Sunday, September 27, 2009

Open Letter to the Troy Michigan City Council

My new hometown, the community in which I live and work, is facing a major budgetary shortfall. There are a number of reasons for this, including political shortsightedness. A group of clergy, of which I'm a part, decided to write a letter to the Council, calling on them to take the step of communicating the reality of this crisis and what can be done. That letter is as follows, with no other editorializing on my part.

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To the Members of the Troy City Council:

As religious leaders who are privileged to serve congregations that have a deep and abiding concern for the community’s welfare, and who enter conversations concerning matters of state with great caution, we believe that we must raise our voices in response to the proposed cuts in city services. We raise our voices at this time, because we believe in the common good of all who live and work in this city that we call home. We recognize the seriousness of the projected revenue shortfalls, and recognize the Council’s duty to address them in wise fashion. As clergy we understand this issue all too well, for our own congregations have to deal with the economy’s effect on our communities of faith.


Nonetheless, we believe that the proposed cuts in services and personnel are short sighted and detrimental to the health of this community. This is a community that prides itself on being one of the safest and most diverse communities in the state. It is noted for its schools and its services. The Troy library is a bustling center of activity. Its parks are full of activities for people of all ages, but especially for its children and youth. The Community Center, Nature Center, and Museum offer other important opportunities to gather as community and to explore the history and environment of the area. As for the Community Affairs office, which has already been stripped of personnel, it is a key point of communication between the city and its constituents.


When we look at the city of Troy, we see a rather young community, one without a traditional downtown. And thus, the very sites being considered for closure are the very places that bind the community together. It is the very sites that face closure that provide the space for us to come together as a community in all of our diversity. Without these common settings this city becomes less attractive to business and to families seeking a place to live. Home values will decrease, and the possibility of crime will increase, especially among the young who will no longer have the kinds of programs that keep body and mind busy and growing.


Indeed, we are concerned that the contemplated cuts will strike deep into the ethos of this community. While some of these services could be privatized or picked up by other entities, once they are gone they will be lost. Once gone, the community will lose the kind of common ownership that civically provided services offer. We come back to the fact that we are a diverse community and it is the city government that provides the glue that holds us together. We pray that this is not lost.


There are, of course, alternatives, but these will require political will. It is often impolitic to broach the issue of increased taxes and fees, especially during economic downturns. But we believe that if the issues before us are clearly explained, and that the people of this city were to understand that the long term value of their community is at stake, then they will be willing to take the step of providing support.


Therefore, we wish to encourage the City Council to do all due diligence, but then take the necessary steps to bring the community together to maintain and develop the kinds of programs, services, and opportunities that make for a safe and healthy community. As religious leaders we pledge ourselves to do what we can to further this goal.


Respectfully,


Rev. Robert Cornwall

Central Woodward Christian Church


Rev. Hal Weemhoff

First United Methodist Church


Rev. Lynda Liles

Fellowship United Methodist Church


Rev. Jack L. Mannschreck

Big Beaver United Methodist Church


Rev. Judy McMillan

First Presbyterian Church


Rev. Johnny Liles

Fellowship United Methodist Church

Pastor Talitha Pennington

Community of Christ, Troy Oaks


Rev. Charlotte Sommers
Northminster Presbyterian Church

6 comments:

Michael Westmoreland-White said...

I hope this is published in Troy's local paper and leads to interviews on the local news, etc. It'll be hard to get the public behind the alternatives. People have the strange notion that they can have low taxes and full services. User fees are hidden taxes (and usually regressive), but, for some reason, are easier to get the political will to pass.

Anonymous said...

It’s really absurd to think they really intend to close these services. It would take 10x the savings realized to re-start them in the future- and the cost in between would be immeasurable. I have to think they don’t have the nerve to ask what is needed, and they hope, under the surface, that the public will decide for them. I live just South of Troy, in Clawson. We just voted to EXPAND our fine library THIS YEAR in a special proposal. Our city’s small and its people average equal if not lower in income. It makes zero sense. What are they NOT cutting? Surely they intend to get a public consensus of some kind? Do they think they’d get a good selling price for these facilities? I think not. Really tells the many volunteers who helped develop these programs how valued the city heads thinks they are. David Mc

p.s. You can add my comments to the local newspapers if you wish.

Age Less said...

The Troy Leadership Coalition is sponsoring a "Save Troy Rally" at the Community Center at 7 pm on Tuesday, October 20th. There will be community leaders, as well as three of the candidates running for City Council. Please join us.

Age Less said...

The Troy Leadership Coalition is sponsoring a "Save Troy Rally" on Tuesday, October 20th at 7 pm. It will take place at the Troy Community Center. Local leaders and three candidates for City Council will be in attendance. Please join us.

troymich said...

I was given a "GAG" order from my CITY..and NOW everything collected over 45 years..on TROY,.,will be enter in COURT papers..and ALL things become PUBLic..BY the CITY of TROY.,.

Anonymous said...

now I sacred the WHOLE CLawson POlice department,the RATS r running in circles