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Kzoo city manager, commissioners set priorities

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - City leaders are taking a close look at the future of Kalamazoo. They sat down for special meeting Saturday.

They hoped to identify what needs to be worked on over the next two years.

One of the biggest issues facing Kalamazoo is the deficit. City Manager Jim Ritsema say in 2014 it will be $2.9 million with another $5.5 million added to the shortfall over the next five years.

In the Kzoo in Two plan, the city is laying out its priorities over the next two years. The first step is getting the citys finances whipped into shape.

"Theres revenue enhancement discussions, theres cutting and realigning, all of that are needy issues that were going to tackle," Ritsema says.

Then there are goals of improving community involvement and city services.

"Once weve created a healthy city organization, well be in a much better position to lead this community going forward in its greatness," Ritsema says.

City commissioners also added priorities, like looking into getting financial help from the state, sharing services with nearby communities, and battling poverty.

"Forty-seven percent of our kids live below the poverty line, the implications that poverty has, for our workforce, for our housing values, for the health of our community," Commissioner Don Cooney says.

This was the first time the new city manager just hired in November sat down like this with the city commission.

"Any time you deal with the issues were talking about, theres different sides of the story theres different perspective. Its everyone coming together in a meaningful way, having discourse to solve these issues," Ritsema says.