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Posted on Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 2:26 p.m.

Ypsilanti's budget mess is the City Council's problem to fix

By Guest Column

Some 10 to 12 years ago, the City of Ypsilanti decided to embark on the Water Street Project. Specifically, the socialist commissars at City Hall grossly overstepped their Constitutional authority when they forced taxpaying, private property owners and small businesses to give up their property in favor of a “vision” promoted by a set of bureaucrats, who’ve never had to meet a payroll.

Here we are 10 years later and there sits Water Street, completely empty with a huge red IOU dangling above the property to the tune of about $30 million. Can you say Karma? Yes, indeed, the chickens are coming home to roost.

All of the advocates (some of which saw the writing on the wall and blew town) will of course blame this on the unforeseen collapse in the real estate market and other factors that they claim were unexpected. However, this was a gamble that was made and should have never been made with taxpayers’ money.


Mike Eller is an Ypsilanti resident and a member of the Democratic Populist Caucus.

Soon the bill is coming due and whenever the fiscal water starts to boil, the mayor and City Council start to talk about raising taxes or they threaten to cut services. Never mind the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on unnecessary brick crosswalks, traffic congesting medians, over-the-top parking lot renovations, etc. For projects like these, the City, the DDA or some other governmental entity has seemingly unlimited funds. But when it comes to police and fire protection, the City argues: either we raise taxes or cut services.

Although the ball cannot move along fast enough at this point, the city could help matters by completely getting out of the way and sell the Water Street property or portions of it to anyone that shows a serious interest in purchasing. But in order to do that, at this point, the city must relinquish its control (planning and zoning requirements) and allow free market capitalism to work at its best.

There are few candidates willing to invest hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars in a business venture in which the investor has relatively little or no say in what type of operation is allowed and how it will be built. Only free market capitalism will create jobs, tax revenue and increased long-term growth in the area. Not government; only capitalists with private capital to invest.

Burger King wanted to move into Water Street because they knew it would be profitable and they had private capital to invest. But the mayor said that Burger King was a “poor tone setter” and the city said no thanks.

So now, the city is looking at possible options on how to get the same $400,000-plus the annual property tax revenue that Burger King would have provided from the city residents in the form of some new tax. One thing is for sure and has proven to be true over and over again - if government, at any level, is allowed to get more money from the people, then they will surely never learn from the sins of the past and will inevitably repeat the problem over and over again.

Approximately 5 years ago, the City Council said the sky was falling and the only solution was an income tax. Ironically, the leader of the anti-tax-movement, and now City Council Member Pete Murdock said to me on his front porch during the anti-tax campaign -- “the budget problem is their problem and it’s their job to fix it, not ours (the residents).”.

It is still their problem, not ours.

Mike Eller is an Ypsilanti resident and a member of the Democratic Populist Caucus (



Mon, Apr 30, 2012 : 6:36 a.m.

Sentence two.. was cause to stop reading.. Such use of unnecessary adjectives tells the reader, the writer has lost his objectivity.


Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 3:16 p.m.

You are so right!

Alan Goldsmith

Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 11:17 a.m.

I guess is so focused on page hits you don't even bother to click on the links you post anymore for 'contributors'.

Alan Goldsmith

Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 11:25 a.m.

JESUS ONLY AMERICA FOREVER The Democratic Populist Caucus proudly announces its affiliation with, and working relationship to, The Freedom First Society. Freedom First Society is a national organization, based in Colorado. Its main thrust is holding politicians' feet to the fire. The fire is the U.S. Constitution. If they don't vote the Constitution, throw them out. Fire 'em. More about Freedom First Society can be learned by going to: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>.


Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 2:30 a.m.

Congrats on running a column by the leader of a 'patriot' group, Somebody who thinks that black people were better as slaves, separation of church and state is a fantasy, 'there is no such thing' as gay marriage, and that AIDS is a gay plague that should be allowed to wipe out all the homosexuals. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Oh yeah, they hate seat belts too. Real proud of you.


Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 10:47 p.m.

There is a lot of opinions but it just seems to me that every time Ypsi get an offer for business they turn it down or make is so difficult for the business owner they are not able to open.

hut hut

Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 1:23 a.m.

Did it ever occur to anyone that profit driven developers expected Ypsi to roll over because of its finances? Or maybe the developer didn't have enough of their own funding and wanted to put the risk on the public?

Don B. Arfkahk

Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 10:16 p.m.

Thank you Mike Eller for fueling the misconception that capitalists in government posts are communists. They compete with my private enterprises and as is generally understood, all profits should be going to me. From each according to need, to each according to ability. Only I have the capacity to drink over $1000 of wine per hour.

hut hut

Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 8:45 p.m.

Credibility is gone in the second sentence by using the epithet &quot;socialist commissar&quot;.

hut hut

Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 3:14 p.m.

More than a few conservatives proudly identify as Tea Party Republicans. Teapublican is a media driven contraction, not considered a hateful slur by some.


Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 2:53 p.m.

right.....&quot;socialist commissar&quot; is bad. &quot;Teapublican&quot; is just fine.


Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 9:05 p.m.

hut hut....I totally agree. A post with name calling is removed immediately.

hut hut

Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 8:49 p.m.

I find it strange that annarbordotcom will &quot;moderate&quot; comments with this kind of offensive language but allow it in an opinion piece. Mr Eller's opinion seems little more than a barroom rant complete with all the necessary anti government buzzwords and slogans


Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 8:33 p.m.

Riverside Park, Frog Island. Sell the river bank property. Open Restaurants, shops ect. Make a River walk, make it the New downtown. Who wants to go to down town Ypsi? If it was't for Depot Town and EMU, why go to Ypsi.


Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 2:17 p.m.

well one less thing now, you do know Morninggirl, since you have your finger on the pulse, that the Wolerine has been closed close to a month and is for sale.


Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 6:29 a.m.

There are plenty of reasons to go downtown: the Rocket, Mix, Beezy's, the library, the Wolverine, the thrift shop, the antique store, and best of all, Haab's. We like it enough that we chose to live here. What I can never understand is why people who don't like Ypsi choose to remain here. It's a big world.


Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 8:22 p.m.

Paragraphs 3 and 4 = Ann Arbor and its underground parking garage, new train station (next to existing train station), etc. Water Street IS HAPPENING here, A2 citizens. Please help stop it.