Kalamazoo County Approves $500K for Homeless
Many of us are aware of the protest that was held for about a month at Bronson Park in Kalamazoo.
In response to that protest the Democrats on the Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners just approved an additional $500,000 for housing assistance next year.
According to an article in Mlive the budget amendment was introduced by Commissioner Kevin Wordelman. The county will be taking that $500,000 from the county’s delinquent tax fund account.
Commissioner Kevin Wordelman was quoted in the article stating:
We should all recognize this is not nearly enough money to solve this problem in our community…This would be a drop in the bucket, but I think this is something we are able to do. Given the rather urgent need of people in our community, now is the time to act.
The question I have is why start throwing taxpayer dollars at this issue if there has not been enough time to truly investigate and study the homeless situation in Kalamazoo to determine what is really needed to address this issue. Is spending more taxpayer dollars the answer?
Kalamazoo City Commissioner Jack Urban stated that:
The encampment in Bronson Park is a symptom of a larger problem…It really requires, I believe, to be addressed by all the governments in the county. It's not just a city of Kalamazoo problem.
Democrat Chair Stephanie Moore stated that she tried to convince Commissioner Wordelman to wait on the vote to allow more discussion, she felt the decision to spend this $500,000 was being rushed. Chair Moore even went so far as to accuse her fellow Democrat Commissioner Wordelman of trying to grab headlines and score political points.
Democrat Chair Stephanie Moore was quoted in the article stating:
It's not easy to make something out of this mess we have going on up here…I don't want people at the table blindly just doing stuff. We have to be strategic, we have to be thoughtful.
Ms. Moore is exactly right, before these commissioners spend taxpayer dollars they should really attempt to determine what is at the core of the issue and would this $500,000 be spent correctly or would they just be throwing good money after bad.
Kalamazoo Treasurer Mary Balkema said the spending is irresponsible, she stated:
If we take too much out, come next May I will not have enough money to send to the (local taxing) unit
Ms. Balkema went on to say that the county is taking too much out of the fund. She calculated an $800,000 surplus, but $1.5 million was already allocated to the general fund. This additional $500,000 will increase that amount to $2 million taken from the delinquent tax revolving fund after including the new housing assistance.
Commissioner Wordelman said the emergency is already here and then the kicker is when he stated that:
Mary (Balkema) has been sitting on surplus of cash and the board has not touched it...The reality is those are public funds and it's our job to spend it. I'm not comfortable with anyone sitting on a slush fund that big. The most pressing need is resolving our homelessness issues, in the city primarily.
I find it very interesting that he stated that their job as commissioners is to spend our money, do you?