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Jun 04

Where Every Man In A State Has A Vote, Brutal Laws Are Impossible

Comments (1) 7:00 PM posted by admin |

So today was the big day when we voted on what language should be put in an income tax ordinance.

Well, we really didn’t vote.

Voting would imply accountability and that’s not what this was about.

Typcially Council does things via resolution. That’s how we set policy. We don’t do it with a wink and a nod. During agenda approval, I made a motion that we have a resolution that sets the variables for the proposed income tax. I didn’t even get a second.

Last year, the Council seated at the time voted on a resolution that directed the City Manager not to have staff work on the language for a proposed ordinance on urban chickens. When I proposed forming my fire study group earlier this year, I was told I needed a resolution. Suggesting we needed a resolution to set the variables for the proposed income tax was hardly an unreasonable request.

The long and short of it is that the language for the ordinance that we didn’t vote on that will appear in the Ann Arbor News is for an income tax that will be 1% for residents, 0.5% for non-residents, a $1000 exemption, and deductions for over 65, blind, deaf, partially and fully-disabled. Should it be adopted by the voters, the income tax would begin on July 1st of 2008 and sunset on June 30th of 2014.

Although I am against an income tax, I tried to advocate for the lower-income families and get the fairest proposal possible.

I recommended a $3400 individual deduction, but as previously mentioned it wasn’t adopted by our non-vote form of voting. I believe that if we wanted to send the message that we cared about lower-income families we should set the individual deduction at $3400. If we wanted to maximize revenue, we should set it at $600. The difference between $1000 and $600 is $4 per deduction.

FOUR LOUSY DOLLARS.

That means that a family of eight would save $32 more dollars per year under the proposal adopted by everyone on Council but me (Council member Richardson was absent) compared to a $600 individual deduction. That’s $2.67 a month per family or $0.33 per person per month if you’re doing math at home. The Blue Ribbon Committe on City Finances stated in their report that “the regressive impacts of a potential income tax on lower- income and renter esidents should be minimized. That is why we recommend a higher exemption level than he minimum.” The $1000 exemption was a hollow, token gesture.

I recommended adding the partially and fully-disabled deductions. To my great surprise and pleasure, it was adopted.

I also recommended that since Ypsilanti has such a large number of people living below the poverty line, we exempt the first $15K of income per person. 25.8% of all individuals living in Ypsilanti live below the poverty level. 18.3% of families living in Ypsilanti earn less than $15K per year. 28.0% of all households in Ypsilanti are below the poverty level That’s a far more significant gesture than $2.67 a month for that family of eight. I won’t kid you, this would exempt the first $15K of income on me and you and the 0.9% of Ypsilanti households earning more than $200K, but it’s the cost of the greater good.

Finally, I recommended no sunset provision since the sunset provision proposed by the rest of council calls for a renewal vote in November of 2013. That date was picked since there are no Council races planned that year. Council has the ability to revoke ordinances at any time given enough votes. A sunset clause is another hollow, token gesture designed to trick voters into thinking the income tax is only temporary.

The language was finalized without a vote.

Now we’re ready to roll.

The first reading of this proposed ordinance will be on June 19th.

I’m pretty sure we’ll actually vote on it this time around.

1 Comment »

  1. Comment by rodneyn
    5 June, 2007 @ 9:40 PM


    “The language was finalized without a vote.”

    Without a vote, no action was taken. As you mentioned, this decision without a decision is a new low for our elected representatives. As least in the past, the Council had enough spine to actually put their vote on the record.

    What I witnessed early Monday morning from Mayor Farmer, and Councilmembers Filipiak, Gawlas, and Nickels was sad and pathetic. If this is how our elected representatives are going to behave, perhaps it is the City of Ypsilanti, not those rural Michigan townships, that ought to be stripped of its home rule authority.

    I surely hope at some point the City leadership will stop betting the farm on a lucky seven roll of the income tax dice. If the Council couldn’t take a simple vote on publication language, why should any resident put their financial lives on the line by voting for this boondoggle?

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