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Amy Traub

State Budgets Balanced on the Back of Cities

States are unable to run deficits. Racked by budget shortfalls and unwilling to raise taxes, many states react by passing the buck to the cities that provide direct services to make communities function. The result? Rapid disappearance of the most basic public goods at the local level. An article in today’s Detroit News details the fallout in the particularly hard-hit state of Michigan:

Pontiac has cut nearly two-thirds of its police force the past five years, with more layoffs announced last week.

Wayne city officials are considering outsourcing police, fire and emergency medical service staff to close a budget deficit. And in Beverly Hills, officials say they'll shrink the police force and end library service if voters reject a millage hike in November.

Across Metro Detroit, cities and villages face a growing financial squeeze as the state's economic slump grinds on. Declining property values mean lower tax collections, while towns are getting less and less aid from the state -- revenue sharing has been cut $4 billion in the past decade.

The article goes on to describe how the town of Troy will close its library next year. As another local municipality struggles to avoid further layoffs to its police force, a resident notes: “Response time is so important to us ... because it can be a matter of life and death.”

Thanks to Progressive States Network for pointing me toward this article.

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Posted at 10:47 AM, Sep 20, 2010 in Cities
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