“We have to start getting down to the nitty-gritty real quick.”

I used the quote from Council Chair Baron as the Title of this post.

HEIGHTS – City officials are working on a deficit reduction plan to balance the city’s financesand avoid the possibility of an emergency financial manager.

The proposed plan followed the city’s Dec. 22 submission of an audit report to the state’s Department of the Treasury which revealed a $5 million general fund deficit.

The plan still needs to be reviewed by the state’s Treasury Department before it can be implented. If the plan is rejected, the city could face possible takeover by an emergency financial manager. Baron said an EFM is unlikely because of actions to correct the deficit, including sharing information technology services with Dearborn and the Nov. 8 voter approval of a Headlee Amendment override. He expects a deficit reduction plan in place in the next three months. Source:Down River Sunday Times.

 

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17 thoughts on ““We have to start getting down to the nitty-gritty real quick.””

  1. Sue

    One time I was talking with someone who works for the city this was back over a year ago. I said that I would volunteer a few hours a week at city hall or where ever for the city. Told them would stuff envelopes if that is what was needed. Was told that there’s no way the Mayor can allow that it would violate Union contracts. Never talked about it again.

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  2. Linda, I find your thoughts very helpful and definately in the right direction. I want to thank you for the time and consideration you spent in listing them for us.

    However, the powers that be don’t want any of this because they would have to start focusing on the city instead of themselves.

    Case in point, a few years ago my husband volunteered (no pay expected) to be a fleet manager for one of the city’s departments. This was his job before he retired and he would have set up an excellent program. He not only volunteered to set the program up but was willing to manage it- for free. He was just blown off. They don’t want a resident knowing about how he is being ripped-off. If they really had the city as a concern they would have jumped on this opportunity.

    The powers that be don’t want our help they want our money so they can take care of themselves. When the money well runs dry they threaten us with breaking off city services. Anywhere else this is called extortion and is a crime, but in Dearborn Heights this is just SOP.

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  3. Yeah…..whether you like it or not.

    They butchered a big maple tree in the MIDDLE of my back yard. It wasn’t anywhere near the easement…or the wires. When I received a letter about them being in the neighborhood, I never expected them to be in my tree (I only have one).

    Rather than cut the end off a branch, they removed all of it at the tree trunk, eliminating approximately 20% of the tree’s canopy and leaving a huge hole that, even 10 years later, has yet to fill in.

    Now, when they’re in the neighborhood, I let them know that I’m watching them and I stare them down until they leave.

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  4. When I first started paying attention to the happenings in the city I was shocked. I’ve lived in this city for 20 years out of the 20 I’ve only been really paying attention for the past 2 and half years.. Like you and others that come here I find myself getting very angry and nervous I started the blog for that very reason. I felt there must be others in the city who like myself thought everything was just great. As we’ve all seen not the so much. The more I uncover the more frustrated I get the more things have stayed the same the more I loss hope that anything will ever happen. For 2 1/2 years and I can go back to the beginning of the blog and still find the same things going on. Not only are they still going on things have gotten worse.

    The same games the same lies the same people telling them and playing them. Have I wanted to throw in the towel and walk away yes I have and like you I decided I’m not going to let it get to me.. You and others do make a difference and we need more the more people who are questioning what is going on the better. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me and that is great I’ve always said fresh eyes looking at any situation is a good thing. Debate is great and the more of that happening the better.. Keep watching keep asking and keep giving those great ideas they are listening guys..

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  5. Have you reported those seeming ordinance violations to the Building Dept? Every time I’ve reported something, they’ve taken care of it the next day. That’s one department in this city that is working properly.

    As to citizens knowing small work done in their home requires a permit, I would think that most of them do but choose to ignore it.

