Presentation on theme: "Cuts force cities to scale back leisure programs By Darren A. Nichols / The Detroit News Redford."— Presentation transcript:
Cuts force cities to scale back leisure programs By Darren A. Nichols / The Detroit News Redford Ice Arena is $70,000 over budget.
Recreation Programs Communities across Metro Detroit are scaling back money-losing recreation programs or cutting them altogether to cope with skyrocketing budget deficits. From Utica to Livonia, cities and townships are struggling to provide basic services such as police patrols and garbage collection in the face of a four-year decline in state revenue sharing, coupled with higher health care and pension costs. Community leaders, who already have pared budgets by laying off workers or hiking fees, now say they have no choice but to cut nonessential services. Mount Clemens and Harrison townships already have cut their entire recreation departments. Livonia and Redford townships are looking at ways of scaling back by hiring private managers to run municipal ice rinks. And Dearborn is studying ways to fix its recreation budget before it becomes a problem.
Quality of Life? City leaders acknowledge that quality of life is important, but they grapple with what services to provide when faced with huge deficits and threats of receivership. That leaves many residents worrying that the days of basketball at local gymnasiums or summer camps soon will be a thing of the past. "Everybody has the same kind of problems in the Metro Detroit area. They want safety and welfare first," said Harrison Township resident Nikki McPherson, 61. "They do care (about recreation), but they don't want to put it as a priority. People need to realize it needs to be a priority. "It's something fun, it benefits families, and it's a positive experience for everybody."
Leisure Activities Two years ago, Harrison Township eliminated its Parks and Recreation Department because of budget problems. Last August, residents rejected $170,000 millage request to fund a parks and recreation department. When the department was cut, arts and crafts classes, day camps, cheerleading camps, a youth fishing derby, youth tennis, boating safety classes, concerts in the park, basketball camps, floor hockey and more than a dozen other programs were killed. Residents are fighting back. Last Thursday, they organized a grassroots fund-raising walk to resurrect the Parks and Recreation Department. This is the second time residents have organized such an effort.
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