Ypsilanti’s City Council is trying to find ways to solve the city’s budget crisis, according to an annarbor.com article: “The Ypsilanti City Council instructed city staff to begin investigating a wide range of solutions to its projected $10.69 million budget shortfall. During a ‘free form’ discussion at a special goal-setting meeting on Tuesday night, council members each offered ideas and thoughts on measures to close the gap.”
The results of this discussion were some ideas the article considered “previously unthinkable,” among them “retiring” the Water Street debt millage, or an income tax.
Those are not the most out-there ideas, mind, but a few of the suggestions are, such as altering the fire department safety guidelines to allow for fewer on-staff firefighters.
One of these solutions, as stated above, is possibly abandoning the “two-in and two-out” rule of the fire department- a rule that states no fireman goes into a building alone, and two firemen are on standby in case of an emergency. Presumably
removing this guideline would allow the fire department’s staff to be reduced.
They’re also looking at rising healthcare costs and city lighting as possible short term solutions. I don’t mind the healthcare or lighting ideas as they stand now, but the fire department issue is not a good idea. For one thing, it endangers the lives of the firemen. For another, it could reduce the department’s effectiveness in an emergency, which means more property damage or even higher casualties from emergencies.
Dealing with Water Street isn’t going to work either, since the debt is bond-based and not mortgage-based. Some of these possible solutions reek of desperation, and that’s not a good mindset to be in when trying to solve complicated economic issues. The idea of selling parks is one such desperate idea, fortunately one isn’t being seriously considered. How seriously is the council considering removing fire department safety guidelines, or defaulting a non-existent mortgage?
Whether a long-term solution or a short-term, any ideas worth seriously considering need to be made carefully and thoughtfully. They should not be made in desperation, and they should definitely not endanger state employees or the citizens of the city.
Removing fire department guidelines will do just that.
Some solutions that make more sense include storm water utility fees-if reasonable-or possibly merging the fire department and the police department into a single public safety department. More fees may mean more costs, but it’s a long term solution that can work. As long as a merged department doesn’t reduce staff like removing the safety guidelines would, that should work as a long term solution as well.
Some of the ideas the council is considering are good ones, or at least feasible ones. Defaulting mortgages that don’t exist or removing safety guidelines of civil departments are not good ideas, and selling parks is just desperation being voiced. The council needs to focus on viable solutions rather than waste time with worthless ones that just take up time with research and possible campaigning to make them seem attractive come Election Day. Or worse, are seriously considered as viable options.
Whatever the city council decides to do, hopefully it will be done thoughtfully and with a clear mind towards solving the city’s issues, without endangering those same people.