In January the City Commissioners of Grand Rapids unveiled the list of comments and suggestions they had received from the citizens of or fair city for how to deal with the budget shortfall we are facing. Over 700 individual suggestions were recorded for consideration by the commissioners. Many of them were not helpful since they could not be implemented without the change of state laws. But others were considered viable and were submitted for further consideration.
The ones that stand out are those which call for more cooperation between church and civic groups and the city itself. For example, there are various clergy associations in the city where pastors gather regularly to gain some insights into each other’s ministries. These could be a place where pastors and city leaders could meet to work out some mutually agreeable processes for dealing with the social effects that will surely come to our community when the budget ax falls. One cannot cut the police force without the members of churches being adversely affected where they live. Another suggestion calls for churches to adopt a park in the area of their church building. While these are considered viable, one wonders how significant an impact it will make on the overall city budget.
The one thing that is missing in the report that the city commissioners have produced is a way for anyone to know if any of these ideas will save our city a million dollars or more. The ideas are simply that. While it is important to generate these ideas, it is equally important to make sure the ideas will actually accomplish something in the budget. It would seem that a public/non-profit/ NGO/religious spirit of cooperation could be fostered so that some good can come from the current crisis. A look at the city's report on the crisis will assist you in knowing what is on the table. Let’s hope our city commissioners will have the political will to find real solutions rather than choosing ones which only aggravate the population into accepting more tax increases.