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Posted on Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 5:54 a.m.

Opposing sides challenge each others' calculations on Ypsilanti income tax, Water Street retirement millage costs

By Tom Perkins

Ypsilanti residents can find a calculator on the city’s web site that will determine what a proposed Water Street debt retirement millage and income tax will cost them if the measures are approved on May 8.

Now, Stop City Income Tax, a group opposed to the taxes, is offering its own calculator. And it's calculating that residents will pay far more than what is determined by the city's calculator.

That has Save Ypsi Yes, which supports both taxes but is not affiliated with the city, charging that SCIT is deliberately inflating the numbers to scare voters and is making “wild claims.” But Steve Pierce, who created the calculator for SCIT, says he is simply plugging in the numbers from the city’s five-year financial plan.

Dueling calculations

Both the city of Ypsilanti and an opposition group called Stop City Income Tax are offering competing tools for calculating how the proposed income tax and Water Street debt millage will cost a taxpayer.

The income tax and Water Street millage are essential components of a five-year plan that city officials say will stabilize the city’s financial situation and help it avoid deep cuts.

According to the city’s calculator, an average resident with a median income of $34,685 who lives in a home with a taxable value of $78,100 would pay an additional $317 annually if the income tax were approved.

That same resident would pay an additional $246 in property taxes in 2017 if the city levies half the Water Street tax.

According to the city's web site, that resident would pay an additional $563 in 2017, or approximately 11 percent above what Save Ypsi Yes says is that resident’s current level.

Pierce’s calculator on SCIT’s site finds that the same resident paying the 1 percent income tax would pay $326.85 from their income, but the large difference lies in what a Water Street millage would cost the resident in property taxes.

His calculations include the full 2017 Water Street levy of 7.1171 mills, which is what voters are being asked to approve. City Council approved a resolution to pay half the Water Street debt retirement millage if voters approve the measure. Although Council has promised to lower the tax, it can still levy the full amount.

Pierce said the lower rate is only good for five years, and it can fluctuate with the city’s financial needs.

“I think it can be reasonably argued that (the lowered millage) won’t go the full five years because they will have some problem they need to make up for,” Pierce said.

A feature on SCIT’s calculator also allows residents and business owners to choose whether or not their property is a homestead. Non-homestead properties must pay an additional 18-mill school operation tax.

The resident with a home value of $78,100 will pay $492 in property taxes in 2017 instead of $246 if asked to pay the full Water Street millage, according to the city's calculator.

But SCIT's figures are higher. According to Pierce's calculator, a resident living at their homestead with a home at the same value would pay an additional $1,188 in property taxes in 2017. Combined with the income tax, that same resident would pay an increase of $1,515, or 24 percent, from current levels.

According to SCIT's calculations, residents living in their home valued at $78,100 are already paying $4,909 in property taxes and that figure would jump 24 percent to $6,097.

For non-homestead property owners, Pierce calculates that property taxes will still increase by $1,188. But he has their current property tax payments at $6,315 and jumping 19 percent to $7,503.

Pierce said his figures also include increases in the police and fire pension millage, which are expected to increase and are part of the five-year plan.

Beth Bashert, director of Save Ypsi Yes, questioned Pierce's numbers. She said a check of a 2011 property tax bill on SCIT’s calculator show the current amount of property taxes being paid to be about 24 percent higher than it really is.

She charged that SCIT structured their calculator in such a way that it backs up claims that taxes will increase by as high as 30 percent, though Bashert says that isn't the case.

“I think it’s scaring people unnecessarily,” she said. “The tax proposals are reasonable, and (SCIT's) tax calculator intentionally inflates the numbers that most Ypsilanti taxpayers are going to face … and it makes it hard for people to understand what’s going on.”

But Pierce said the numbers were accurate and he took everything out of the city’s five-year financial plan.

“(The increase) is a lot more and that’s what we’re hoping folks will be aware of — these tax increases are substantial,” he said.

Editor's note: The figure Steve Pierce used in his calculations has been corrected in this article.

Comments

The Black Stallion3

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 10:57 p.m.

I am looking forward to YpsiVeteran and Anna Elder contacting Steve Pierce for a meeting and then reporting back to all of us tax payers the results of the meeting.

YpsiVeteran

Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 12:37 a.m.

You apparently have me mixed up with someone else. No place in any of my posts did I urge you to vote one way or the other. I simply presented YPD/YFD pension facts to counter the misinformation you seem to be so invested in convincing everyone else of. I'm not sure why you think Mr. Pierce is the final word about any of this, but as I said, I don't need any private citizen to make up my mind for me. Especially a group who had a chance to meet in a public forum and refused.

The Black Stallion3

Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 12:06 a.m.

After all the talking about why we should support this tax hike and all the hype, you are telling me you are not up to meeting with Steve to discuss in person what has been spewed here? What does this say for the proponents of this tax hike? Pitiful.

YpsiVeteran

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 11:55 p.m.

You may need and/or want someone to interpret the information for you, make up your mind for you and tell you what to think and how to vote. Many of us are quite capable of analyzing the information for ourselves and arriving at a decision without the help of another private citizen with his own ax to grind.

Steve Pierce

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 9:44 p.m.

