I read with interest George Will’s current column on Detroit’s plight and couldn’t mistake the parallels to Delaware County. Although Delaware County’s financial problems are minuscule compared to Motor City, the resemblance is striking.
In March, Detroit’s City Council agreed to 21 stipulations needed for reform. The city council ignored it.
In June, Delaware County was handed a $25,000 study with suggestions to bring the budget in line with revenue streams. It has been largely ignored. One item in the study was acted on, a move towards additional taxes. Fortunately, that was shut down quickly.
Detroit is also in a pickle with their pensions. Delaware County has never really gotten a handle on the sheriff’s pensions.
Detroit has bonds, so does Delaware County. We owe. Will’s column touches on the cost of those bonds should Detroit’s creditors receive pennies on the dollar. It’s possible that future bond issuances may come to municipalities at a higher financial cost.
Detroit has layers of bureaucracy, so does Delaware County. Delaware County, has a population of 120,000 or the size of an average city. Last year voters soundly rejected an attempt to reorganize the county, decrease the layers of government. A campaign of misinformation by both party headquarters was amazing in and of itself. The current mayor donated $5,000.00 out of his campaign coffer to help defeat modernization. His position would have been eliminated. $5,000 from donors is a small price to pay to retain $72,000 salary plus benefits and control over millions of dollars.
Kevyn Orr, appointed to oversee Detroit’s bankruptcy observed “the fact that people had gotten used to the city like this — people were tolerating the abnormal.”
So goes, Delaware County.
I would like to believe the voters would refuse to allow the county to continue in this financial decay, yet every council member retained their positions. One exception, Commissioner Todd Donati was ousted from office, but quickly hired by the City of Muncie. Within months of his appointment, he has indebted the city close to $10 million dollars. When you vote, you’re are not just voting for the person. You are also giving the elected official the power to place people in positions to oversee millions of dollars in spending.
Is it like this everywhere? Possibly. Our neighboring county, Henry, advertises their appointments and interested parties must submit resumes. Take that procedure for what it’s worth.