One of the toughest parts of running a city these days is stretching dollars that are already paper thin. Paper is only so thick and there’s no question that at some point, all that pulling and tugging is going to produce cracks, rips and holes in our city services. I’m all for government transparency but I don’t think this is what the pundits had in mind.
It turns out that the laws of physics apply to local government, and for every action there is an equal and opposed reaction — which in good times means that we might lose a little depth in what we do in the community, but still, nothing gets left behind.
However, in tough times, a decision to pull the bed sheet further one way or the other is likely going to leave us exposed somewhere. And in the City’s case that exposure might mean potholes don’t get filled as fast or hours of operation are cut back. No matter how might try to spin it, it still comes up as an erosion of City services.
The great recession has left both the city customers and city service providers feeling frustrated. At the very time when people most need city assistance as a safety net, the city’s net is smaller and thinner than it’s ever been before. That may be temporarily ok in some areas of city services but it’s definitely not ok in the arena of public safety.
People might be willing to let the clock roll a little longer on a pothole being filled but when you dial 911 there is no time to spare, ever, no matter how bad the economy may be. That’s the approach we’ve taken as a city — pushing limited resources around to make sure that public safety has no gaps. Part of our ability to do that comes from talking directly with our customer base — Kent residents.
Earlier this year the Public Safety Director, the Police Chief, and Fire Chief began an effort to reach out to the community to talk all matters of public safety. By design this has been a 2 way information exchange, with the City laying out the realities of securing public safety in this economic climate and the residents offering input into what is most important in city neighborhoods and on city streets. Out of that mix we hope to be able to continue to meet the critical public safety needs by keeping our focus on what city residents need the most.
Here’s the notice for the next Public Safety Citizens Advisory Committee meeting where these conversations are sure to continue:
Dear Safety Director’s Community Advisory Committee Members,
Thanks to all of you who were available to attend the July meeting, in which we reviewed a lot of the budgetary concerns of the city, and how they may impact the Fire and Police Departments. I know that we discussed a wide range of items and concepts in a brief amount of time, but I hope you could get some sense of the concern we have in order to continue to provide high levels of service
Our next meeting is scheduled for October 19. To continue our discussion of local safety services, we will present to you the programs and concepts that will be incorporated into the police department’s community outreach programs during the next two years. These are primarily our programs to work with the neighborhoods, and with resident groups. These are the programs that enable the department to create deeper, more meaningful relationships with many of the residents and businesses in the community. Many of these programs have been funded through various grant funds, which have been programmed in this fashion as one of the most effective means to serve the community.On the second page of this letter, you will see a list of the programs that will be covered in the discussion the morning of the meeting. We’re looking forward to see all of you at the Fire Department training room at 7:30 AM.
James A Peach James A. Williams William Lillich
Police Chief Fire Chief Safety Director
Future meeting date:
December 21, 2010 Portage Area Fire & EMS Study group “Blended Services Report”