Anna Elder, I would be happy to meet you for coffee, let me know what works for you. First cup is my treat. Please call the campaign office any time 734-252-YPSI (9774). Cheers! - Steve

Anna Elder

Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 12:47 a.m.

Steve, I was quite eager to hear your point of view in a public debate. But apparently you didn't feel that your "facts" could withstand public scrutiny. You must be a big fan of Mark Twain, who once famously said, "Get your facts first. Then you can distort 'em as you please!"

The Black Stallion3

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 10:34 p.m.

Please keep us all informed Steve......we are curious to see if ANNA will show up to state her side and listen to yours. Thank you very much for stepping up to the plate for all tax payers.....we do appreciate it.

The Black Stallion3

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 9:41 p.m.

Great post Steve............You brought out many more things than I did and I appreciate you posting them for every tax payer to ponder. I have been talking about public employee's, 401K, and pension plans. As you have pointed out "The Fire and Police Pension millage (we didn't get to vote on this one) goes up 201.12% in 5 years to 14.3198 mills That is a total millage increase of 16.0926 mills by 2017." These are the problems with voting for this tax increase, the scare tactics are just that and should be ignored. Until these public employee's agree to the same terms of retirement that we the private sector have then we must vote NO. It is not that we want to see the city fail but these employee's must do their share to save this city also. You can not expect the tax payers to OK more money until these issues are addressed. Is this too much to ask? Let's do it right the first time.

The Black Stallion3

Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 12:19 a.m.

So are you willing to meet Steve to discuss these allegations in person? I know the answer and hope all tax payers realize how some people are trying to manipulate them but will not meet to back up their claims. This is exactly why I am encouraging tax payers to vote NO, NO,NO.

YpsiVeteran

Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 12:04 a.m.

No one knows what will happen in five years, and anyone who says they do is making things up. If the stock market takes off tomorrow, the city may not have to make nearly the pension contributions they are forecasting. It's completely irresponsible to declare that the pension millage "goes up 201.12% in 5 years. No one knows what will happen with state revenue sharing or the pension fund. The city already has more money coming in from the state than originally predicted, and has lowered the expected millage levy accordingly. The best guesses about the income tax and the Water Street bond payments are on the city's site. The issue here is the Water Street bond debt, not a bunch of sour grapes from people unhappy with their lives and their choices, who won't rest and won't listen to facts or reason until everyone around them is as miserable as they are. Since you have no idea of the facts surrounding the compensation and retirement details of the various groups of city employees, you are in no way qualified to conclude employees are not doing their share to save the city.

Lisa Bashert

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 9:04 p.m.

I can't imagine why Ann Arbor.com decided to write this story since Steve assures us that the calculator on SCIT's site is completely fair and balanced. Guess the reporters just had too much time on their hands. Or an ax to grind. I'm sure that it couldn't be that the numbers are slanted in any way. Just as the antis have presented a fair and balanced view of city council, past and present. And flood insurance. And our president. I could go on for a very long time. The facts are to be found on the website SAVEYPSIYES.COM -- go there and decide for yourself. Don't allow fear-mongering (see my earlier definition in response to Chris) to decide such an important issue for our city. Look at the plan, the charts, the numbers for yourself. You will see that the millage + income tax are a responsible way of dealing with the new economic realities since 2008 and I hope you will join me in voting YES for this bold plan on May 8.

Anna Elder

Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 12:51 a.m.

From Wikipedia: Irony (from the Ancient Greek ???????? eir?neĆ­a, meaning dissimulation or feigned ignorance) is a rhetorical device, literary technique, or situation in which there is a sharp incongruity or discordance that goes beyond the simple and evident intention of words or actions.

The Black Stallion3

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 10:43 p.m.

Please let us all know how the meeting you asked for with Steve goes. I am so happy that you got what you asked for and thrilled to know Steve is ready to meet with you.

The Black Stallion3

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 9:46 p.m.

Can we discus the facts put forth by Steve?

Anna Elder

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 9:20 p.m.

Yes, maybe Steve will meet us for coffee and explain how everything will turn out fine if we just follow blindly. I have looked at the facts and I see further erosion of our city services without more revenue. As a homeowner, I'm tired of shouldering the entire burden of the cost of police and fire, etc. I would think that sharing that vital cost among all those who benefit from the services would be a wiser course of action, especially as our home values continue to drop, along with property taxes. A yes vote seems the smarter way to go. Perhaps not a perfect plan, but at least a starting place and safeguard of current service levels BEFORE the bottom drops out.

Steve Pierce

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 8:46 p.m.

