State Boundary Commission Hearing - June 20, 2012
Travis Randolph, Chairman, Consolidated Government Committee
Again, I am Travis Randolph, chairman of the Consolidated Government Committee.
I would like to begin by reminding us all that consolidation originated, not with the CGC, but with the Tri-Community Plan endorsed by all three governments 23 years ago.
With the help of some of my friends, we’ve been doing our best to keep track of what’s been said today. Without addressing every comment with which we might disagree, here are some statements we think merit a response now.
By the end of the day tomorrow, we hope to have a full list on our website.
(Editor's note: A more complete point-by-point fact-based rebuttal will wait until the CGC receives the recorded transcript of the meeting. Once this transcript is in hand, the most egregious misstatements of fact by those opposing consolidation will be addressed on the CGC website.)
So, in no particular order…
A couple of folks said something like: “Plante Moran and Michigan State University used unaudited numbers in their analyses concerning consolidation.”
The speaker was referring to a pair of studies conducted four years ago.
First off, Plante Moran is a first-class accounting and business consulting firm. Its reputation for integrity and accuracy is unquestioned.
The two studies the speaker referred to are not the same two studies that established the $500,00 per-year cost savings. These studies were conducted in just the last two months.
Second, both of the latest Plante Moran cost-savings studies were vetted by a citizen-attorney and CPA who was independent of our group. In fact, he was the treasurer for the group opposing consolidation.
Last of all, every historical number used by Plante Moran in their analyses came from the same place: The F65 filings required by the state of Michigan.
We heard: “There is no government EVIP grant application ready to go.”
That’s true, as far as it goes. Because only the governments can apply for an EVIP grant, and they have clearly demonstrated—most recently today—they won’t study consolidation, or engage in reasoned dialogue on the subject.
We have invited both governments to join us in the study of consolidation, and we extend that invitation again. Most of all, we ask the governments to support voters having their right to choose their form of government.
We heard a couple of times that consolidation would increase the size of government.
The only reliable real-world information on savings from consolidation comes from Iron River. And the savings there are real, and significant. Their government was right-sized by consolidation. One of the major sources they cite for those savings was "Combin(ing) all city offices thereby eliminating duplication including council members, managers, clerks, treasurers, office support staff, assessor, and legal counsel." That’s real efficiency. Precisely the sort of savings upon which Plante Moran's projections were based. From the real world. Not from some Wall Street Journal article.
One official said you never hear about how to pay for the costs of consolidation.
Actually, the CGC's opening remarks addressed this point directly, again with real-world experience: The officials up in Onekama estimated their startup costs as best they could, and filed for an EVIP grant. And they were awarded $355,000. That’s what happens when governments really get behind the study of consolidation.
We heard: “It’s not broke.”
Wasting $500,000 a year is “broke.” Not having a coordinated economic development plan, or a coordinated community healthcare plan, or coordinated zoning, or a single vision for the future of our community is “broke.” Consolidating our two governments into one will address every one of these broken aspects to our current two-government system.
We heard that the two local governments had sometime back “shifted into high gear and analyzed all the costs.”
No such study or analysis has ever been made public, posted on either city’s website, or otherwise distributed. If the studies exist, they are public property and should be released… today.
(Editor's note: To our knowledge, no such studies were released after the hearing.)
We heard the CGC criticized for different cost-savings projections.
Rather than generate a high estimate of savings and debate back and forth about service cuts, the latest CGC-Plante Moran studies aimed to present the absolute minimum savings. The $500,000 savings number comes from eliminating only municipal overhead. No service cuts were projected. None.
Someone said something like: “Consolidation won’t save money.”
That's an unsupported opinion; the fact is this: The only consolidation ever done in Michigan is saving $1.3 million a year.
We heard the joint planning commission cited as an example of good, cooperative government.
Here’s the fact: The joint planning commission just went 14 months without being able to get a quorum of its members from the jurisdictions to come to their meetings. So nothing got done… and a year went by.
Someone said the CGC is only interested in savings.
As Bobbie Gaunt said in our earlier remarks, savings—sizeable as they are—are not the primary reason to consolidate. The reason to consolidate is the simple fact that we are one community, and as long as we have two governments, our one community is fated to go in two directions.
I think that'll be enough for now. Thank you.