgraded wireless communications in the city. We've already seen some improvements in wireless transmissions, but we have a long way to go to bring our telecommunications to the level expected of a first rate city like ours. We will be reaching out to carriers, and possibly joining with surrounding communities, in an effort to achieve a significant upgrade in our systems. In this way we will not only maintain, but improve on the quality of life in our community.