Comments (2) 12:00 AM posted by admin |
The Ypsilanti City Council has held two visioning sessions in the past month — one on December 16th and on this past Saturday. The final visioning session will be held next Saturday on the 13th of January. All meetings are held at the Haab Health Building on North Huron Street. The public is welcome, but I must warn you, they last forever.
Now from the name, you would expect us to be dreaming up a grand vision for what we want Ypsilanti to be in the next twenty-five years or so. Maybe you weren’t expecting that, but as a newcomer to Council, I have to admit I was expecting a little more. The real gist of the meetings are to set the budget priorities and goals for the City Manager.
This is where it gets wild. We don’t really do that at all.
On December 16th, the City Manager presented what he felt was going to be the project budget outlook forFY2007-08 and the cuts he felt were necessary to achieve a balanced budget. Council didn’t set any priorities. The City Manager didn’t even suggest alternatives. The City needs to cut $250K for next year. In addition, the City Manager would like to give $75K in catch-up raises to non-union employees as well as $25K in training for Staff. All told, $350K worth of cuts need to be made to achieve those goals.
In order to reach a balanced budget, an open secretary’s position will be eliminated from the Clerk’s office, one Public Safety Officer from the Police Department will be eliminated, all recreation subsidies will be cut, and the remaining AATA bus subsidy will be eliminated. The rest of the $350K will be made up by transferring costs for specific DPW work from the General Fund to the Major Streets Fund.
That was it. There wasn’t any choice and we didn’t give any priority. We were simply told this is how it was going to be. I guess we all agreed this was the direction we should take, but there wasn’t a choice to chose another path to solvency.
Again, as a newcomer to City Council, I was expecting a smorgasboard of choices that could make up the deficit. The menu was not very elaborate.
There is $160K to be saved by moving costs to the Major Street Fund. There’s no need to even debate that. All we need now is $90K to $190K worth of savings depending on whether or not you think City services are more important than catch-up raises. The City Manager should have produced a large list of options. As an exercise, we prioritized Public Safety, Recreation, City Council, Development, and Public Works on a scale of 1 to 5. I suppose that’s a very broad form of priority setting, but I would have preferred options. I’m always making the mistake that government should work like the real world, and in my real world experience, when I have a problem to solve I’m supposed to provide a laundry list of options.
It’s a learning experience for me, and I’m sure I’ll be frustrated a lot.
We also talked a lot about an income tax. I had always expected a vote to be held in May of this year. At the January 6th meeting, there was a lot of consensus that it be held in November. Several Council members felt the residents haven’t suffered enough to vote for an income tax. I won’t bore you with all the reason an income tax will be bad for Ypsilanti yet, but I am against it. It looks as though I am the only one on Council who is. Council member Richardson said she was against it in December but said it should be put to a vote at Saturday’s meeting. I sort of relish the underdog role.
If you are a resident of the 3rd Ward in Ypsilanti, I want to make it perfectly clear to you that I sure don’t want to see you suffer.
This is something that very few people know. You can write a check to the City of Ypsilanti at any time if you so chose. It’s tax deductible. If you are one of those people who think we need an income tax, write a check today. I’m dead serious. I’m not being the least bit faceticious. For crissakes, I DESPISE the notion of an income tax and I wrote them one in November of last year donating money for Riverside Park improvements. If you are going to support an income tax, send us that 1% now. Maybe we can put it towards the Freighthouse. Maybe we can get the Tridge fixed up. Maybe we can provide you a service that you want.