KIH, The Council and supporters of higher Ypsilanti taxes keep referring voters to the 5-year plan. The numbers used on the SCIT Tax Calculator (http://stopcityincometax.com/tax-calculator/) come straight from the Ypsilanti City Council's 5-year plan spreadsheet available on the City's website. According to the Council's 5-year plan: In 2017 the * Water Street millage incrases to 7.1171 mills * The Fire and Police Pension millage (we didn't get to vote on this one) goes up 201.12% in 5 years to 14.3198 mills That is a total millage increase of 16.0926 mills by 2017. Add that to the current City of Ypsilanti millage in 2011 of 62.858 and the homestead millage rate in 2017 is 78.0761. That is a 24.21% increase just for Property taxes. Non-homestead taxes which is on business real estate and personal property like computers and machine tools in Ypsilanti will rise from 80.858 to 96.0761 mills. By comparison Ann Arbor Non-homestead is currently 76.65 and Ypsi Townshp is 62.3849. Detroit is 84.509. These numbers are right from the City's 5-year plan that Council adopted in February 2012. There are no escalators, no inflation factors, nor any other assumptions or additions. We simply made an easy to use calculator that any Mac, PC, tablet and smartphone user can use to see what are the real effects of the FULL 5-year City Council plan using their numbers. This calculator is not the worst case scenario. The worst case is just that, much worse. These numbers and the proposed increases are so large, people think we are making this up. It can't really be this big, can it? It can and it is. Quite simply, if this plan is approved, in 2017 Ypsilanti will have the highest property taxes in the entire state, plus a City Income Tax, plus a 65% monthly tax on water to pay off another $20 million bond we didn't get to vote on either. If you think this is a bad plan, please vote NO on Both on Tuesday May 8.

The Black Stallion3

Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 12:34 a.m.

It is important to us tax payers that the untruth being spewed here are the very reason to vote NO........Mr Steve Pierce has been challenged by your side to meet for coffee and he has accepted. He would like to discuss these untruths and gladly set the record straight, which sounds great to us tax payers. Is there a problem with this? I sure hope not because if there is then I would advise all tax payers to vote NO, NO, NO.

YpsiVeteran

Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 12:28 a.m.

Everything the "just vote no" crowd does is designed to mislead and inflame, starting with the first sentence of this post: "The Council and supporters of higher Ypsilanti taxes keep referring voters to the 5-year plan." If the truth were of any value in the above argument, the post would start with the acknowledgement of the fact that while the mills levied will be higher, "taxes" will not. Taxes collected by the city are at an all-time low, which no one can deny. If the city were collecting the taxes it was even 7 or 8 years ago, this millage would not be required. Yelling "higher taxes" in this climate is the equivalent of yelling "fire" in a crowded theater. It's designed to get people worked up before they have a chance to actually look around and see what's really going on.

The Black Stallion3

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 9:44 p.m.

Amazing how some people keep skirting the truth and want to talk about anything but the facts, Thank You Steve for pointing out the facts. I would advise the tax payers to vote NO until these questions are answered and dealt with.

Julia Grant

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 7:30 p.m.

Wow, what a perfect expression of "truthiness," on the anti side throughout these comments. If BS3 and others have unanswered questions, I think you should check out www.saveypsiyes.com. You will find answers to many of your questions there. And imagine the costs to the tax payer of lowered home values, more crime, higher insurance rates, lack of services. I think most of the people who live here will vote responsibly to pass the millage and income tax. Those who love our city, respect her elected leaders, wish to avoid loss of local representative government, and keep her city services in place will be voting YES on May 8.

The Black Stallion3

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 7:24 p.m.

I will agree with Mr martin church and i will be voting NO.....There are too many unanswered questions that will cost the tax payers in the long run............make adjustments that represent what we the people want and you may then have a chance to tax us more....but not until. VOTE NO !!

Mary Ann Barbary

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 7:08 p.m.

Looking through the responses here, it's clear to me that the YES campaign can back up their points with real facts and real numbers, not just misdirection and baiting the pro side on issues that have nothing to do with the vote on May 8. Their materials are misleading and inflammatory. Their website is full of half-truths, exaggerations, worst case scenarios, offensive graphics, and now a rigged calculator. The YES campaign gave them the opportunity to present their ideas in an open debate, but they ran and hid. The YES campaign has actual city council documents on their site (saveypsiyes.com) which go into detail about the numbers. Not a math wiz, yet I still could follow the charts pretty well. I don't see any attempt to mislead but only a genuine effort to educate the public and keep our city services at current levels while paying down our debt. I am convinced. I will be voting yes on May 8 and I think others should do the same.

jbhuron

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 5:13 p.m.

How do we get all of this energy that is being focused from both sides of this issue and put it into trying to engage our neighbors to make this city better together? Why is this a tax proposal and not a Growth Proposal? Why does council keep looking for shovels to dig the hole, when they should get some hammer and nails and build something new? There is a tremendous amout of vibrancy in this city lurking beneath the unemployment, the dispair, the floundering schools, and crime. I would love to focus that energy on cleaning up Our neighbor hoods, spending some money at our businesses, and literally paint the town. Who is with me?

YpsiVeteran

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 6:07 p.m.

Me. I like the fact that Ypsi is still run by citizens, and not politicians, and while citizens tend to make more mistakes than politicians, at least they're not corrupt like career politicians.

KeepItHonest

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 5:05 p.m.

It appears there is an error in the SCIT calculation. According to the City's five year plan, the full Water Street debt millage for FY 2017 is estimated to be 7.1171 mills. To calculate the corresponding tax, multiply your taxable value by the millage rate, then divide by 1,000. In the example in this article, taxable value was $78,100. The math is: 78,100 x 7.1171/1,000 = $555.85. This is less than one-half of the tax the SCIT website comes up with. If you use market value instead of taxable value on the SCIT calculator, the value is also wrong. It too is twice the rate it should be, because taxable value should be 1/2 of market value. SCIT: please tell us what millage rate you are using, and what your formula is for calculating the property tax.

Martin Church

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 4:58 p.m.

