CCOP issues air of Caution and Challenge as city begins budgetary process
August 11, 2010
15 Citywide leaders of Camden Churches Organized for People,including newly appointed Co-Chair Marian Jones of St. Bartholomew's, met last week to look at Mayor Redd's proposed departmental 2011 budget with the proposed 24% cuts across all departments and Camden's economy in general.
"The problem we are facing with a $28 million deficit is not an economic crisis but a value crisis," commented Rosa Ramiez. She added, "Budgets everywhere are bad and until we look at the real problems affecting not only Camden's budget but New Jersey's and America's budget, we will always be in this mess."
The team of CCOP leaders met and looked at Camden's economy, using a number of articles and reports generated over the years by groupd like CAMConnect. Leading the discussion however was the quote from Jim Wallis of Sojourners Magazine, "budgets are moral documents." It is this idea that lay and clergy leaders are looking at the root causes of our budget and want to challenge everyone involved in the budgetary process, "we can't simply be looking around City Hall for loose change, we need to look at the bigger picture and ask the harder questions, making budget cuts is too easy," explained Rosa.
Marian Jones added, "With this budget process, we are concerned about any cuts to basic city services that will degrade an already crippeled system." Marian Jones added, "In addition to cuts, we must look at both how we can generate the revenue necessary to run the city and at the ways in which money can be saved and not wasted."
Rosa Ramirez shared,"It's good leadership for Mayor Redd to be taking a lead on the budget, there have been too many years where Camden's budget is not decided upon until the last day of the fiscal year." Rosa added, "Our concern however is that we want to be able to see the entire budget not just the budgets for the departments, this way we can see the full picture of the money coming in and going out."
Marian and other CCOP leaders attended the Mayor's recent small group sessions that went over her 2011 budget. At the meeting Mayor Redd offered a challenge and a request for residents to seriously consider the budget and to think of creative and out of the box ideas to help. Marian Jones shared this last week and leaders are taking it to heart. "We don't want band-aids, we want long term solutions," shared Marian. Solutions like what the organizing team in Cramer Hill did on Wednesday August 11th (link to story).
Marian concluded the groups thinking by sharing, "Camden and all of NJ needs to seriously consider how we do business, it is not about the 2011 deficit, or any past deficits, it is about our states' values and what we feel is important. If we don't start the conversation there chances are next year this time there will be another article like this one."