Governor Snyder has released plans for encouraging local government consolidation in Michigan (see my previous article). The proposals paint a rosy picture, but are the cities as excited as the governor for these new plans?. Most locales are actually on board with Snyder's ideas. All cities will see a 30% average cut across the board, which is why some cities feel like they will be punished. However, cities that actually consolidate with other municipalities will be rewarded. "The goal here isn't to punish anybody. It's to reward success and reward best practices," insists Snyder (in the article linked above).
While most reports show that cities are up to the challenge Snyder is proposing, many want more specifics. The cities are not opposed to consolidation, but are looking for more concrete rewards as well as advice for following through.
Not every one is thrilled with Snyder's proposal. Although Mayor Bing continues to remain cordial towards Mr. Snyder, he claims that he is worried about what these new policies mean for Detroit. Bing says that the new measures will seriously hinder the rising economic tide that Detroit is currently riding. Others fear that Snyder is setting up a system that makes it easy for him to pull the reigns in whatever direction he pleases, without a form of checks and balances.
In response, Snyder vehemently denies the allegations that he wants to do away with collective bargaining and other economic rights. He frequently states that he is "suggesting reworking but not replacement."
It will be interesting to see if cities start to do what Snyder envisions. Before Snyder's proposal last week some cities, such as Shelby Township and Macomb County, have even begun consolidating and streamlining. Sterling Heights is already sharing their city's library director with the Suburban Library Cooperative, sharing the Troy gun range, sharing parks and recreation services with nearby communities, and partnering with volunteer groups to provide youth athletic programming. Hopefully others will follow suit in the near future, and the state and its people will start to see the benefits from these changes.