Before cutting public safety services in Ypsilanti, make sure you have cut everywhere else
Ypsilanti City Manager Ed Koryzno's proposal to cut more firefighters and police is wrongheaded and a disaster for our city. I understand that the old canard "we've cut everywhere else" was raised yet again during last Monday's City Council budget meeting in defense of cutting public safety services. It is not true.
Until City Hall is operating on a three days per week part-time schedule, you haven't cut everywhere else.
Until the city has fully and completely implemented privatization or sharing of every possible local government service for which there is a position at City Hall or the Department of Public Services not regulated by the City Charter, you haven't cut everywhere else.
Until the city has renegotiated the city attorney's contract to significantly reduce the city's excessive legal expenses, you haven't cut everywhere else.
Until the Ypsilanti DDA is compelled to stop spending public tax dollars on yet another set of streetscape improvements in favor of spending those funds to pay for enhanced police protection in the DDA district to combat the increasing amount of late evening/early morning robberies and gang-like activities, you haven't cut everywhere else.
Until the DDA is required to close it's rented space and consolidate into the City offices (and pay rent for that space to the city), you haven't cut everywhere else.
Until the city has dropped all traditional pension plans (including the sweetheart deal given to Mr. Koryzno several years ago) in favor of defined contribution plans such as a 401k or 457 plan, you haven't cut everywhere else.
For more than five years, Mr. Koryzno has consistently offered up the same tired lines - “cut public safety first,” and “we've cut everywhere else.” I'm tired of hearing them, aren't you? Perhaps it's time for our city manager to begin enjoying his sweetheart retirement deal - that would save the city over $125,000 per year in salary and benefits alone!
I understand the dire financial situation the city is in, and I understand that the non-Water Street part of the financial problem is out of the control of local leaders. Our economy is in a mess, and property values will not recover for some time. Worse yet, our current leadership in Lansing has consistently failed to live up to its responsibilities, and is trying to balance the state budget on the backs of local governments and school districts.
Those stark facts do not change another stark reality: If the City Council elects to cut more public safety positions, there will be no real cost savings. All that will happen is a transfer of those costs to our businesses and neighborhoods as we are forced to pay for ever more draconian measures to protect ourselves.
If the City of Ypsilanti fails to provide for basic public safety, we will see more vacancies, more abandonment, and more crime - leading to even fewer tax dollars for future budgets. I strongly urge City Council to ignore Mr. Koryzno's public safety proposal in favor of recommendations like those above.
Rodney C. Nanney is a resident of Ypsilanti and the owner of Building Place Consultants. He is also a candidate for the 54th House district.