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Posted on Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 5:54 a.m.

Ypsilanti officials frequently change 5-year budget projections as vote on tax proposals near

By Tom Perkins

What does Ypsilanti’s financial future hold?

City officials agree the picture is bleak, but depending on which financial report and assumptions are used, Ypsilanti has presented the public with a frequently changing array of scenarios as it attempts to win support for a pair of tax increases.

On May 8, voters will be asked to approve two tax proposals:

  • A 1-percent personal income tax.
  • A Water Street debt retirement millage that is part of a five-year plan designed to help the city avert a financial crisis. Until recently, the five-year plan included a 4.7085 millage, but, because of improved projections, council now says it would only levy half that amount.

Council Member Brian Robb has been involved in working on the projections, but said he is skeptical of them.


Brian Robb

“Five years ago we were projecting having a budget of $19.7 million in fiscal year 2012 and you see how good our ability to predict the future was back then,” Robb said, referring to the city projecting that much in expenditures. The city actually budgeted for $12.6 million in expenditures this year.

“As far as the budgets we’re projecting now," Robb said, "It's almost like pulling numbers out of thin air.”

Until former City Manager Ed Koryzno departed on Jan. 20, Ypsilanti was estimating a $10.69 million shortfall in fiscal year 2017 if nothing was done.

But staff began working on new numbers, and at council's Feb. 7 meeting, new projections put the 2017 shortfall at $6.1 million — a difference of $4.5 million.

At the time, Assistant City Manager David Kowall said it no longer appears that Lansing will eliminate the personal property tax, which reduced the projected deficit by $2.4 million.

Kowall also said at the time that the city found piecemeal savings throughout the budget and state shared revenues for this fiscal year came in higher than expected, which further reduced the projected deficit to $6.1 million

If both taxes were approved under this version of the plan, the city would have only faced a $350,000 deficit in 2017. But that didn’t entirely solve the city’s financial problems over the five years, and Ypsilanti resident Lee Tooson highlighted that during public comment at the Feb. 7 meeting.

Figures changed quickly just prior to the next meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 21. Here's a timeline for the fluctuating projections:

Prior to Friday, Feb. 17: Officials were estimating property values would decline by 7 percent in fiscal year 2013, then 3 percent each of the remaining years through 2017. That would give the city a $350,000 deficit in 2017.

Friday, Feb. 17: New projections are posted in the meeting packet available on the city’s website that forecast a $11,000 surplus. The major change is the assumption that property values would actually improve by 2017. The new projections figure there would be less decline in property value, and values would actually increase by .5 percent in 2017.

Monday Feb. 20: An income tax study that arrived over the weekend that estimated the tax would generate $500,000 more per year than previously expected is figured into the most recent projections that gave the city an $11,000 surplus. But with the new property value assumptions and the improved income tax revenue projections, the city could expect a significantly larger budget surplus in 2017.

Such a surplus would make the two tax proposals a tougher sell to voters.

Tuesday Feb. 21: City officials switch back to the more conservative estimates, thus eliminating the large potential surplus. The more conservative estimate combined with the new income tax projections put the city at an expected $102,000 surplus in 2017. The previous projections are pulled from the city's web site and the new numbers are presented at the council meeting that evening.

Those are the numbers voters are now are examining as they make their decision whether or no to support the two tax proposals.

Kowall said the city re-adjusted the figures before the Feb. 21 meeting because changing them too often would confuse residents.

He said the city is “playing it safe” by using the more conservative property value estimates, but added the estimates beyond 2013 may be “overly conservative.” He said the changes in property value projections were attributed to his discussions with city staff, council members and a variety of economists’ predictions.

“A lot of what I read seems to indicate that the housing crisis has bottomed out or is close to it,” he said. “There was no magic behind the changes (in property vale estimates).”

Robb said that could provide the city with more money than intended.

“In all likelihood, if both measures pass, we’re going to end up with a tremendous amount of surplus,” he said. He added that if such a scenario played out, he would like to see council reinvest money in city services because they have been cutting services and staff for years due in part to the strain of the Water Street debt.

Peter Murdock.JPG

Pete Murdock

Council Member Pete Murdock, who Kowall said has worked closely with staff on the projections, said a surplus could leave the city with a variety of options, including paying down the Water Street bond debt, reducing the proposed Water Street millages or repaving Grove Road.

