Editorial: City resourceful, but state should restore revenuePublished 10:22pm Wednesday, February 8, 2012
With the state of Michigan heavily slashing revenue sharing to municipalities in recent years, cities and townships across the state are feeling the squeeze.
The City of Niles has been no stranger to cutbacks. The city had to cut two police officers this past year, including the captain position. The fire department lost a firefighter this year and its marshal in 2008. The Department of Public Works lost its assistant director in 2011 and is down four employees from a decade ago.
But we should applaud our city departments for being resourceful and committed to providing the best possible services to residents even if it means working some extra hours.
The fire department had to switch from shifts of four firefighters to three-man shifts recently but has partnered with the township to help maintain response times. The department is also focusing on fire prevention by doing routine building inspections and community fire education.
Meanwhile the city police department has been able to keep the same number of officers on the streets despite the cuts this year. Chief and former captain Jim Millin has retained the captain responsibilities to go with his new budgetary and administrative duties. He says he has had to work more hours and more weekends and is leaning on the experience and knowledge of former chief and current city administrator Ric Huff.
As the former police chief, Huff recognizes the importance of public safety and has indicated that it would be the priority if some of the state revenue sharing is restored.
That is good to hear, because while staffing is being cut, service calls are holding steady or on the rise in recent years.
But while city employees are staying positive and trying to do more with less, Fire Chief Larry Lamb and Chief Millin have admitted that any more staffing reductions could affect response times. That’s why it is incredibly important the state at least maintain its current revenue sharing levels and increase them as soon as possible.
This editorial represents the views of the editorial board.