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Oakland County Abuses Federal Stimulus Money


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Everyone has heard of Alaska's failed attempt to use federal funding to builld a "Bridge to Nowhere", now Oakland County has abused federal stimulus dollars to build their own BRIDGE TO NOWHERE from a grant aimed to fight blight and assist communities with making infrastructure repairs in low to moderate income neighborhoods.

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Oakland County Abuses Federal Stimulus Money

  1. 1. Oakland County Abuses Federal Stimulus Dollars “ BRIDGE TO NOWHERE” Oakland County Commissioners spend Stimulus dollars to build Bridge to Nowhere
  2. 2. Oakland County received a $1 million dollar grant to be used in 2009 to supplement the federal government’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The purpose of the CDBG program is to provide funds to assist local communities with: 1) prevention or elimination of slums or blight ; 2) address infrastructure needs having a particular urgency because existing conditions pose a serious and immediate threat to the health or welfare of a community for which other funding is not available. Additional criteria included that selected projects to be funded through the grant be selected in neighborhoods with low to moderate income populations and be able to begin construction in 2009.
  3. 3. 16 eligible applications were submitted by local cities and townships to compete for this grant funding from: Auburn Hills Clawson Ferndale Hazel Park Keego Harbor Madison Heights Milford Oak Park Oakland Twp Oxford Twp Royal Oak Twp Rochester Rochester Hills South Lyon Troy Oakland County than had to prioritize how it would allocate the CDBG applications from available funding
  4. 4. Funding requests from local communities for the $1 million stimulus grant exceeded $6 million dollars. Based upon an internal review process the County awarded the stimulus grant of $1,015,800 as follows: $101,580 – Oakland County (administrative costs) $447,968 – Oxford Twp (800 ft bridge/3,000 ft sidewalk) $292,550 – City of Oak Park (reconstruction of a residential street) $173,702 – Village of Milford (sanitary sewer repair)
  5. 5. Questions the amount of money being spent to build a brand new ¾ of a mile sidewalk and boardwalk when other projects that involve repairing crumbling infrastructure are rejected? + In comparison the City of Troy could have reconstructed an access road to Oakland Mall for $100,000 + City of Clawson could have replaced 8,500 ft of existing sidewalk in need of repair for $150,000 + City of Madison Heights could have rebuilt a water main for $201,000 Based upon his concerns County Commissioner Tim Burns went to visit the Oxford Township site before the issue came to a vote.
  6. 6. And was troubled by what he found …. the project was a “BRIDGE TO NOWHERE”
  7. 7. The Oxford Township project is a ¾ of a mile project on one side of rural Drahner Road consisting of a ¼ mile bridge through a wetland starting at Pontiac Street and ending with a ½ mile sidewalk to Lapeer Road.
  8. 8. NW Corner of Drahner & Pontiac Road No existing connecting sidewalks on Pontiac Road to the North No existing connecting sidewalks on Drahner to the West No existing sidewalks on the opposite side of the street (South)
  9. 9. Drahner Road just East of Pontiac Road heading towards Lapeer Oakland County will spend approximately $300,000 to build a brand new boardwalk on this ¼ mile stretch of property.
  10. 10. Drahner Road heading East towards Lapeer Road
  11. 11. Drahner Road ½ mile from Lapeer Road
  12. 12. Drahner Road ¼ mile from Lapeer Road
  13. 13. Along the last 100 feet of Drahner Road before Lapeer is an asphalt sidewalk with a crosswalk leading to a Rite Aid. There is no sidewalk on the West side of Lapeer road going North
  14. 15. South of the Lapeer/Drahner intersection has gas stations with no sidewalk connectivity on either side.
  15. 16. Continuing east on Drahner past Lapeer there are no sidewalks
  16. 17. “ What is troubling is that we have aging cities in Oakland County with crumbling infrastructure and depreciating property values that had a blind eye turned to them.” -Tim Burns / Sept 2, 2009 (Voting NO to funding Oakland County’s BRIDGE TO NOWHERE) “ We should be using federal stimulus dollars to rebuild and repair our existing infrastructure, not to cater political constituencies with pork barrel projects. How can we justify building a nice new boardwalk, when for a third of that amount we could be repairing the same length of sidewalks in our poorest community, Royal Oak Township”
