Local Government Leaders Worry About State Budget

By: Lauren Zakalik Email
By: Lauren Zakalik Email

At noon Thursday, Republican leaders will meet to discuss the Governor's budget-balancing executive order-- if she issues it, as expected. Local elected officers are waiting anxiously for details.

"For years, we've been doing more with less. We are now at the point where we can't do more with less," says Farmington Hills Mayor and Michigan Municipal League President Vicki Barnett.

That was the main message at Wednesday's Michigan Municipal League convention. Many of Michigan's mayors told legislators the state's problems are trickling down to their communities, and until the state gets it figured out, cities will continue to suffer.

"With an economic downturn in the state of Michigan, how are we going to be able to generate the revenue we need to continue funding the programs we need without taxing people out of their homes?" Barnett asks.

That's a major concern in Lansing Township. Treasurer Kathy Rodgers says funds coming from the state keep dropping, leaving the township's budget bone-dry.

"In the last six years, we've taken an $800,000 hit from the state," Rodgers says. "If we take another hit in revenue sharing, Lansing Township will be in tough shape."

Rodgers adds that if the executive order mandates more cuts or a decrease in revenue sharing, public safety will suffer across Michigan.

"[Cuts] affect one thing: public safety," she says. "And not just in Lansing Township, but every township in the state."

"It's important [the state] maintains proper funding to local communities so we have enough police on the beat, funds for our fire programs, to pick up the garbage, to honor the promises we made to our citizens," Barnett says.

How the Governor plans to do all that? We're still to find out.

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