But he cautioned that the projections are just that, and the city could also end up in a much worse financial position than it is predicting.

“It’s not a perfect science trying to predict this stuff,” he said. “We made our best effort to put together a plan that’s deficit-free and that is what this is.”


Pete Murdock

Tue, Mar 13, 2012 : 6:03 p.m.

@Eastsidemom Factually incorrect again: The Police and Fire Pension contribution and millage rate is established through the Act 345 Police and Fire Pension System. The Act 345 Police and Fire Pension System was established through a vote of the people shortly after World War Two. Failure to abide by Act 345 would lead to expensive and unwinnable lawsuits. City Council has taken measures to reduce future pension costs. This Spring the City will be in negotiations with all of our Police and Fire collective bargaining units to explore possible future cost reductions.


Thu, Mar 15, 2012 : 7:47 p.m.

No one said the city would not abide by the laws and pay the pensions, what I said was those costs will rise from past retirements, not future ones. And again I repeat, a simple vote of 4 can raise it. Fact check yor own numbers please...


Wed, Mar 14, 2012 : 6:51 p.m.

Fact checked and fact checked again...and from those who cannot get their facts straight, Hmm?

Ypsilanti City Resident

Tue, Mar 13, 2012 : 11:36 a.m.

to: YpsiVeteran And we Trust our City? Why? They lied about the Festival Fee, it was supposed to go to Riverside Park, then after the vote, it can now go to any City Park.


Tue, Mar 13, 2012 : 4:42 p.m.

Glen S, you are exactly correct. No alternatives and no ideas, just blind obstructionism.


Tue, Mar 13, 2012 : 4:39 p.m.

Eastsidemom, again, who cares what anyone's promising? If the language of the proposals is appropriately specific and limiting, what any present or future councilmembers want or like is completely immaterial. If the proposal that's passed by voters limits spending or millage amounts, then the city is bound by the language by law. If you, personally, read the proposals, and find the language insufficient to ensure compliance by current or future officials, then attend meetings and insist it be changed. If you haven't read the proposals, then all this "what if they won't" and "what if they don't" is just counterproductive drama. None of this is any sort of leap of faith. Ballot proposals are black and white, and state law is what it is. Read it and act.

Glen S.

Tue, Mar 13, 2012 : 4:28 p.m.

@ eastsidemom To you and all others who say you can't support this because you don't "trust" City Council ... what do you propose as an alternative? The City Council members we have are the ones we've got ... and nobody can predict the future. Local democracy isn't perfect, but still ... we've got a community to run, and bills to pay, and we have to figure out how we're going to do that -- and soon! Meanwhile, I find it interesting that, looking back through all these comments, I'm yet to hear a single *genuine* idea or solution from anyone on the "No" side regarding how we can deal with our structural budget deficit.


Tue, Mar 13, 2012 : 4:10 p.m.

It is precisely about trust. Do you trust 4 council members or 4 future council members to vote what they are promising today or do you expect they will vote in what they believe is the best interest of the city in that moment, for example when the police and fire retirement costs start to skyrocket as expected? They decide by a simple majority vote how big the millage will be and how much goes for what.


Tue, Mar 13, 2012 : 1:09 p.m.

I don't see the word "trust" anyplace in my post. Why anyone would take anybody else's word for what's in a document that's public record is beyond me anyway. Go read the ballot proposals for yourself. If the appropriate language is not in them, raise hell. This is not rocket science. Many people who have yet to obtain "closure" for the Farmer administration's debacle are more focused on retribution than they are on addressing today's situations. Seek retribution all you'd like, but don't pretend it's now going to fix anything. I'm sure you'll feel better, but afterward, the bill's still in the mailbox and it's not going away. I'm not familiar with the Riverside Park issue you mention, but if you didn't read the language of the proposal before you decided/voted/whatever, then what are you complaining about?

greg, too

Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 9:12 p.m.

Purely informational questions from a person who cannot make the information sessions. In the assumption section for the tax increase (below, #7), <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> why does it state that the city council approved using general funds to pay the Water St. debt and to allow themselves to not use the full amount for the debt? Is that not the root need for the millage? And if the city thinks that 5+ mills are required to pay the bills yearly, why are they asking for less? From what the city leaders state, this money can only be used to pay off the debt, so what is the plan for when the millage isn't enough? And if there is a surplus, would it not make sense to plow that money right into the debt to pay it off faster in case another economic slowdown comes or this one does not end or to get these albatross off of the city's back?


Tue, Mar 13, 2012 : 12:34 a.m.

Perhaps you should re-read the article and comments. It has been clearly stated that the city is planning on using at least $3 million for bond debt reduction, to try to pay as much a possible from the existing budget and keep the amount of money requested from taxpayers to a minimum, and that the amount of the millage will be adjusted slightly each year to meet actual principal and interest due. It's also been stated that any money realized from taxes on the property, sale of the property, etc., will be applied to the bond debt.

greg, too

Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 8:32 p.m.

"Five years ago we were projecting having a budget of $19.7 million in fiscal year 2012 and you see how good our ability to predict the future was back then," Robb said, referring to the city projecting that much in expenditures. The city actually budgeted for $12.6 million in expenditures this year. "As far as the budgets we're projecting now,&quot; Robb said, &quot;It's almost like pulling numbers out of thin air." The pro tax people might want to stop Robb from speaking anymore because he is starting to scare people. And not in the way I think he intended (i.e. to vote for the tax increases). One way to think about his statement is what is going to stop the city from in five years being off another $5 million in their estimates? If so, I think the city is out of options. The taxes will pass because the city council has wisely rammed it through to get a vote at a time when most people are not expecting it and so there will be low turnout on the anti-tax side. It's akin to the old tactic of putting news out on Friday nights (pre internet) so no one would notice. I just hope they aren't off by $5 million again in their projections. With such a small budget, that's kinda waaaaaaaaaay off.

Pete Murdock

Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 7:30 p.m.

@ Water Tower City Council and staff have been working for nearly a year to develop a financial plan that looks beyond the next election or two year budget cycle. The goal was to provide for a five-year plan that stabilized city services and was deficit free over the five years. Our assumptions and projections were in constant flux as new information became available up to the point of adopting the final five year plan. The further out we extend our projections the less clear the crystal ball is, but we do our best. The taxable value projections used in the five year plan, are the same ones we used in our last two year budget cycle. They were derived from the sources you recommend including the county, SEMCOG, real estate financial and assessing sources. We looked at revising them (as we do every year) to reflect any changes but ultimately left them the same upon the recommendation of those same sources and the fact that FY 2012-13 taxable value is decreasing slightly more than our estimate of minus 7%. Several things were adjusted in the final version. 1.) We included the savings from adopting the 80/20 split in employer/employee health care premiums. 2. We backed out the loss of personal property revenue which had been proposed by the governor and legislators because they now are looking at revenue replacement and pahsing beginning in 2016. 3. We adjusted the projected City Income Tax revenue and its phase-in to conform to the recent Income Tax study projections. AND THERE WAS NEVER AN ACCURATE PROPOSAL THAT GENERATED ANY SIGNIFICANT SURPLUS – We of course could use rosy scenarios that the State will restore our $2M annually in revenue sharing and that taxable values would increase the maximum 5% a year and that employees would work for half pay. That would get us a paper perfect balanced five-year plan but wouldn't really solve the problem. Now, what constructive suggestions or adjustments do you have to the five year plan? Projections?


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 5:59 p.m.

Schreiber says the latest projections are conservative and will result in a balanced budget for 5+ years From this article it sounds like the City kept changing numbers until they could come up with a 5yr plan that didn't show a deficit or as their first set of numbers showed, a huge surplus. The numbers used to estimate the reduction in taxable value is a very critical number, yet it is entirely made up. There is no source, no research, no experts, it is simply a wild guess. The numbers the Council used -7 -3 -3 -3 -3 FYE 2013 to FYE 2017 respectively have a huge impact on projected revenue and if those numbers are changed even slightly as they were several times in February, the budget swings from a huge surplus to a huge deficit by 2017. Such critical numbers shouldn't be a wild guess and it wasn't the budget experts, economists, SEMCOG, County Assessor, or financial consultants that came up with these numbers, it was members of Council that kept going back to City Hall time and time again to get the City to change the numbers until it suited there scheme. Some have suggested the reason the previous interim City manager was pushed out in February is because he didn't want to play that game. That isn't using conservative numbers for projections. Every where else, that is called cooking the books.


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 8:13 p.m.

None of that was factual at all. In fact those assertions are all false. The SCIT crew has gone beyond hand waving and noise making and resorted to outright lies to try and fool people into voting their way. Pete Murdock's post below outlines just how wrong this is.


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 7:15 p.m.

&quot;Some have suggested&quot; and &quot;it sounds like&quot; aren't facts. The previous city manager left for totally unrelated reasons and you know that. Stop trying to use conspiracy theories to further your cause in lieu of actual facts. Get the real story and some actual facts here: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

Ypsilanti City Resident

Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 7:08 p.m.

Water Tower: Now that is some facts that I can support.


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 5:42 p.m.

I signed up at <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> to get more information and was pleasantly surprised at how helpful they have been answering all my questions.


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 4:09 p.m.

Higher taxes depress property values. If these taxes pass, someone considering your $110,000 home in the City of Ypsilanti would have to discount the offering price by another $10,000 compared to an identical house in the Township, if he or she wanted to stick to the same mortgage budget (total of principal, interest, taxes). This is above and beyond the loss of value your house already suffers due to the tax differential. In other words, you would not only be paying higher taxes, but your home equity would immediately drop by $10,000. Some of the city revenue projections assume that the housing market has bottomed out, but these taxes would create a new bottom.


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 5:09 p.m.

Do the math. If these taxes pass, for the same price ($820 mortgage, 30 years, 360 payments) at current rates), you could either buy a house in the city for $100,000 or a house in the township for $125,000. I was being generous by only pointing out the additional discount ($10,000) that a city house must offer to be competitive with offerings across the street from Normal park to be competitive. In these two cases, someone making the exact same payments would either end up with a $125,000 asset (township) or a $100,000 asset (city). The market will quickly sort this out. I was not speaking to whether or not the city should adopt more taxes for other reasons, only to fully inform people that higher taxes will reduce home value.


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 4:23 p.m.

That isn't how this works at all. Passing around this sort of misinformation isn't helping anyone.

Ypsilanti City Resident

Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 3:45 p.m.

To anyone who is interested in moving beyond such rhetoric, and what it will mean for Ypsilanti Residents, please visit: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 4:47 p.m.

It would be nice if this website was updated and active although I have a feeling that maybe the owner(s) of it are the ones that flipped from their original stance circa 2007 when this page was probably created. However, I do proudly wear my button!


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 4:25 p.m.

There is no information on the website you reference, just a web form if you want to volunteer. Information please?

Pete Murdock

Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 3:40 p.m.

@Thomas The short answer is yes. People we elected committed the City's full faith and credit for this bond issue. If we default on the payments, the bondholders will go to court and get a judgment to pay it out of existing City funds. If those are insufficient, a court ordered debt millage will be imposed, leaving us in the equivalent circumstance of passing the millage in May.


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 3:07 p.m.

The Mayor and Pete - Is it true that by law we have to pay off Water Street before we're allowed to pay city employees? (ie. police and fire, etc!). Explain that part a little bit please. It might help people make a decision.


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 8:10 p.m.

In fact after reading through all their material these SCIT resources don't really provide any material whatsoever. Just a bunch of fear mongering and noise making to distract from the distinct lack of factual support.


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 4:21 p.m.

Neither of those resources address the question. The answer to Thomas' question is yes.

Ypsilanti City Resident

Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 3:24 p.m.

Go to: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> or go to Facebook page <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> to get the real story

Pete Murdock

Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 3:03 p.m.

@Ypsilanti Resident and Eastside Mom and others – Fact Check: The proposed Water Street debt millage can ONLY be used for the specific Water Street debt. The millage rate would be established every year to provide the necessary revenue to make that year's principal and interest payments. Those amounts will be reduced by any taxes generated on the Water Street site through the Tax Implement Plan or from any payments made out or city reserves or other sources. The five year plan calls for one half to be paid out of reserves - $3.8M over five years. When the debt is totally paid off or can be paid with other sources, the Water Street Debt Millage disappears. As to the Road millage approved by voters, a few years ago we issued refunding bonds to restructure one issue of the Road bond to take advantage of lower interest rates and saved City tax payers a few hundred thousand dollars. (I assume you would approve?) One road debt issue expires in FY 2018 and the other in FY 2020. These were always 15-20 year bonds.


