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Posted on Sun, Oct 23, 2011 : 7:27 a.m.

Proposed city income tax in Ypsilanti continues to be a bad idea

By Letters to the Editor

The Ypsilanti City Council is again working to raise our taxes. They plan once again to put a city income tax proposal on the ballot. Also, they want voters to pass a Water Street debt retirement millage: read tax increase. The city income tax was a bad idea in 2007, when it was voted down by Ypsilanti’s working people by a 2 to 1 margin. It is a bad idea now. Even those in favor of the income tax admit that it will not solve the city’s budget problems.

The Water Street millage is also a bad idea. This tax increase forces Ypsilanti property owners to pay for the city government’s costly Water Street debacle. It takes council members off the hook, and places property owners squarely on it.

In the spring of last year, Burger King offered to pay $400,000 for a one acre Water Street parcel. They proposed building a restaurant that was designed to “complement Ypsilanti’s downtown aesthetic.” The restaurant’s interior would have a “downtown feel”, with carpeting, couches and an Internet kiosk. In other words, Burger King bent over backwards to accommodate the city’s Water Street “vision.”

The $400,000 from Burger King’s property purchase could have paid most of Water Street’s first debt payment. The restaurant would have brought in roughly $30,000 per year in new tax revenue.

Most importantly, the restaurant would have represented a starting point in the development of the 38-acre site. More businesses would have followed. But the self-proclaimed visionaries of City Hall, acting like a gang of anti-capitalist commissars, rejected Burger King’s proposal.

Consequently, Water Street continues to be occupied exclusively by grasshoppers and stray dogs. Don’t give City Council any more money. Vote no on all of their future tax increase schemes.

John Wagner



Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 4:22 a.m.

An earlier commenter stated that these are not tax increases. That is not the case. Additional taxes, whether they are intended to replace lost revenue or not, are increases in the RATE at which people are taxed. If I tax 20% of 100 dollars, or 100% of 20 dollars, I receive the same amount, but the person I am taxing certainly feels it differently. Mayor Schreiber already commented in a op-ed piece that Ypsi is at the highest rate of taxation - 20 mills - that the state will allow. They will get no more money from me. In addition, the decrease in my taxes has in no way kept pace with the actual loss of equity of my home. In fact, there is still a difference of many thousands of dollars between the "value" on my tax assessment and comparables on homes sold near me. This, in case you're checking, means that I'm paying even more than I legitimately owe. City Council has to find a viable plan with the money they have. After all, we have to do the same.


Sun, Oct 23, 2011 : 11:04 p.m.

AA, your turn is coming, the debt you have taken on for recent public building debts is looming, and I don't see a reasonable plan to pay for it going forward.


Sun, Oct 23, 2011 : 4:19 p.m.

I agree with the fact that elected city council members have made a series of bad decisions. However, the consequences of these decisions ARE, in fact, the responsibility of the people who voted, and continue to vote some of them, into office. It is factually inaccurate to talk about every alternate tax proposal made as a tax "increase." No city property owner is paying what they used to in property taxes. Why does no one acknowledge this? Property tax revenue collections have plumeted because property values have plummeted, which means that we, the taxpayers, are paying less. An income tax isn't a tax "increase." It's a tax replacement. Argue it on its merits if you will, and take up the issue of incompetent representation at the voting booth and at council meetings, but don't pretend like your overall tax burden would be increased. You're paying thousands less now than you were before.


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 2:07 p.m.

Not...we paid $300 more this year than the city, 2010 vs 2011


Sun, Oct 23, 2011 : 12:32 p.m.

Repeated pattern in Michigan cities where the cities are created merely to finance the public unions and city leaders. People and businesses decide to leave because they are not getting their money's worth. Thus the public unions and city leaders have to increase the tax burden on the remaining cities and businesses causing more people and businesses to leave and so on ... and so on etc. It won't work.


Sun, Oct 23, 2011 : 12:26 p.m.

Wouldn't property taxes be decreased, as in the previous proposal, to offset the tax increase for residents (I think the last tax proposal would have still raised taxes for some residents, though), thus making it a de facto tax increase on non-residents who work in Ypsilanti?


Sun, Oct 23, 2011 : 11:07 p.m.

They (property taxes) have already decreased due to (wait for it) decline in property value. Anything proposed at this time is a means to generate REPLACEMENT dollars. Maybe this will get more support if there is a tie between the "whatever" tax( income, storm water, whatever) and increase in property tax value in years to come. Since apparently locals feel there is hope for their home value (as misguided as that hope might be for anyone in Michigan, I'm not one to take away hope).


Sun, Oct 23, 2011 : 12:05 p.m.

John, you make good points. The people making these decisions are clearly not seeing the big picture you laid out in your opinion pieces. As much as I wouldn't like a Burger King in that location, it would start something there and bring a tax base as well. Another thing to think about, people don't wants a tax hike. People can't afford a tax hike right now and it isn't just Ypsilanti, but most other communities in SE Michigan. That alone should be enough for the City Council to look elsewhere for revenue/funding.