Counterintuitive Dayton budget priorities

The City of Dayton is finally counting its pennies- and trying to manage a shrinking budget with a shrinking income.

However- the direction Tim Riordan and the city commission are taking is a going-out-of-business plan- instead of a process improvement strategy.

The city has cut more than $21 million from the budget since 2008 and will collect as much or less in income and property tax revenue than it did nearly 20 years ago, officials said. The economic crisis is the major reason cited, but the city will also feel the full brunt of NCR’s departure next year.Years of budget cuts have severely limited the city’s economic growth with money being taken from economic development to pay for services residents demand, Riordan said.

via More budget cuts for city of Dayton.

The services that they are cutting, or charging more for- the pools that they are closing- the reduced staffing of the safety forces are all the things that shouldn’t be cut or price raised. What they fail to realize in city hall is that “economic development” isn’t something you buy- it’s something you win by scoring top of class by delivering value to all your residents.

Why pay more in income tax to live in neighborhoods that will be perceived as less safe thanks to cuts in fire and police, less fun- due to cuts in parks and rec, and more expensive to live in thanks to higher fees for water, trash and permits? And a school system that’s perceived as one of the worst in the state. Every move they make says go elsewhere- like Kettering that has first-rate schools, parks and rec and safety forces.

If we can’t pick up trash more cheaply than the private companies- it’s time to stop doing it. We should be trying to sell our trash-collecting systems to suburbs, offering them package deals- including taking over their road crews, water delivery, trash collection etc. Unfortunately- we seem to have incompetent leadership in city hall that can’t see that our only hope is to grow our service-delivery capacity and become stronger at doing the basics- instead of trying to be developers (if all the money spent on “Tech Town” over the years had been plowed into basic services we wouldn’t be behind on our paving projects, would we?).

It’s time to focus on the most essential services only and do them perfectly. Schools, Safety, Infrastructure- should be the mantra.

Anything else is just more nails in the coffin.

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