Let's See who should I believe the group who support the taxes who believed we would not have to spend additional revenue to support the destruction of the business paying property taxes in water street. who Lied to us about the final costs and sought to destroy the project from the beginning. or the group who told the city council their numbers were bogus and we would end up having to ask more from the tax payers of this city. these measure give us no safety net, and while the city says they will not charge the full amount. I can not trust them anymore. I will VOTE NO.

The Black Stallion3

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 7:20 p.m.

Good choice Mr Church

YpsiVeteran

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 6:04 p.m.

Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the only person left on the city council who was there during the Water Street debacle is Lois Richardson. Everyone else is new, and trying to clean up the mess.

The Black Stallion3

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 4:52 p.m.

OK....Let's put all city employee's on a 401K plan, let them pay into SS and we will then tell the tax payers that these employee's are getting the same benefits that the private sector is. The employee's will be responsible for their medical upon retiring also. YpsiVeteran say that can not be done....he is wrong...General motors is doing it with it's salary personnel and they are adjusting it for funds already put toward an employee's pension that will be dissolved. So, I say wrong to YpsiVeteran because it CAN be done. I hope this answers your question.

The Black Stallion3

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 4:38 p.m.

@ YpsiVeteran........."I have paid into Social Security far more than I will ever get back if I live to be 110 years old, this does not go along with what we are hearing hear.....Why?" I said this in answer to your statement and have yet to hear a response which would be appreciated.

The Black Stallion3

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 10:48 p.m.

YpsiVeteran......are you and Anna going to meet with Steve? He is more than willing....are you?

YpsiVeteran

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 6:02 p.m.

Also, I responded to your posts above with replies to those posts.

YpsiVeteran

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 6:01 p.m.

Response to what? What is your question? I don't understand what "...this does not go along with what we are hearing hear..." is asking.

Deendeens

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 3:37 p.m.

What I see is fewer and fewer people available to do the city's business. When I go into city hall, I can REALLY see the way the city has cut back. Empty desks and only one staffer in an office that used to house eight. I appreciate the responsiveness of our police now. Every time I've had to call them, they are there immediately and my problem is handled professionally and well. I worry that our dropping property values will mean that, like city staffers, law enforcement won't be around to help when I need them. I'll be voting yes.

Glen S.

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 4:52 p.m.

@ Deendeens Well said, but you forgot to add that is only the case when City Hall is not closed because of their frequent "furlough" days -- which the City instituted as a cost-cutting measure. Folks say we need to do a better job marketing Water Street, and I agree. How sad, then, that one or more days a month, there is nobody available to answer calls at City Hall because of budget cuts. At the rate we are going, that will likely be two, even three days per month. Penny wise, pound foolish ...

The Black Stallion3

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 3:41 p.m.

And I will be voting NO......Why should I spend more of my hard earned money for this?

The Black Stallion3

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 3:36 p.m.

To the ones, you know who, that are having comments removed.....we do have the right in this country to voice our opinions. I will respect your opinion and I expect the same.

The Black Stallion3

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 10:54 p.m.

Stephan...Please look at my post @ 8:29 am and in the reply section you will see the not you have described. Sorry !!

Stephen

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 5:27 p.m.

This site leaves a note saying a comment has been removed whenever that happens. There are none of those notices on this article.

ypsiboy

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 2:35 p.m.

I've spent a fair amount of time studying the proposals (esp. the millage) MILLAGE: - It's not actually a millage. It's a vote to give the Council the authority to assess a millage of their choosing. (When I first read the ballot language on the SCIT website, I thought they had doctored the language to make the proposal look bad...they hadn't.) So no calculator can be a correct since the Council could chose any millage to assess at any time. Also, there are many financial variables written into the 5 year plan and there is no telling who will be on Council when future decisions need to be made. - The Calculators: Keep in mind that the City quotes you 2013 tax rates (the calculator doesn't work on my mac, so they did it verbally on the phone for me) and the SCIT quotes 2017. Big difference since the current plan by the council increases the millage each year. I found the SCIT calculator to be accurate, but wish they had two: one with just the change in the property tax and the other combined with the other expected millage increases. THE CITY INCOME TAX Only debate here is whether is will + or - effect on new business. It's 1% of your income. This can never increase since it is at the state limit. There is no end date. I understand that the Council could end it at their discretion. BOTTOM LINE Our city, like many many others across the country is struggling post economic collapse and we need to work together to do something about it. The millage may be the way to go for the Water Street debt, but this proposal is not it. The City Council is saying, 'trust us to make the right decision'. No. I want to vote on a specific plan, not a 'vote of confidence' in the Council. I am very strongly against this proposal. Come back in November with some real numbers. The City tax: I've found no compelling evidence on either side of the 'good for business' argument. It's not a heavy burden and I support the City Income tax.

Anna Elder

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 2:20 p.m.

Blah, blah, blah Detroit! Blah, blah, blah city council! Blah, blah, blah padded pensions! Blah, blah, blah Obama! Blah, blah, blah tax flight! Blah, blah, blah 30%! Blah, blah, blah liberals! Yes, acronym, it is getting tedious. If you want some actual facts, see SAVEYPSIYES.COM. The opposition can't expose their point of view to a public debate because it doesn't hold water. No surprise that their calculations are inflated. The city council has come up with a good conservative plan to retain city services like police & fire in light of the history that shows everything has been cut to the bone. If their latest flier seen on my street isn't fear mongering, what IS? Ghosts! Well, I ask, who ya gonna call? Ghost-busters! At 734-635-1745!

