Budget Blog #2 – Green Legs

by Jaime Greene on February 14, 2012

 

WOW! As I have maneuvered my “green” legs though the governing and politics of Richmond I am learning that things are not black and white, the answer takes a while to get there, each Council member values services differently, and has a different opinion of what an “essential” service is. In addition whether folks like to admit it or not, myself included, we cling to “pets” of our own.  This is not a “jab” at anyone I am the same as the rest.  The night ended well, and the workshop was a sucess, again another opportunity for Council to delve into ideas.  The workshop provides a forum to work though thoughts, so that Council Members are fully prepared for decisions that need to be made at Council Meetings.

 

On Monday February 13, 2012 Council provided City Administration with, well, some direction. It took some conversation to get there but one of the many outcomes of the meeting was there was consensus that Council directed Administration that Police, Fire, Dispatching, and EMS were off limits; meaning we are satisfied with the services those entities provide and will not consider contracting out or changing those services at this time. This doesn’t mean that their budgets will not have to be reduced, this was an “overall” direction set forth.

 

In my “vision” statement the following bullet states:

  • Provide high level of citizen satisfaction and cost-effective deliver of city services: Value for tax dollars.
  • Protect public safety – ensuring essential city services receive priority funding

 

There is “buzz” on the street that I personally have it out for some of the departments listed above, nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is even while I was campaigning it was suggested to me, from other communities in Macomb County, that we should consider having the Sheriff take over our patrol. I said to them, “Absolutely not”! At that time, and even today, I defend my position that I choose to live in Richmond because of the great services the City provides. I like the police patrolling my street, that when I call the station they know who I am, where I live, “trouble” spots in the City, personalized service that every resident receives . I am not saying there is room for improvement, that is another blog for a time after budget season, but our essential services (I call them the big 5, Police, Fire, Dispatching, EMS, Public Services) are a notch above the rest.

 

Anyways, back to the outcome of last night. Folks the money has to come from somewhere. We have some fat to trim. There are going to be folks that are not happy with the decisions that are made. Toes will be stepped and feelings will be hurt. Our city has a healthy fund balance, but that will not last forever if we maintain the current operating budget we are running. Property values have been slashed, which means less tax dollars to pay for city services. I believe it is possible to maintain our services, but there are line items in the budget that have to give and we have to plan ahead. We need to maintain that healthy fund balance. Every dollar spent has to be justified as to why we spend that dollar. Priorities need to be evaluated and set.

 

It may seem like I am saying nothing, and at times last night I felt as if I was spinning my wheels. These “greene” legs are learning and I will maintain the vision that I set forth when deciding to run for this office. I will never lose sight of my foundation, integrity, who I am, the reason I am doing this, my vision for the city and my love for it! Please take this blog at face value. There is no hidden agenda here, I am just a Mom who wants to do right by her kids and preserve their future starting with my small town; A woman who speaks her mind and stands up for what she belives in; A citizen who values tax dollars and wants them stretched as far as they can go; A resident of the City of Richmond who wants to perserve the good things we have.  It is a privilege to serve the residents of Richmond and I treasure that honor.

 

In service,

Jaime Elizabeth Greene

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Cliff February 17, 2012 at 11:19 pm

I’m afraid I don’t agree about the police Department and how it’s been run. We rarely see them down our street. A policeman is a policeman, I could care less where they come from. What does concern me is the lack of a concerted effort to cover the entire city. I was told by one of our police officers some time ago, that if they patroled my street they’d have to patrol them all. I was dumbfounded. I have however, seen them on Loweplank and going down Gratiot, which places them out of the city. The favoritism of the police towards some people and groups in this city is also troubling. It’s actually expected that they cut some slack for certain people which I find repugnant.
The attitude that some things are off limits does not surprise me. My guess is that most of the council have friends and/or relatives in the various departments. You have to ask yourself why we have city government, for that matter any government? Is it to provide jobs or is it to provide essential services to the citizens of this city? Frankly, after observing, the politics of this city for over 50 years too many people believe it’s the city exists to provide jobs for their friends and buddies. I hope you and others, will at least get city to the point, that we can be confident that our tax dollars are being spent more wisely then they have been in the past.
Any government in this Country should be a servant of it’s people not the other way around. Just saying. God bless.

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James February 18, 2012 at 9:43 am

I agree with Cliff on a few points.

I think we have some great officers but there are some who just don’t seem like they want to do their job. Is morale down? Some days the officers just sit on Main Street all day and pull folks over. It also appears that crime is on the rise. Someone told me the Chief didn’t even come into town when we had the armed robbery. The friends in high places thing. The law is the law or is there gray to let folks off?

I agree that the city is here to provide essential services to the citizens. I hope they don’t forget it is my money that pays them. Thank you for posting the information.

