Best, worst of Michigan communities’ fiscal ratings

David Hollister knows a bit about how public budgets work.

He served as mayor of Lansing for a decade. Before that, he served two decades in the Michigan House, representing Lansing.

And he says, “We need to recalculate how urban centers are funded."

A Munetrix review of data from local governments sent to the state found communities in growing trouble and communities digging out of budget problems. But, overall, the theme was one of turmoil, as reflected in the graphics below.

danger

top_marks

trouble_rev

crisis_rev

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Comments

Laura Vogel
Tue, 05/21/2013 - 9:42am
If you've ever been down Eight Mile along the Coolidge Road area, you have to wonder why Royal Oak Township is still there. It is the unwanted leftovers of what used to be the larger Royal Oak Township back when the area was first surveyed and platted. The surrounding now-cities of Oak Park, Royal Oak, Huntington Woods, Ferndale, Southfield... all have grown while the township sits floundering. Too small and too fiscally unsound to effectively govern itself, it is the municipal poster child for the related problem of too many school districts. Both are characterized by more duplicative bureaucracy than is warranted. The logical answer would be to, essentially, force Oak Park to subsume Royal Oak Twp. I'm sure Oak Park doesn't want to, though.
Charles Richards
Tue, 05/21/2013 - 2:36pm
Mr. Hollister is quoted as saying, “We need to recalculate how urban centers are funded.” Has he considered the possibility that if communities have external funding, that they might find perks and projects they don't find worth paying for very attractive all of a sudden? The graphics listing communities in different degrees of fiscal health, or are improving ot deteriorating are all very well, but it would have been far preferable to use histograms showing how all communities were doing.
Randall Blum
Tue, 05/21/2013 - 5:54pm
It is somewhat humorous to see Saginaw on the Crisis Averted list, moving from a 6 to a 2. In your May 16th article "New rankings find fiscal troubles for city halls across Michigan" it was noted that this increase was "bolstered by a significant increase in community development grants and the transfer of $2.2 million from a budget stabilization fund into its general fund". It was then noted that there is a $3 million deficit and recommendations to "cut its public safety staffing nearly in half, to 55 police officers and 35 firefighters". What should be concluded is that no crisis was actually averted. Grants and accounting changes bought Saginaw a one year increase in a rating. This is why every community should be doing a three to five year forecast to show what their real fiscal health is.