Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Some Suggestions On Where to Find That $500,000

The city council met tonight in an emergency session devoted to Greensboro's recent rash of murders, and instructed city manager Mitch Johnson to find $500,000 in the budget to give to the police department.

In a pinch like this, it's always most tempting to take the money from places where you think you won't rouse much organized opposition, such as in poorer neighborhoods that usually don't have neighborhood associations -- or even very many homeowners. Those places get the bulk of funds from departments like Housing and Community Development.

I think it would be a bad idea to take planning and infrastructure dollars from those neighborhoods, mostly because their already poor civic infrastructure contributes to crime and economic underperformance. Those areas need more money to fight crime, not less.

But we are spending money on some pretty pricey items which -- although they're beautiful -- could take a hit until tax dollars become more plentiful. Here are my picks:

Hagan-Stone Park. It's outside the city limits, where we also maintain a little-used pool. We don't need a city park that's in the county.

Bryan Park golf courses. They're wonderful (I hear), but should a city be paying to maintain championship golf courses when we can't protect our citizens from gang murders? The Gillespie Park course should get us through until crime is under control; the Bryan courses belong in the private sector.

The Botanical Gardens. They're beautiful, expensive, and inessential. Exotic plants or police protection? Hmmmm. I think we can cut back a bit on the plants for a while.


Anonymous said...

Just so's you know. Our P&R Dept is currently in the process of turning over ownership of Hagan Stone to the County.


David Wharton said...

Good! I hadn't read anything about it in the paper.

Is the county going to, like, pay us for the property?

Anonymous said...

David ,Bryan park is currently under private management.I think we should look at Economic development dollars as they seem to be low bang for the buck as well extremely top heavy in administrative costs.But let me also say ( as I have before ) that we don't need more money, we need the leadership to do something unpopular and put more sworn officers in the street and utilize "civilians for admin spots currently held by sworn officers

David Wharton said...

Joe, my understanding is that Bryan park is under private managment, but that the city pays the company to do the management, and the company keeps any profit it makes over and above what the city pays.

If this is the case, I don't think it's a good use of city money.

Billy Jones said...

"Joe, my understanding is that Bryan park is under private managment, but that the city pays the company to do the management, and the company keeps any profit it makes over and above what the city pays."

David, I think you're correct which leads me to ask why is the City stupid enough to pay a company to run the park and keep the profit when the city could be leasing the park to a company and making a profit? Another sweetheart deal I guess.

Billy Jones said...

Hoggard said...

"Just so's you know. Our P&R Dept is currently in the process of turning over ownership of Hagan Stone to the County."

David, I'm very glad to hear that as I'm sure Robbie Perkins and his ilk are scheming on ways to develop Haganstone.

Anonymous said...

Why not drop the Commission on the Status of Women. I think the Human Relations Commisson covers that function.

How about getting help from the Sheriff's Department. City residents pay for the patrol and crime control all over the County, including in Summerfield, Oak Ridge, McLeansville......

Anonymous said...

Has there really been a huge increase in the number of murders? The number for 2006 was 30 and 2005 was 32. Most murders still seem to fall into two categories - domestic dispute or drug/crime dispute. How much can we hope to reduce either of these. The only way to reduce the number of drug murders is to reduce drug use. That would seem a medical/community problem not a police problem.

David Wharton said...

Seven murders in eight days is what's reported. That's a bit unnerving for Greensboro.

Anonymous said...

I understand it may be unnerving but It is not as if these were random crimes or robberies. I think it will be hard for simply an increase in manpower to prevent crimes of passion and/or drug related crimes. As an average citizen I am not really unnerved after I read the context of these crimes. I do not use or deal in drugs or hang out a places that drug dealers frequent, so the odds of me getting murdered are pretty low.

I make these comments just to encourage us to look for a complete solution. Take winston a s an example. After the officer was shot, the kneejerk reaction was to shut the club down. I reality this action would not affect crime in winston one iota. It would be a high profile feel good measure but not an effective one.

David Wharton said...

I think everybody knows (or should know) that the council's action is more about perception than anything else.

They want the public to perceive that they care about crime, and there's nothing wrong with that.

It's also important for the new members of the council to be seen manhandling the city manager a little. Many of them were elected on strong anti-Mitch Johnson feeling, so they're trying to appease that constituency by ostentatiously ordering him around.

That's all fine, though, if it will get more police officers on the street and improve our anti-crime efforts generally.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the late reply, David.

From my understanding, Hagan Stone will get deeded to the County but no money will change hands. I'll check my facts on this, however.

The City will get paid to manage the park as it has been for years, so some savings will be realized there.

The park is slated for some major capitol improvements in the not too distant future. These will be undertaken on the county's nickel (which is, of course, also borne by city taxpayers.

So, no, it won't be any great windfall for city taxpayers.

David Wharton said...

You're kidding me. The city is just giving that property to the county? Surely we must be getting something in return.