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George February 18, 2012 at 12:50 pm

After reading the comments on your blogs, I would like to throw in my 2 cents. Regarding the Police Department. I do see Officers driving down many of the side streets thoughout the city. This is not to say that there are not a few Officers that “enjoy” the patroling of Main Street. The few times I have had to use the PD services the response time was wonderful. As a whole the City of Richmond has one of the best Police Departments in the County. If anyone is considering switching to Macomb County Sheriff Department for our services, they will need to consider many items. Did you know that the Sheriff department does not response to calls in Richmond Township unless it is a life or death incident. If you hit a deer and your car is disabled you are requested to go to the Sheriff Department in Mt. Clemons and file a report. How many times does the Sheriff Department request Richmond PD to respond to calls in the township because they do not have a Patrol car available? I know this happens, how, because my friend who lives in the Township had the Richmond PD response to her house and neighbors because the County “was not available”. If the budget needs to be trimmed we/you need to look at other areas. Good Old Days – do they pay for the services from DPW and the PD for the overtime hours that are required to work the festival? DPW works all weekend who is paying for that? A lot of residence and council say that GOD’s brings money into the city, really. Do you go to any restaurant during that weekend? Do you go to any hair salon during that weekend? Not saying that the festival is not wonderful, it is. I myself enjoy it very much. But they, Good Old Days, needs to pay for the services. And regards to GOD’s is it not conflict of interest when you have the Mayor and some City Council members on the board for GOD’s. Next – Little League Baseball – this coming from a main source with Little League- why is the City providing money to update, replace or build new dugouts, trees, sand…etc? Again some City Council members are associated with Little League. This should all be funded by no one else but the Richmond Little League organization. Does the city profit from the games? Once again do you go to the restaurants in town for food or do you buy from what is available at the field? There are some businesses that will benefit from the people that it brings into town..gas stations, yes. I know this is long but I only have a few more comments. I have a city council member that lives on my street. Why are we taking our 1 officer off of patrol and having them deliver the City Council their agenda’s? Can someone from the City offices deliver them? Maybe use an employee from there and compensate them by letting them leave early the next day or come into work later the next business day. Or the council members can pick up the agenda’s from City Hall. Overall I do believe that Richmond is one of the best place to live. I was not born and raised here, lived here for 16 years now, but it was my choice and do not regret my decision to move here. The response from the Police Department, Fire Department and EMS is the best. This City will survive the budget cuts and grow once again. Thank you Mrs. Greene for allowing us the chance to have a place were we can “soundoff”. I have learned more from your website then I have in the past 16 years in the City. Maybe now the rest of the residents with take a minute to respond also.

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Gary February 21, 2012 at 4:03 pm

George:
The city of Richmond does NOT, and never has given one cent to the little league. RLL is a self funded, volunteer organization. Any outside money that is attained is through grants and such. The next time you decide to “soundoff”…get your facts straight.

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Willy February 23, 2012 at 11:20 pm

Sorry Gary, your wrong. What do you mean grants and such? Through who? At the council meeting recently the LL was looking for the city to fund many of the projects the envision with possible TIFA funds. I don’t know if the city has paid for al or in part for things in the past, but I do know that the city covers things like the utility bills. Apparently this year the water and electrical is in the thousands. So your quite wrong.

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Jaime Greene February 25, 2012 at 9:42 pm

Gary thank you for you post. I do value all opinions. However your statement is not completely true. While the Richmond Little League is a volunteer organization, a portion of the money used to build the fields and enhance them is financed by the City through both the General Fund and the Tax Increment Finance Authority also know as TIFA. The fields themselves reside on City property and the City does pay for all utilities. In addition the Little League just requested approval from City Council of their 5 year plan which include request for funds for further enhancements of over $500,000. Little League is valued by the City and that is why the Council has continued to support their efforts.

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Willy February 23, 2012 at 11:39 pm

Several comments about the police in Richmond. I won’t go on about all I know about that department but I’d like to know just how you arrived at the conclusion that they are “one of the best police departments in the county”? Did you do a study? Visit each department?
Fact is as far as I’m concerned Richmond police department is just ok. For years it’s been part of the politics of this city, and I’ve been aware of a lot of what goes on there for 50+ years. You say you’ve seen them down your street, well I seen them down my street only rarely. Did you ever consider that they come down your street because there is a city council person on it? I know for a fact thats what they do, or they often visit with off duty officers. I’ve seen that happen many times.
Your also wrong about how a contract with the county would work. If we abolish the city force, we would get designated patrols. Also, there would be access to the counties investigators, another plus. I’m sure that they would have a mini station here or utilize the one in Lenox,. On the other hand what about a regional police force with other towns?
There are many ways it could be done. By the way, Richmond Township has only emergency service because they don’t or won’t pay for designated police protection. Why should the city cover the township when they wont pay for it? The police department should at least be on the table for discussion since its one of the largest budget items.

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