The Center for Michigan’s highly acclaimed Bridge Report revealed this week that dozens of Michigan cities are facing serious to devastating financial shortages in the foreseeable future. Bridge reported financial viability scores provided by Auburn Hills data consultant Munetrix. Much of the cities’ problems result from a perfect storm: years of increasing pension and health care obligations, in many cases unfunded; coupled with consistent decreases in funding from state revenue sharing. Of course, a decade of shrinking employment exacerbates the issue.
On a scale from 0 (indicating the best financial status) to 10 (meaning severe financial crisis), Greenville, Belding, Stanton, Carson City and Montcalm County all scored at the 0 to 1 level. Much of West Michigan fared equally well. Southeast Michigan has the most trouble, with the city of Lansing also faltering.
So despite the announcement this week of Greenville city budget cuts in services and staff, Greenville is not in trouble. We are far from the dire straits facing other cities even considering previous plant closings and lingering unemployment in the area. Do budget cuts hurt? Of course they do. But we’ve got a lot going for us.
Greenville is a conservative community, and the city is managed in a matching style.
The city of Greenville’s employee benefit obligations have been controlled because of defined contribution labor agreements and/or employee contributions to retirement benefits.
When United Solar left us, they left behind a couple of hundred million dollar state-of-the-art factories, and a labor force trained in new production technologies and plenty of good labor relations.
Those are big pluses that could well bring future dividends.
We are fortunate for good local government. If there’s another light at the end of the tunnel for Greenville, it’s not an approaching train. Certainly that’s good, except the analogy leads us to another fact: Factories bring more jobs. Factories need accessibility for freight hauling, and we lack adequate highway capacity in and out of the area. For that, we’ll need some help from our friends in Lansing.
Editorial opinions are the consensus of The Daily News editorial board.