    The one thing that does bug me, though, is the trees. Why should I have to ask the city’s permission to cut a tree on MY property? And why, when I’m having problems with a CITY tree and the city comes to cut it back but WON’T cut branches over power lines, do I have to pay to have it cut back? I had another city tree that was growing so big that it was killing trees in my back yard. I had to pay to have the branches cut off. Why? As far as I’m concerned, if it’s a city tree, the city should be reimbursing me – within reason. My neighbor also has a Mulberry (I think) tree growing next to his house that was planted from bird droppings. Does he have to have to city’s permission to cut that down? I wouldn’t. As far as I’m concerned, they don’t know about it and I’d take care of it before the root system started growing into my foundation. I have another neighbor whose front lawn is riddled with roots from a city tree and that same tree keeps pulling up the sidewalk but the city won’t let him do anything about it. He can’t plant a lawn and he can’t put in a sprinkler system because of the tree and he has to keep paying to replace the sidewalk. How fair is that?

    Oh, well. Just blowing off steam. It seems there’s so much anymore about this city that irritates the hell out of me. I was talking with another person who wrote something on the site so I called her. She said she wasn’t aware of what was going on in our city until she found this site. She said she felt as if she was irritated and worried all the time now. I started to feel that way and decided I wasn’t going to let it upset me that much. But it does seem to me that we’re being led by uneducated people who really don’t know what to do when a city is in as much trouble as ours. And if we go the way of an Emergency Manager, what education does he/she have that would allow that person to make the necessary, AND INTELLIGENT, moves we need to make to save our city money without affecting police and fire. As far as I’m concerned, the every day workings of police and fire shouldn’t be touched. If their pensions are ridiculous (and we know the police pension is – thank you ATTM) then let’s look there. We need to make intelligent cuts and I don’t trust the people running the city currently to do that.

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  6. What has been left off these lists is the number one taker of the cities money . That is fringe benefits. Heathcare for life is not a sustainable cost. The total compensation packages for city employees have to be reworked. When you are left with only 10 % of your budget to take care of the needs of the city ,it is an impossible task. Opting out of public act 152 was probably one of the dumbest things ever. It made no financial sense. As I have said before I believe the mayor makes decisions for the city that in the long run benefit him now and when he leaves his city employment. Not a good way to run a city that is broke. I guess you have to care to make responsible choices.

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  7. The police officers were suppose to be doing that. Better yet the two youth officers have been reassigned to traffic duty( giving tickets) Detectives are now taking over youth offenders. Remember 250,000.00 has to come from the justice department part of the deficit reduction plan. Wonder how many will be fighting these tickets in court based on what the Mayor has said publicly.

    Hell even councilman Berry said during a heated exchange with the Mayor at the last study session he is sick and tired of balancing the budget on the people’s back with traffic tickets. Leaving no doubt that this is going on. The Mayor agreed saying he didn’t like it either.

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  8. The city should have hired or sent someone to attend the grant writing seminars long ago. There s potential there for money that the city needs. Let’s start by hiring someone who has the back ground in contract negotiations. Not full time or anything, but it’s utterly insanity to have some one negotiating these contracts with out the back ground to do so.

    I think one person could manage the cars and properties of the city two separate people are not needed.

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  9. WHAT ABOUT THE ANIMAL CONTROL OFFICER POSITION? THIS WAS “ELIMINATED” AND NEVER BEEN READDRESSED AND THERE HAS BEEN VIRTUAL MUTINY AFTER THE CUT BUT NO MORE DISCUSSION..TRY GETTING HELP WITH A STRAY DOG NOW!! WHAT GIVES?

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  10. And one more…

    Here are some non-departmental jobs that could probably pay for themselves. I don’t know where they would fit in the hierarchy of City government, but they should be non-elected professional jobs, not tasks added to someone’s job description. Just something to consider for forward planning, once the City has money again.

    –Fleet manager (all vehicles)
    –Properties manager (owned, rented and vacant)
    –Contracts manager (all union and other contracted personnel relationships)
    –Grants and subsidies manager (availability of and participation in federal, state, county and other programs)

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  11. One more to add under EVALUATE…

    –Permits and ordinances (within reason)—I’m not suggesting canvassing for violations, simply being observant and aware. I can look out my back window and see two privacy fences that don’t comply. One was installed within the past couple years; the other one is older. I can also look out my front door and see a City sidewalk that is about 2 inches out of alignment in several places due to root encroachment from a City tree. When I get contractor estimates for a service, I’ve found that some contractors are aware of what the City ordinances are, and some aren’t (I’ve learned to ask). Are contractors made aware of applicable ordinances when they take out a permit for work? Is the list of work which requires a permit published anywhere? Do citizens know what work requires a permit (especially for small jobs)? Speaking from experience, I would say “no.”

