OPINION: This time it's different - vote 'yes' on the Ypsilanti tax proposals
Five years ago, I was a leading opponent of the City Income Tax (CIT). But that was then, this is now.
The projected increase in tax revenues without the CIT never materialized. If we had the $2-$4 million more annually, we would not be discussing a CIT today.
Further, in 2008 the economy crashed and the housing bubble burst. Taxable values plummeted causing an annual loss of $2 million in tax revenues collected by the City of Ypsilanti over what it was in 2008.
The election of a new governor and state Legislature in 2010 did not stem the tide of continued reductions of state shared revenues, now reduced by over $2 million dollars from several years ago. And lastly the debt payments for Water Street are now due.
For the last year, City Council has worked on developing a long term plan that recognizes the shrinking revenue situation and the need to provide services to maintain a safe and attractive community. After considerable review and discussion of various items and alternatives, City Council adopted a five-year plan providing for a deficit free budget that stabilizes city services over the next five years and beyond. It is a balanced approach using expenditure reductions, a broader based replacement tax (CIT) that adds 6,000 new non-resident taxpayers and a temporary Water Street debt millage with city reserves reducing the millage rate in half.
The two ballot proposals are critical to our community’s future. Failure to find replacement revenue and remove the Water Street Debt obligation from the general fund WILL result in major reductions in city services and employees next year and the years following. These reductions will impact public safety and other services and make us a less desirable city to live, work and do business in. It’s our community and our future. It’s up to us. There is no rescue squad from Lansing. I urge a YES vote on both proposals on May 8. A note about Water Street: The folks that we previously elected committed the city’s full faith and credit to payment of that debt. We were left unprotected by those who involved us in this project. We are now stuck with a debt obligation that we cannot ignore and will not go away.
We can continue to rail at those who got us here. But they are gone. We are left to clean up the mess. I refuse to allow the farmer’s folly fiasco of Water Street to spiral into the permanent death knell for our community. That would be the ultimate in cutting off our nose to spite our face. A temporary debt millage restricted solely to pay this debt is the best of bad choices.
For further information on the May 8 tax proposals, go to the city website
or contact me at 485-7799 or Murdock.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pete Murdock represents the Third Ward on the Ypsilanti City Council.