YpsiVeteran

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 5:59 p.m.

..."life" not "live."

YpsiVeteran

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 5:59 p.m.

BS3, who do you think funds social security? You pay less into social security than YPD/YFD people pay into their pensions, and you pay it for less time. In order to collect a full pension, they how have to pay in for 25 years. You only have to pay into SS for 10 years. As a taxpayer, I suggest that it's only fair for you to give up your social security, as I don't want to subsidize your lavish lifestyle for the rest of my live.

The Black Stallion3

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 4:36 p.m.

They do not get Social Security because the tax payers fund it all....who's money do you think pays for their retirement?

YpsiVeteran

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 4:14 p.m.

BlackStallion, those of us who are dealing with the facts and realities of this situation, and not simply spouting talking points and dogma they've picked up from other equally misinformed people, are still waiting for a response to the questions posed above. Simply posting the same falsehoods over and over will not make them true.

The Black Stallion3

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 3:39 p.m.

I say vote NO until there is a compromise for the tax payers, we can no longer support the life style of the public employee's until they are willing to accept a retirement package that we as private citizens have. We are paying these bills.

Deendeens

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 3:32 p.m.

Gee, I think I understand what Anna is saying. The anti side is only talking about issues that, while possibly valid, have nothing to do with this vote on May 8. If your willing to risk the loss of city services, have at it. But I have read the actual five-year plan and looked at the charts on www.saveypsiyes.com. It's clear tht the only responsible thing to do is vote yes on May 8.

The Black Stallion3

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 3:09 p.m.

@ Anna..........what is all the Blah,blah blah about? Us grown ups are going to vote NO on this and that is no Blah, blah, blah.

ypsiboy

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 2:59 p.m.

I find the millage numbers on SAVEYPSIYES.COM to be misleading. It says 'If both the income tax and the millage pass, you will pay 2.5 mils*' Unfortunately I am not able to copy and paste from the 5 Year Plan on your website, but here are the numbers from your website if both the city income tax and the millage pass. 2013: 2.35 2014: 2.48 2015: 3.00 2016: 3.47 2017: 3.56 ...and here they are if the millage passes and not the income tax 2013: 4.7 2014: 4.97 2015: 6.00 2016: 6.94 2017: 7.12

eastsidemom

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 2:03 p.m.

What is most clear is that the tax proposals are making all the great people in Ypsilanti work against each other. It is one of the most divisive issues I have ever experienced in this town in over 30 years. This tax and millage is bad for Ypsilanti in every way.

tdw

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 2:03 p.m.

Where is Ypsilant ?

The Black Stallion3

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 4:44 p.m.

Thanks Cindy.........We may have to shorten the name if we run out of money.....lol

Cindy Heflin

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 4:04 p.m.

The headline has been corrected.

YpsiLivin

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 1:36 p.m.

I don't live in the city, so my dog is staying home on May 8, but I think city residents need to remember a few things: The city numbers provide the bottom end of the range of what people will really pay and SCIT provides the "worst case" if both proposals pass. The actual numbers are somewhere in between. Second, the City's promise" to halve the tax rate for the Water Street mess if the voters pass both proposals is disingenuous. That's what the City INTENDS to do, which is nice and if it works would lower the tax, but the City INTENDED to develop the Water Street property, charge a higher tax rate for the businesses there and generate revenue to offset the cost of the bonds. What the City PLANNED to do didn't happen. Instead, after the City bought the property, the economy blew out, the developers backed out, the City discovered the brownfield problems that won't go away, must be fixed in order to sell the property and prevent redevelopment/revenue generation until they're addressed. Worse, the City "diverted" some of the money. The voters always pay based on what DOES happen, not what the City plans or intends to happen, or what the Council promises. They also have to pay for all of the other bonds and millages that are already in place and require renewal in the future. The City Council INTENDS to cut the Water Street tax rate, but they are not bound to and the citizens have no recourse if something different happens. I don't blame voters for being skeptical. The Water Street project has already gone seriously off the rails because the City's plan wasn't executed and can't be executed, but still has to be paid for. I'm not saying that the Water Street promoters could have or should have known that the economy would go bad, but they didn't protect the taxpayers in the event that things turned out differently. The City gambled and lost, and now they're asking the voters to roll the dice again.

YpsiVeteran

Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 12:18 a.m.

This is an excellent, pretty objective assessment. I still have a hard time believing the former council didn't include a safety net in the Water Street bond mess. I don't believe that this one bad mistake should condemn the city to oblivion, though, which is why I think the bond millage and the income tax are sound proposals. I do believe, however, that the wording of the bond millage is pretty sloppy and needs to be tightened. Perhaps the quality of the council's legal advice is lacking...?

Julia Grant

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 1:33 p.m.

I figure the anti-tax group's "calculator" is about as reliable as their other fliers & signs -- that is NOT reliable. I believe these modest income taxes are needed to spread out the burden among all who use city services (like EMU and others who spend 40 hours per week here). We need to keep our police, fire and other city services at current levels and no lower! That's a fact.

Rodney Nanney

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 1:27 p.m.