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  12. Hi Simplicity,

    That’s a fair enough request, so here goes…..

    Suppose we couldn’t run a deficit. What would stay and what would go?

    I had to make that decision after the company I freelanced for, for 17 years, went out of business without paying me for my last project (a big one) and I was then hired by a twice-convicted felon (who somehow passed a background check, and didn’t pay her contractors) to write e-learning for a major company. As a result, I had a year with virtually no income. I had to go into my savings to pay for that year, which means that I scrutinized every penny I spent.

    I wasn’t surprised by how much I cut (and I cut a lot), I was surprised by how much I kept. First, I reviewed everything I bought to determine whether it was really needed and then, if it was a “keeper,” I negotiated the best price I could get. I became a savvy shopper and a less wasteful consumer. I found recreational things to do that were free. Even though I have more income now, I’ve maintained nearly all of the cuts I originally made. And, I never gave up the important things, like insurance. (I even kept my cable TV service, although I cut it way back to reflect what I could afford).

    – – – – –

    Here is what I would do if I had to make choices for the City. (I live in the “isthmus,” so I don’t have a north/south bias. I am also a senior who has worked for more than 20 years as a contractor, just so you know.)

    KEEP (but review for savings)….

    –City government
    –Public safety
    –Infrastructure (building, public works, water)
    –Libraries
    –Essential senior and disability services (transportation, food, safety, health & wellness)—Partner with other providers wherever possible
    –Newsletters and publications

    EVALUATE (to eliminate the deficit)….

    –Contract and freelance workers—Why is a contract person needed? Is the work seasonal? Is a contract person less expensive? If a contract person is more expensive, should a City employee be qualified to do the job?
    –Vehicles (non-public safety, non-infrastructure city cars and their use)—Consider a vehicle pool.
    –Owned versus rented buildings—The first choice should be to maintain and use what we own. The second choice should be to rent out what we own. The last choice should be to rent and maintain what someone else owns.
    –Parks and recreation—Parkland is an asset which should be maintained and insured. Its use (under our present financial constraints) should be either self-supporting or partnered with other providers (schools, the county, etc.).
    –Senior recreational services which are not self-funding
    –Reliance on government funding (and impact of cutting funding for items listed under “keep”)
    –Litigation—For what are we being sued? Is there a pattern? What can we do to eliminate these situations?
    –Maintenance of vacant properties—I live between two empty houses. Last year, the City sidewalk in front of the bank-owned one was never shoveled. The banks can do better.

    CONSIDER…

    –Privatization or consolidation of services with other communities (including those listed under “keep”)—Examine the full cost of the service including retirement benefits.
    –Suspension of “nice to have” (as opposed to “need to have”) services that are paid for by the City—I believe my little street is the public safety “through” street for my subdivision, so it’s always snow plowed. It’s also always swept and washed (usually weekly), something I think would only be necessary briefly in the spring and fall to keep the maple seeds and leaves out of the sewers.

    – – – – –

    Just a few thought-starters. Maybe they’re realistic; maybe they’re not. Maybe some of them are already being done. I’d be curious to know.

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  13. Linda,

    What are your ideas for cuts? Please don’t say more (non public-safety) city workers because they have already been cut to the bone. I’d be interested to hear what you are thinking.

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  14. I’ll also bet that they didn’t even think of the FEMA solution until they heard the Detroit story this past week in the news.

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  15. Another quote…

    “He said the city also applied for a Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response Grant created by the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency which allows for an increase in Fire Department staffing, which would potentially relieve some of the Fire Department’s overtime cuts.”

    Cutting Public Safety to apply for FEMA money…isn’t that what Detroit is doing (with its Police Department pink slips)?

    That’s not a fix; it’s more smoke and mirrors. As soon as federal spending is cut, we’ll be right back where we were.

    There are plenty of places to cut that don’t affect Public Safety and we have yet to make any of them.

    As long as we solve our problems with someone else’s money, we’re not solving our problems.

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