Letters to the Editor – July 9, 2009

Reader addresses budget issues

Dear Editor,

First of all, I would like to say that I think Michael Young has done a great job as Rockford’s City Manager. While other towns in similar size have been struggling or dying out, Rockford appears to be doing well. Like others, I was very concerned for our financial future when Wolverine closed down. I was pleased to read that we will be getting some new retail shops on Ten Mile Road, and I agree that the proposed baseball complex by the WMSC would have a positive impact on our community. I also appreciate all the thought that has gone into the City’s planning, zoning, etc.

However, I don’t think I understand the changes, fully. Will these new businesses help alleviate the taxes and fees that have increased as a result of the factory closing? Specifically, will our water bills see relief from these new additions?

The fee increases have affected everyone, but sometimes it seems like when there is a financial problem, the property owners (residential and business) in Rockford are the first ones to be affected. This worries me when I see more and more houses up for sale, taking longer and longer to sell. I realize that there are many reasons why people leave, but I wonder what will happen to those of us who stay? Will more be expected of us to make up the difference when a budget falls short?

For example, it’s easy to say that a new millage will only cost each homeowner $10 a year, but each one adds up… and there is always the issue of decreasing property values. Luckily, the schools were able to increase their millage without raising taxes this time, but when I read about what they were spending it on, another concern was raised.

Why do we need more sports fields for our school district? Maintenance and improvements to existing fields makes sense, but couldn’t the money that went to multiple fields have been directed to other parts of the schools’ budgets?

Which brings me back to an issue I’ve addressed before: a skate park. Last time I brought it up, I gave the city council a hard time. Now I’m wondering why the school district can’t build one if they are determined to spend so much money on sports-related projects. I’ve been told on several occasions that there are students and faculty who have been trying to organize something, but I never hear anything more.

Some will say I am beating a dead horse, but Rockford is always presented as a community, and that includes the skaters. We’re talking about a group in which the majority is not old enough to drive to a skate park, and not old enough to work, so paying fees isn’t really feasible (allowances are taking a hit, too, when parents have to pay more elsewhere). There is no doubt that we have a large group in Rockford, because anytime I drive around, they are always in sight.

From what I’ve observed, the school and the community have done a great job of supporting many of the youth organizations, from sports teams to academic teams. I am simply asking for another group to be recognized: the skaters. (It would be nice to hear them speak up as well.)

Thanks for your consideration,
Ursula K. Raphael

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