The pro-tax folks in Ypsilanti have chosen to obfuscate and conceal the full weight of new taxes that will fall on the residents over the next five years. Only these first two, the debt millage and city income tax, are subject to voter approval. Once in place, the City Council will have full power to raid our wallets over and over again. The tax calculator on the SCIT website at http://stopcityincometax.com/ offers an honest reckoning of what the future will hold, unless we send another strong message to our city leadership by voting "No!" to both tax proposals on the May 8th ballot.

Stephen

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 1:38 p.m.

Obfuscate and conceal? That is exactly the bread and butter of the SCIT campaign. What a joke that you even try to put that on the Save Ypsi campaign which has been trying to get SCIT people to debate publicly.

akronymn

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 1:35 p.m.

The tax calculator on your website has been shown to be inaccurate at best and dishonest at worst. That's what obuscation and concealment look like. Being honest with voters, providing data backed arguments for our arguments and making every effort to get a debate for voters is honest, open campaigning. What you are doing is not.

chris

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 1:18 p.m.

I just put my numbers in the SCIT calculator, and they came out with $10 of what I estimated my property taxes to be for this year. Looks pretty accurate to me.

The Black Stallion3

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 1:13 p.m.

It is amazing that the liberals that are all for this tax increase are not willing to talk about a compromise. People are coming up with solutions and trying to help but as usual they are being met with a stone wall when talking about helping. If this is the position that the left is taking then I can only wish them luck on having us to agree to pay for their benefits and them not willing to give anything. Vote No, No, No until we see a change.

The Black Stallion3

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 4:55 p.m.

Point well taken....Thank You Cash !!

Cash

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 4:38 p.m.

Your post might carry some credibility if you lose the labels...as it is I just fly right by them unread. Just a thought...if you want to be read, lose the label baggage. I don't mean it to be cruel, just honestly people don't attach credibility to labelers.

eastsidemom

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 1:59 p.m.

There are plenty of liberals against this tax in town, do not be deceived by that party line

akronymn

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 1:33 p.m.

Not only have people on both sides of the debate requested/asked/begged the anti-tax campaign managers for alternatives there has also been much discussion both before and after this election was scheduled over alternatives. There has been no other plan put forth that even comes close to bringing about fiscal stability in Ypsilanti for the five years that this plan does. It's also interesting that you put this in terms of "the left" and "liberals." The majority of voices on both sides of this debate are democrats and would land somewhere left of center on the political spectrum. However it's only the small contingent of people organizing the anti tax campaign who actually think conservatism does anyone any good. And the ones who think they have a shot at holding office in Ypsi in November will be lying to voters and running as democrats. Your point about this being a liberal effort only show that you don't really understand the political landscape in Ypsilanti.

akronymn

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 1:09 p.m.

This anti-tax campaign has been built on distraction, dishonestly and fear mongering. It's getting really old and tedious. In a comment on an earlier article someone made a really good point. If you just look at the two campaign websites side by side it's easy to see that one is supporting a well thought out, effective plan to keep Ypsilanti safe and solvent. http://www.saveypsiyes.com/ The other side is only interested in squashing that plan with no other plan to replace it effectively getting ready to hand Ypsilanti over to an emergency manager. http://stopcityincometax.com/ Really this is to be expected from the group that doesn't respect Ypsilanti enough to have a debate so that voters can actually see all the facts side by side. If you actually weigh the facts here the choice is clear. Voting yes twice on May 8 will keep Ypsilanti financially stable and will keep our public safety in place.

Lisa Bashert

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 3:50 p.m.

Chris, "fear-mongering" means "the use of fear to influence the opinions and actions of others towards some specific end." Stating the predictable results of what will happen to our city is NOT fear-mongering. Thus, I will be voting YES to protect my city and its services for myself and my children.

eastsidemom

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 1:58 p.m.

telling poor widows that there will be no police to call and the street lights won't come on is not fear mongering?

chris

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 1:23 p.m.

Of course, the pro tax increase side is not basing their campaign on fear mongering. "If the millage fails, we will have no police or fire departments. The roads will crumble (note: they already have), your insurance rates will double, and gangs of criminals will make it unsafe to walk outside to your cars, etc." Maybe if it was a renewable millage increase to be voted on each year. But I am opposed to giving somebody a blank check, when they apparently do not even know how much money they need.

The Black Stallion3

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 1:15 p.m.

Well.............You are obviously not paying attention to us......Let's talk 401K for public employee's and retiree paid health care.....do you want to talk? We are listening.

The Black Stallion3

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 12:32 p.m.

Glen....since you seem to be the spokesperson for the police and fire could you answer this question? Are the police and fire personnel willing to switch to a 401K plan to save the tax payers money? If not.....why?

YpsiVeteran

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 5:55 p.m.

BS3, GM salaries employees also get social security and have been paying into SS for the entire lengths of their careers. They are not exempt employees defined by the state. You can't compare the two as the laws governing their benefit plans are different. As I've said, the city has to opt back in to social security for future employees to pay into it. Which I've said I believe they could do, but that's not up to the employees. Also, state law does not allow a police/fire pension fund to be "dissolved" by the city.

The Black Stallion3

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 4:50 p.m.

