Thursday, April 12, 2018

Harvey needs to figure out how to continue offering public safety services

It will be interesting to see how suburban Harvey manages to keep its public safety services – as in police and fire – operating at a time when it can’t even pretend to have the money needed to pay for them.
Is Harvey really 'rising?'

Many of the financially-challenged municipalities that comprise the greater Chicago area have budgets that are primarily police and fire departments, with little else left for any of the amenities that might make for an interesting community in which a person would want to live, by choice.

BUT HARVEY HAS delved down to a lower level. It really doesn’t have money left to juggle around its budget so as to keep things running as usual.

That is why the south Cook County municipality is facing layoffs – some 18 firefighters and 13 police officers already have been let go, with more cuts likely to be made in coming days. That’s about half of the existing police and fire departments – which I’m sure already felt like they were understaffed.

Now I’m sure some people are going to think, “Who cares?” They don’t live in Harvey and may not know anyone who ever has. They may think this has little or no effect on them.

But on one level, it does. The reality is that suburban fire departments are all tied into each other. They offer assistance to each other.

Fewer officers will be wearing ...
MEANING ANY SHORTFALL in Harvey means that fire departments in surrounding areas will wind up picking up the slack. They’ll have to answer the calls for assistance that come out of Harvey, which could detract personnel who otherwise would be focusing on protecting their home communities.

I’ve already heard officials in those surrounding towns and villages say how they’re having their attorneys check into the law to see how obligated they are to respond to Harvey. Because I wouldn’t be surprised to learn Harvey figures its neighbors will fill the gap in providing firefighting services.

Meaning we’re bound to hear some accusations of selfish suburbs refusing to fulfill their end of public safety agreements. Although there are those who think it is Harvey refusing to meet its financial obligations that have brought its financial problems on itself.

... these emblems
For it seems that Illinois state government, in the form of state Comptroller Susana Mendoza, has withheld nearly $1.5 million in assorted state funds that Harvey theoretically was entitled to.

THE HARVEY POLICE Pension Fund filed a lawsuit, and a court ordered money withheld, because the city hasn’t been making the payments that ensure its future police retirees will have their retirement plans covered.

The suburb’s Fire Pension Fund is planning to take similar legal action to ensure that the city eventually provides the funding it was supposed to do.

Which, of course, means that people aligned with long-time Mayor Eric Kellogg are now more than willing to blame Mendoza for the problem, while others will say it is Kellogg who’s to blame for Harvey’s financial struggles.

If you get the impression that a situation has evolved in which everybody is blaming everybody else, and that nobody is willing to take responsibility for the very real problem that has developed, that would be the one absolute truth.
This vision of Harvey is a long-distant memory, if not fantasy for modern residents

SO WHAT’S GOING to become of this situation? I fear it will be nothing.

Because Harvey has become one of those communities that many people are more than willing to pay little attention to. They may think of it solely as the place where the one-time Dixie Square mall sat vacant for some three decades before it was finally torn down – and may be better remembered for being used in a scene from The Blues Brothers that made it look better on film than it ever did in real life.

Harvey has become a community where some people can talk about a history in which it was an intriguing blue-collar community, but one that has devolved in recent decades to the point where modern-day residents have no recollection of “the good ol’ days.”

They think a community lacking in the basic services that usually define “quality of life” is the norm. In which case, they may think the lack of police and fire is somehow acceptable. Which is the saddest commentary of all.


No comments: