For those following the 2012 – 2013 budget deliberation in Dearborn Heights you know I am in disagreement with the approach the administration is taking toward our budgetary issues. The budget is heavily dependent upon revenues generated from tickets written by police, early retirements and a four day work week.
In my opinion a direct approach to resolve the issue is more affective. According to a study conducted by Plante Moran back in February, it reveals our police force is staffed with 20 percent more employees than other cities with similar populations. It also suggests if the city went into receivership, the police department would be the first department where cuts would be made. Reducing the department by 12 officers is a savings of over $850,000 with no loss of the essential service.
Unfortunately, rather than making those cuts, we have increased overtime hoping it will entice police to write more tickets. Although there are violators, there is a gray-line and preying upon those on the line is wrong. The real savings and tough decisions are not being made.
Our parks and recreation director is considering a position with another city; that being said we should eliminate the position from the budget. This would save an additional $120,000 and place us in a position to join a regional recreation director. This regional approach will come sooner-than-later based upon the state’s intended actions.
True, we cannot cut our way into prosperity, but we can trim the fat and operate leaner; and trimming the fat does not mean a shorter workweek. The four day workweek has equated to inadequate services such as lawn maintenance, street cleaning and building permits along with a consideration of hiring additional part time help necessary to adequately complete clerical duties. These are essential services that factor into property values;
Poor city, plus poor services, equals poor values.
The frustration builds with the $5.5m Budget Deficit Reduction Proposal we submitted to the state. Yes, the state finally approved the fourth proposal, but they approved it because the numbers ‘appear’ to be logical. Unfortunately the proposal is loaded with variables. It’s the equivalent of an unfunded building project doomed to fail because actual dollars for the project are not there. The proposal will never be realized because it’s heavily dependent upon ticket revenue…
Obviously, I take a different management approach to our dilemma without feeling fearful or intimidated, and by addressing the issue head-on with no candy coating.
The above recommendations save the City $970,000 a year. Over five years it amounts to $4.85 million without the dependency of ticket revenue. That would eliminate our deficit and balance the budget.
- Tom Berry is a Dearborn Heights city councilman.