OK....Let's put all city employee's on a 401K plan, let them pay into SS and we will then tell the tax payers that these employee's are getting the same benefits that the private sector is. The employee's will be responsible for their medical upon retiring also. YpsiVeteran say that can not be done....he is wrong...General motors is doing it with it's salary personnel and they are adjusting it for funds already put toward an employee's pension that will be dissolved. So, I say wrong to YpsiVeteran because it CAN be done. I hope this answers your question.

YpsiVeteran

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 4:46 p.m.

10% of their after-tax wages go into the pension plan, plus they have the federally required amount of money deducted from their checks in Medicare premiums. You only pay a little over 7.5 percent in FICA tax, and part of that goes to Medicare. You actually contribute less to Social Security than they do to their pensions. Furthermore you only have to have 40 qualifying quarters to earn a social security check when you retire, which is only 10 years of work. Prior to 1978, a person only had to have earnings of $50 or more in a quarter to have that quarter count, and now a quarter counts with as little as $1,130 in earnings for the period. These employee are paying thousands more into their pensions than that. http://www.ssa.gov/oact/COLA/QC.html

jjc155

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 4:39 p.m.

@BS3, just curious as to what (if anything) YpsiVet got wrong? Simply saying "Wrong again Veteran..........Wrong again" is not a very compelling argument. Like I for one know for a fact that YPD officers and YFD personel do NOT pay into Social Security nor draw Social Security at 65 or whatever the age is now. I also know that many (if not all) YFD and YPD personel also pay into 457K plans to supplement their pensions, which are no where near what many would think, plus atleast YPD Personel (and maybe YFD) pays 10% GROSS income of each paycheck into the pension fund. Just curious. I dont live in the city but work in the city so I will be hit for 1% with no say in what happens with the vote.

The Black Stallion3

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 4:34 p.m.

They do not get Social Security because the tax payers fund it all....who's money do you think pays for their retirement?

YpsiVeteran

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 4:08 p.m.

Furthermore, as I've already posted, incoming police employees don't get any medical benefits from the city upon retirement, and they have to work longer to retire. Changing the benefits for incoming employees is fair, as they have a choice whether to accept the job or not.

YpsiVeteran

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 4:06 p.m.

I'm wrong? What am I wrong about? That police and fire employees don't get social security? They don't. Call the city and ask. Ask the paper. Ask anyone you like. It's fact. That the choice to offer defined benefit pensions instead of SS is the city's and not the employees? Call the city, or the state, and ask. It's fact. That I don't get a pension and I don't work for the city? Also fact. Please enlighten us all regarding what I'm wrong about.

The Black Stallion3

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 3:15 p.m.

Wrong again Veteran..........Wrong again.

YpsiVeteran

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 1:51 p.m.

Correction, my comments apply to city employees who are members of the Police and Fire Pension plan. They don't get social security. And for the record, I don't work for the city and I don't get a pension.

YpsiVeteran

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 1:47 p.m.

How are employees who are nearing the end of their careers, who've been paying into their pensions for 20 years, supposed to "switch" to a 457 plan now? The city, like most municipalities in this state, and most other states, chose to opt out of social security in lieu of a pension plan. The city can opt in, I believe, at any time. It's not the choice of the employee. I would think that those of you so sure of the misinformation they are constantly offering would have a better grasp of the facts involved. No city employees have a choice. They get the pension, that they pay into, in lieu of social security.

The Black Stallion3

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 12:29 p.m.

I agree with you Cash..............We have to get the teachers and administrators of our public schools on a 401K plan also. I truly believe that once this is done and public employee's are living like the private sector, which pays them, we will see people willing to pay more in taxes for local government and education. It is very disheartening for tax payers to even think that they are financing pension and medical benefits for the life of the public employee when they themselves do not have such benefits.

The Black Stallion3

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 3:33 p.m.

I have paid into Social Security far more than I will ever get back if I live to be 110 years old, this does not go along with what we are hearing hear.....Why?

YpsiVeteran

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 2:05 p.m.

It's very disheartening to me to realize I have to continue to pay into Medicare when I realize it's going to fund medical benefits for life for hypocrites who are going to collect lifetime medical benefits while all the while denying that they will collect lifetime benefits.

eastsidemom

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 1:57 p.m.

some got golden parachutes when leaving our fair town

YpsiVeteran

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 1:43 p.m.

Wrong again. You do get paid for life, it's called Social Security. There's no way you will have paid enough into Social Security by the time you start collecting to cover the amount you will be paid, and taxpayers will be subsidizing your income for the rest of your life. It's only fair to taxpayers that you give up the Social Security you've paid into, earned and have been promised, just like you want current employees to give up the pensions they've paid into and earned. Shared sacrifice, right? You give up your Social Security, then you can talk about what happens in the "private sector." And no, I don't work for the city, or any governmental unit, and I don't collect a pension.

Cash

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 11:42 a.m.

I realize we are getting posters from Ypsi govt.....could someone give us the exact dollar amount transferred from General Fund (taxpayer money) to the F&P Pension Fund currently and the balance in the F&P Pension Fund? I am interested in how much could we save by refining the program to a 401K with retiree paid health care for future retirees? I think we'd find most City taxpayers have no pension and are lucky to have a 401K.

YpsiVeteran

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 4:29 p.m.

Also, if "what is done with new hires is not material," then why in your original post did you ask "I'm interested in how much we could save by refining the program to a 401K with retiree paid health care for future retirees"? I simply answered your question.

