Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Detroit's Budget Impasse

Mayor Dave Bing previously proposed a budget for the City of Detroit's upcoming fiscal year, which made a multitude of assumptions, such as including revenue that Detroit wasn't guaranteed to get. President Charles Pugh and the other members of the City Council, very wisely in my opinion, put forth their own budget - one that gave the Detroit Police Department one of the largest budgets in the nation on a per resident basis, but still made cuts to other departments.

For the record, I believe the City Council should have cut deeper and demanded more institutional reforms within the City of Detroit's bureaucracy. I also would not have made any cuts to the Detroit Fire Department. However, I will take my victories where I can get them.

Anyway, after weeks of maneuvering back and forth, Mayor Dave Bing announced that the City Council's budget will go into effect later this week. The Mayor has predicted that this budget, with cuts that amount to a 1.6% reduction in expenditures, will have implications akin to Armageddon.

Many people have posted on Facebook and elsewhere to vent their frustrations over these cuts. I would, however, would simply like to remind everyone of two important facts:
  1. Even with the proposed cuts, the Detroit Police Department will still have one of the largest budgets of any police department in the nation on a per resident basis. If the current leadership of the Department cannot deliver world-class results with this budget, it's likely time for them to be replaced by someone who can.
  2. Most importantly, I would like to remind everyone that Mayor Bing proposed a multitude of changes as part of his turnaround plan two years ago. This included things ranging from refinancing Detroit's debt to selling or closing the Coleman A. Young Municipal Airport. Unfortunately, very few of these things have been completed after two years. If they had been, there would not have been a need for these cuts.
The ball is in Mayor Bing's court. It is his turn to start getting things done in this city or step aside so someone else can.

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