OPINION: Don't let Michigan cities die the death of a thousand cuts; let's raise revenues
At the March 19 public forum in Ann Arbor on the emergency manager law there were four speakers: the gentlemen who manages emergency managers, an advocate to repeal the E.M. law, an E.M. from Benton Harbor, and the mayor of Flint.
All of the discussions were civil and cordial. The overlord manager of all emergency managers approached the topic from the need to restructure the finances of failing communities. The advocate for repeal based his remarks on the issue of disenfranchising voters by removing the authority of the officials they elected, thereby denying the citizens direct access to the decision maker(s) who will restructure the finances.
Ryan Stanton | AnnArbor.com
What struck me was that each was approaching the issue from a different perspective, like four blind individuals describing an elephant by touching different areas of the animal. All four of the men were honest in their positions, and all four were right.
Two issues led the discussions: loss of revenue and the needs to cut expenditures.
The revenue loss came from many sources: loss of population, drop in property values, loss of commercial and industrial tax base, and decrease in revenue sharing from the state legislature.
Cutting expenses included asking or imposing reductions in wages and benefits, cutting services altogether, layoffs, consolidation of services like police officers who double as firefighters.
Cities in distress don't have the authority to impose or raise city income tax. Revenue from the State of Michigan continue to dwindle. Many businesses and individuals are not paying their taxes at all, and there are not sufficient resources in place to take the scofflaws to task for their non-payment.
The discussion ended before any amount of brainstorming could take place that might bring the financial picture into balance.
My thoughts: Slim down State of Michigan employment by going to a part-time unicameral legislature that can not accept any campaign contributions from lobbyists. • Raise the beer tax.
• Tax tickets and refreshments at sports venues, both college and professional.
• Reverse the $ 1.8 billion tax cut to corporations.
• Bring back the movie making incentive program to its pre-Snyder level.
• Raise sales tax to 7% or 8% , and give rebates to low income families to zero out any increase from them. Increasing the sales tax would fix the roads and increase employment in repairing the overall infrastructure.
• Tax beverages sold in vending machines.
• Tax in home installations of appliances and/or home repairs
• Taxes haircuts and beauty parlor visits.
I am a proponent of raising revenue rather than allowing the state and its citizens to die the death of a thousand cuts.
Thomas W. Donnelly is a resident of Canton Township.