  17. 18. 4 to 6 projects that would have replaced existing roads, sewers, sidewalks, and water pipes in communities across Oakland County could have been funded for the same price as the BRIDGE TO NOWHERE.
  18. 19. Brad Jacobson (R – Oxford Township) + Announced he was running to represent Oxford Township as State Representative just days before the funding of the BRIDGE TO NOWHERE. + Currently serves as the Republican Caucus Chair on the Oakland County Board of Commissioners (BOC). + Stated during a committee meeting that he was involved with developing the selection criteria for the grant selections. ( P&B Meeting: August 25, 2009) + Serves on the BOC’s Planning & Building Committee which was responsible for overseeing the County’s grant selection process. Brooks Patterson (R –County Executive) + Expected Planning & Building Committee to rubber stamp selections and did not provide any information on grant selection process other than names of projects his staff had chosen for funding during Commissioners’ review. ( P&B Meeting: August 25, 2009 ) + Staff told Commissioners it was “too late to challenge selections” before BOC had opportunity to approve the projects so they should just vote for it. ( P&B Meeting: August 25, 2009 /BOC Meeting: September 2, 2009 ) + Stated during BOC meeting that the project “would benefit apartment buildings built in the 1960’s and 70’s that now house some seniors citizens who may want to be able to walk to the new Rite Aid that was built down the street.” ( BOC Meeting: September 2, 2009)
  19. 20. BURNS response to JACOBSON defense of the BRIDGE TO NOWHERE <ul><li>A majority of the senior housing is within a ¼ to ½ mile of Lapeer Road while ¾ of the project expense is for the 800 ft wetlands bridge at the far end of the project area and the opposite direction from Rite Aid. </li></ul><ul><li>While we share a mutual concern for resident’s safety and convenience, these apartment buildings have been in place for more than 30 years without sidewalk access. The federal program associated with the grant is meant to address urgent infrastructure needs or to prevent blight in a community. </li></ul><ul><li>Oakland County should prioritize rebuilding and maintaining existing infrastructure before building building brand new projects in order to prevent blight and preserve property values throughout the county. </li></ul>
  20. 21. BURNS response to JACOBSON defense of the BRIDGE TO NOWHERE <ul><li>Under Oakland County’s guidelines for allocating the grant money a qualified project only received up to a possible 20 points for meeting the Recovery Act’s goals, but could receive up to 55 points for project readiness. The County’s selection process placed more weight on a community’s ability to administer the project versus its actual need for it. </li></ul><ul><li>The $101,000 dollars in administrative money Oakland County received should have been used to assist communities in accomplishing the necessary deadlines and project requirements instead of padding its general budget. </li></ul><ul><li>Clawson had a contractor in town doing a similar project that was already budgeted for and could have quickly started the additional grant project, yet they scored lower than a project that requires “engineering” in Oxford Township on “project readiness.” This demonstrates the County’s review process was flawed. </li></ul>
  21. 22. BURNS response to JACOBSON defense of the BRIDGE TO NOWHERE <ul><li>Oakland County should use the same care and discretion in spending Federal tax dollars as those it collects from local residents and businesses. </li></ul><ul><li>While some have argued why make such a big deal over just five hundred thousand dollars, taxpayers should want their government to scrutinize how it spends every dime. The unemployed workers, single mothers who work two jobs to pay the bills, and every other Oakland County resident in these tough economic times surely understands the value of that money. </li></ul>
  22. 23. Only 4 Commissioners voted NO to funding the BRIDGE TO NOWHERE Tim Burns (D-Clawson) David Coulter (D-Ferndale) Gary McGillivray (D-Madison Heights) Dave Woodward (D-Royal Oak)
  23. 24. If your County Commissioner voted YES on building the BRIDGE TO NOWHERE contact them and tell them to STOP abusing taxpayer dollars. Contact your County Commissioner by visiting or calling 248-858-0100