I cannot attend as many meetings as I would like due to my work schedule. I do watch all the meetings as they hit the city website. After reading the new priority list, I have some comments I would like to make.
I am disappointed, but not entirely surprised to find unfunded liabilities a third of the way down the list. In my opinion, this is by far our most pressing issue. This debt continues to grow, putting our city in great financial jeopardy. The same problem, with its fairly predictable cycle, has already taken down many cities across the U.S. The commission spent a great deal of time and energy selling us the public safety millage and the HRO. They owe at least that much attention to this issue. It's not going away and people need to be educated as to its importance. We have a lot of smart people in Royal Oak. Put it on the table. Maybe someone will come up with some viable suggestions/solutions.
Many of us are still trying to recoup our losses from recent years. Income is stagnant or down. More people are out of work. I expect we will be seeing a new millage for road repairs in November. Yet, most of the priorities listed involve new ways to spend tax dollars. What does the mayor and commission expect to get in return for all the new hires, part to full time, and consultants? How will it be measured? And, why are we talking about employee wellness committees and facilities. Taxpayers already pay through the nose for healthcare and pensions. I can't afford a gym membership, or a trainer, or a consultant. I may or may not be able to afford my new premiums. I'm sure I'm not alone. If city employees desire a committee or facility, they should band together and create/pay for it themselves. How are these proposed expenditures justified?
I personally don't believe that taxpayers should be forced to pay for anything beyond essential services and programs. But if we do have to kick in dollars, why can't it be our choice as to where the money goes? Allow individual taxpayers the opportunity to fund what they believe is important. I support the Michigan Humane Society with money, time, and my talents. I believe it serves a very important purpose. But I don't think everyone else should be forced to fund it. Programs that are worthy will survive, while programs that are not truly important to the people will go by the wayside. Monies will be spent in a far more judicious manner if each taxpayer knows exactly what is coming out of his/her pocket for a particular cause.
Diane K. Hargan