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Oct 16

Say Yes On Lincoln Park Taxes

Comments (1) 8:00 AM posted by admin |

The notoriously Republican, notoriously anti-tax Detroit News recently issued an editorial supporting a 4.42 mil increase in property taxes in Lincoln Park. This millage increase is broken down into five ballot initiatives. One would pay for police and fire. One would go to capital improvements. Another to public works. Another to the library. And the final initiative would go to senior programs.

These millages will be dedicated for the sole purpose of the five ballot questions. Money from police and fire will pay for only police and fire. Because those questions are charter amendments, there is no legal way that dedicated monies may be siphoned off for some pet development project.

That is exactly like the proposed charter amendment brought forth last year by Keep Ypsi Rollin’ to preserve bus service that everyone (including myself) thought was a bad idea.

With that said, it’s not like dedicated funds to specific services is a bad idea. I was concerned with the KYR proposal because it called for 0.65 mils be dedicated to transportation. Despite all the rhetoric behind needing an income tax to pay the AATA bus subsidy, Ypsilanti has NEVER paid the entire contract. It wouldn’t be prudent to all of a sudden begin paying for something that has been subsidized to date.

Regardless, I like the idea. I have no problem with homeowners paying for services through property taxes.

Back to the Detroit News endorsement.

The News made their endorsement because they believe Lincoln Park has taken steps to control their costs. Lincoln Park has, “ended its pension program for new hires, who will now get retirement savings packages similar to the 401(k) accounts used throughout the private sector. In 401(k) programs, employees and employers make contributions to a worker’s tax-deferred retirement savings.”

I suggested this idea once. The Village of Dexter has already implemented this kind of program for new employees. They have also revised their health care options for new hires creating a two-tiered program a la the UAW.

Needless to say, that idea was never put into place locally.

I had a neighbor tell me the other day that he’d support a City Income Tax if City Council would just admit they made a mistake by undertaking the Water Street Project. Residents aren’t against paying taxes. I’m not against paying taxes. What I am against is paying taxes into a system that is obviously broken.

City Council has made significant cuts in City services over the years, but we have failed to look at how we do business and what changes we need to make. If we do pass an income tax, we have done nothing to suggest that we will alter the way we do things. And that is ultimately at the root of all this.

People don’t trust us.

If the Detroit News takes a position on an Ypsilanti City Income Tax, it’s unlikely they will see the same progress in us that they saw in Lincoln Park.

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1 Comment »

  1. Comment by rodneyn
    October 16, 2007 @ 12:41 pm

    “People don’t trust us.”

    Amen to that, brother. A city government in Ypsilanti that spends its tax revenues wisely and takes necessary steps to control costs – what a concept! I wish I lived in that town. With all of the amenities this town offers, an efficient and fiscally prudent city government would indeed make it seem like we’re living in Ypsi-topia!

    However, if wishes were chickens, most Ypsilanti residents would be urban chicken farmers too!

    As a consultant for local governments across Michigan, it has been my experience that most, like Lincoln Park, have taken “necessary steps” to control costs and live within their means. The reason Ypsilanti is in such apparent trouble is because we haven’t.

    Oh, yes, the City Council has made cosmetic cuts, trimmed the edges, and whacked the most public programs (“They haven’t felt the pain enough yet”). What the Council and administration haven’t done is address the structural issues (like pensions, union contracts, privatizing certain services/work, and our otherworldly relationship with the firm providing legal services).

    If the Council had dealt with this in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 0r 2005, we would be in much better fiscal shape.

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