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Feb 22

Putting Pen To Paper

Comments (0) 12:00 AM posted by admin |

In an effort to try and relax and stop thinking about the whole Ypsilanti insolvency thing, I tried going out to dinner. I wanted to go to the Silent Cat Bikini Bar at 16 North Huron Street, but much to my disappointment, it hasn’t opened for business yet. The Silent Cat Bikini Bar is the new establishment going in where Martini Alfredo’s is currently located. I’m not one hundred percent sure what kind of place it will be, but with a name like Silent Cat Bikini Bar, I’m guessing the theme will combine all the cute and cuddly qualities of kittens with all the cute and cuddly qualities of scantily clad women.Or at least that’s what I’m hoping the Silent Cat Bikini Bar will become.

Either that, or a nice Polish restaurant.

So with my plans for a meal ruined, I’m stuck thinking about what things will be like when I’m wandering home some night after dining at the Silent Cat Bikini Bar with the City’s street lights having been turned off in an attempt to save money. I’m wondering if I would carry a sack full of door knobs or an athletic sock filled with nickels for protection in this darkened Utopia.

I usually don’t publish stuff from other web sites, but this gem from a competitor’s web site really caught my eye. It was posted by Ward 3 Ypsilanti Councilmember Brian Filipiak. He wrote:

Perhaps we should have voted on the income tax already – but Council didn’t feel as if there was a good chance of it passing, so we removed it as an option. I’m pushing to get it put on the November ballot, so at least the voters of the city can tell us if they are willing to give that a try – it would buy us an additional 8 years of time, but is not a permanent fix.

Allow me to correct something here. City Council was all set to vote on the income tax ordinance at the August 2, 2005 Council Meeting, but they tabled the motion. They didn’t table it because of public outcry. It was removed from the agenda before Audience Participation and the minutes from the meeting prove that to be true. They tabled it because they didn’t have the votes to pass it. Councilmember Barry LaRue was on vacation meaning there were only six Council Members present. Had they voted on it then, it would have been a 3-3 tie and it would have never gotten on the ballot.

Regardless of the actual happenings at that meeting, more than six months have passed and we have nothing to show for it. Have City officials organized marches on Lansing? No. Have City officials started letter writing campaigns? No. Has City Manager Ed Koryzno built alliances with City Managers in other cities like Royal Oak, Mount Clemens, and Warren that are in the same financial dire straits as Ypsilanti? No. All we hear about are the “invisible” cuts. If I hear about how the City cut the Recreation Department back in 2003 one more time, my head is going to explode. I get it already. And don’t get me wrong, I appreciate it. But it’s time to start giving examples of how they’re working towards a solution and not just making difficult cuts.

All it takes is a nicely worded form letter and a link to the list of emails for our senators and representatives. Call the Governor too. She can be reached at 517.335.7858.

Cue the music. You saw this coming from a mile away.

22 February, 2002Representative [insert name here]
[insert address here] House Office Building
P.O. Box 30014
Lansing, MI 48909-7514

Dear Rep. [insert name here],

I am writing you this letter to ask for your help is reforming the Municipal Finance Model so that fully developed cities such as Ypsilanti are able to properly fund essential city services such as Police, Fire, Public Works, and Recreation.

Many older communities are on the brink of failure because of the structural way cities are funded. Many mature communities throughout Michigan are being forced to resort to drastic measures in order to balance their budgets. Mount Clemens cut their recreation department. Warren laid-off 40 firefighters. Detroit closed the Belle Isle Aquarium and is considering closing the Detroit Zoo. Royal Oak investigated selling their city hall in order to raise revenue. Even Ann Arbor studied the impact of an income tax.

Currently here in Ypsilanti we are struggling with a $462K deficit for the 2006-07 fiscal year. Our City Council is debating cutting staff from both the police and fire departments, laying off planning staff, eliminating the subsidy the City pays to the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority to provide bus service to Ypsilanti, as well as closing parks and allowing them to go fallow. The deficit increases to $707K next year meaning even more radical cuts in service will follow.

The interaction between Proposal A and the Headlee roll-back results in a loss of new revenue for cities such as Ypsilanti. The growth rate on the taxable value of property is capped. Revenue generated from property taxes now grows more slowly than expenditures. Ninety-six percent of Ypsilanti is developed. We do not have the ability to create new revenue through development because we are built up. This, combined with the fact that the State has cut the amount of State Shared Revenue by 20% since the 2000-01 fiscal year, cripples communities. As expenditures rise and revenues fall, we will be forced to eliminate quality of life services.

I am begging you to help save Michigan’s cities. House Bill 4466 (2005) has been dying in committee since last year. This bill has the power to allow communities to capture the “pop-up” in property taxes when a property is sold. By ignoring the systemic problem of how cities are funded, more cities will be forced into receivership by the State. Michigan deserves better.

I look forward to hearing from you on this issue.

Regards,

[insert name here]

This isn’t as cool as the petition to preserve Ypsi bus service, but it’s a start.

What I’m expecting from each of you is that you copy and paste the text above and email it to the representative and senator of your choice. I suggest Craig DeRoche and Ken Sikkema since they are the Speaker of the House and Senate Majority Leader, respectively.

Man, now I’m just fired up. More than ever, I could really use some galumbki and pierogies served to me by a woman in a French-cut carrying a kitten right about now.

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