We are all in this together
The city of Allen Park is inching closer to a state takeover. Last week, Allen Park voters rejected a tax increase that would help the struggling city meet a $2.6 million a year loan obligation. The city is operating in deficit because of declining property tax revenues and is more than $30 million in debt because of a failed film studios project. This was the second time voters rejected a tax increase.
City officials said the tax increase was needed to avoid an emergency financial manager. In accordance with Public Act 4, officials expect the state to step in shortly.
Just last year, Allen Park was recognized as one of America’s Best Small Cities by Money magazine. It is a mostly white suburb hard hit by the region’s industrial slow down. Allen Park may be the first majority white city to join Flint, Pontiac and Benton Harbor as a city in financial emergency.
For so long, pundits, commentators and arrogant public officials have led the public to believe financial emergencies exist only in Black cities — because of corruption and gross mismanagement. Many took comfort in the image of bungling Black representation.
This has led many to the current state of disillusion.
One resident told the Detroit News he didn’t want the city to be seen as having the same problems as cities like Benton Harbor and Detroit. “We just had this one or two or three problems … Everything else in the city is going fine.”
Irrational thinking, which is certainly not isolated to one resident, will not help any of us out of our current state of affairs. We must all come to terms with the realities of America’s economic decline and reconcile our behavior and policy to this fact.
Policymakers must realize we can’t starve one city to feed another. This history and habit has caught up with us. Until we realize this, Detroit’s problems will continue to spill over into the inner-ring suburbs and even farther out as time progresses.
This history and habit has caught up with us. To begin to rectify the problems for cities such as Detroit, consider reinstating the residency requirement and instituting a regional or statewide mass transit tax to create a functioning, world-class transit system.
Instead of continuously cutting state education budgets, reinvest in education and innovation.
Develop policy, such as a moratorium on foreclosures, that will help stabilize neighborhoods and protect residents against banks that refuse to negotiate.
For the last 50 years, people have fled, hoping the move to the suburbs will protect against the hard realities of our state’s failing policies. The problems facing financially distressed cities are fast approaching all neighborhoods. It’s only happening in Detroit, Benton Harbor, Pontiac and Allen Park first.