Towns on the Teat, Too.
This article is a few weeks old, but I’ve been holding on to it because the statement contained therein really requires philosophical correction:
One by one, mayors and municipal managers from Cumberland to Westerly told the House Finance Committee on Thursday that the midyear aid cuts proposed by Governor Carcieri will wreak havoc on local services and tax rates, shifting a state budget crisis onto the backs of municipal employees and property owners already feeling the bite of previous state-aid cuts.
If the towns and cities have allowed themselves to rely heavily on the state for financial support and the state is having a budget crisis, then the crisis isn’t shifted, it’s shared. We should expect our municipal leaders to be more self-motivated, active, and demonstrative than welfare queens.
What really irks me about the attitude expressed in the article, though, is the degree to which government operates as if behind a wall of glass. Mayors and managers shouldn’t be wasting time on their knees at the state house. Even were groveling successful in staving off cuts to “state aid” this year, circumstances are only going to be more dire in the next budget unless things change dramatically in Rhode Island.
In other words, officials should be turning to the people who elected them (or who elected the people who appointed them), explaining what the state must do to turn things around, and more importantly, encouraging residents to get involved — not to join in the groveling, but to run for office and join taxpayer groups and the like. After all, they pay the taxes whether it’s to the town or the state, and when revenue improves for the state, it will improve for the municipalities, as well.
Of course, this assumes that municipal leaders have a clue about what might save Rhode Island — an optimistic assumption if ever there was one.