YpsiVeteran

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 4:26 p.m.

There's nothing testy about it. These are simple facts. I have no antagonism towards anyone who is interested in dealing with facts and reality, whether I agree with them or not. Deliberate repeating of misinformation and outright fabrication, especially after the information has been shown to be incorrect, however, does not have any place in these discussions, and it deserves all the contempt it inspires. As far as solutions, I support the temporary solution being offered by the city, and I support the steps they've taken to restructure incoming employee benefit packages so they are more in line with what's affordable. Those obligations are only a piece of the puzzle, however.

Cash

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 4:08 p.m.

My my so testy, Ypsi Vet..... I fear that the antagonistic attitude by both "sides" on this issue is tearing the city part. Nastiness isn't necessary. Looking for cost savings and suggesting them IS NECESSARY! The state WILL take away personal property tax soon....count on it. Then what??? Really what is done to new hires is not material. What is going to happen to those currently hired is an issue and is material. Their legacy costs will impact taxpayers for decades. Now climb down off the high-horse and join in an effort to problem solve not slap any poster with questions and suggestions.

The Black Stallion3

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 3:11 p.m.

How many relatives of city employee's are on here Anna?

YpsiVeteran

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 2:49 p.m.

Cash, the city's budget figures are available on the city website. Stop relying on other people to do your research and thinking for you. And here's a news flash, the city's already eliminated retiree health care for all incoming police and fire employees. People hired in today will not have health care at retirement and have to work 25 years instead of 20 to retire.

Anna Elder

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 2:02 p.m.

LOL! Of all the posters I know on this thread, NOT ONE works for the city. We are just private citizens who respect the plan that has been created with actual steps to achieve it -- as opposed to the anti-tax group whose only response is "I don't want to pay more." Well, I don't want to pay more -- but I love my home town and I realize it's necessary to keep it the safe beautiful place that it is. Vote YES if you feel the same on May 8.

Cash

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 11:31 a.m.

Fire and Police Pension a huge drain on over-taxed taxpayers. Can there be a vote to change it to a 401K with retiree paid health care? Is it possible to vote on this issue or is it carved in stone?

The Black Stallion3

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 11:23 a.m.

These are the same arguments that the President used when trying to shove Obama Care down our throats.....we can all see what happened there and even the Supreme court doesn't understand it......Vote NO on this scheme to support the pensions of public employee's of Ypsilanti.

YpsiVeteran

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 2:44 p.m.

More misinformation and outright falsehoods. The city's pension contributions are mandated by law, and will be made regardless. This millage does not "support the pensions" of public employees, as the city does not need voter approval to collect whatever money it needs for pensions. In fact, when the stock market was booming and the pension fund was flush, employees covered by the pension agreed to allow the city to divert money that was destined for the pensions plans to use for the benefit of all city residents. Dragging the president into this is just another way to distract people from the fact that you're not accurately representing the situation in any way.

City Confidential

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 11:15 a.m.

It looks like the SCIT calculator defaults to the non-homestead millage rate (18 mils higher than the homestead rate) and takes not only the full Water Street millage, as opposed to the half rate that would be levied if both proposals pass, but also the highest possible estimated millage rate for the future - which would correspond to a lower property value level. Since the user is plugging in their current, known, property value, the millage rate used is inflated. I think this article is probably more confusing than it needs to be and things would be much clearer to the general public if SCIT had the integrity to stand behind their claims and participate in a debate. As it is, no one can question their "facts" and "calculators" or ask them to explain how things would be better when we run out of money in the city. That is exactly what they want - so their short-sighted, Tea Party-based ideas that begin and end with "I don't want to pay" can't be questioned.

pseudo

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 11:01 a.m.

I checked ours...SCIT's calculator was way way way over inflated. The city provided the correct numbers. One of the things that I have appeciated most about Ypsilanti's city government is their transparency and integrity. One of the issues I have with the baloney poffered up from the SCIT folks is...their lack of both.

Harry

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 5:10 p.m.

How would you know if one is correct and one is not?

Glen S.

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 10:43 a.m.

One other point: Like many Ypsilanti homeowners, my property taxes have dropped considerably over the past few years, due to falling property values. Whether I use the City's (accurate) calculator, or the "No" side's (fake) calculator -- my estimated future taxes will STILL be lower than they were five years ago. Paying a bit more (but still less than I was paying five years ago) -- in order to keep Police and Fire at levels that keep our community safe -- seems like a pretty good deal to me. That's why I plan to vote "Yes" on both measures on May 8.

eastsidemom

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 1:55 p.m.

cruel bragging, as that is not true for all of us

Glen S.

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 10:33 a.m.

The "No' side opened their campaign with over-the-top flyers warning about a "big, 30% tax grab." Then, their claims were questioned, they quickly put together a "calculator," that was cleverly designed to back up their numbers -- even though the City of Ypsilanti had already provided an (accurate) calculator on its own website. I guess we shouldn't be surprised that the group that doesn't respect Ypsilanti voters enough to participate in a public debate now wants to hide behind a phony tax "calculator" to justify their inflated claims.

eastsidemom

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 1:54 p.m.

When we pucnche din our numbers it reflected a 28% increase on the city's calculator...seems pretty close to the estimate to me