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 2:48 p.m.

Robb has been very uncooperative in the budget process for quite some time now. These latest complaints are just another way for him to antagonize the members of council who are making the difficult and necessary decisions to maintain Ypsilanti as a safe and welcoming city. To address the points in the article writing a budget is always an iterative process. The budget is written, more research is done, the budget is updated, more information becomes available, the budget is updated and so on until a well written budget is created. At this point Ypsilanti city council is presenting us with a budget that they are very confident in, that is conservative enough to be sage and that will allow the city to continue operating without further service cuts. To address the discussion in the comments the fact of the matter is that both the millage and the income tax are necessary for Ypsilanti to remain the great city that it is. The comments about tax flight and loss of business are unfounded, inflammatory and incorrect. Dark streets, high crime and urban decay are what drives away citizens and business. I will be voting YES on both the income tax and the millage on May 8th because that is what is necessary to take care of my city. For real, factual, research based information on why that is visit <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>.


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 3 p.m.

That website has as much hyperbole as a Santorum Super PAC commercial. No one knows what will happen if it passes or if it doesn't pass. Everything is just a guess at this point and to act or say otherwise is misleading.

City Confidential

Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 2 p.m.

I'm voting yes on both of these proposals because this city is relatively safe and stable - and I want it to stay that way. I am not willing to live in a place that doesn't feel safe and stable. For all of the threats about people fleeing the taxes - what about the people fleeing the cuts to city services and safety? Ypsilanti has one of the lowest per capita spending rates in the state. We spend $1136 per capita. Compare that to Ann Arbor's $2487 or Detroit's $4065. We are lean and efficient. The rates may be high, but the value basis is low, so the per capita spending and collection are not out of line with other communities. In fact, 17 cities spend more than twice what we do per capita. There are lots of people who won't pay the income tax (retired, fixed income, disabled, military), there are personal and dependent exemptions, and really, it's the only other way to bring in revenue besides property taxes.


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 1:47 p.m.

For all that get the privilege of voting for this...don't believe the fear mongering of the Say Yes folks who always 'stack the deck' in the comment areas to published stories on this topic or the same technique on their website even though they don't even know what will happen for sure if it doesn't pass just like the last time. Study up, ask questions, and vote your conscience. For me, that is a definite no on the city income tax while I am still debating on the other one.


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 2:06 p.m. This really is my own screen name. You must be referring to Murph who is not me nor I him.


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 2:02 p.m.

&quot;Stacking the deck&quot;? You mean doing things like imitating the screen names of people who are in favor of saving Ypsi? Regardless both of these need to pass in order for Ypsi to remain a stable, safe city to live in.


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 1:42 p.m.

Hey NO people: What's your plan? &quot;NO!&quot; isn't a plan. I've seen enough of that in the federal government. Are you just gonna shout &quot;NO!&quot; at the fire burning down your house when we don't have a fire department? Are you gonna shout &quot;NO!&quot; at your garbage can when it's sitting on the curb and nobody's picking it up? Are you gonna shout &quot;NO!&quot; when your car gets jacked? Are you gonna shout &quot;NO!&quot; at the waist high weeds in the parks that your kids are trying to play in?

greg, too

Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 9:38 p.m.

Both sides only have scare tactics to use. The pro tax side has flimsy numbers that one day say surplus and the next day say emergency manager and Mad Max-like crime wave and Jurassic Park weeds if you don't pawn off your dog and tv and give the funds to city hall ASAP. The anti tax side says white (or property owner) flight, which in this area is like yelling fire in a crowded theatre. I say people should vote yes multiple times. Once for the millage to keep the bill collectors at bay, once for the income tax to keep the lights on at city hall and stop the Thunderdome from sprouting up in Recreation Park, and then yes for every candidate running against your city council in the next election. Let them get the money to keep the city in the black and then bring in people to fix this chronic problem of mismanagement. I don't care if we had a surplus at one point, it sure doesn't seem to be helping us now.


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 3:32 p.m.

For some reason fear of taxes is legit, but fear of my quality of life disappearing is a tactic. Confidential, I will be voting yes, for sure.

City Confidential

Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 3:21 p.m.

I appreciate you passion, Bilbo. These are scary prospects. The people that are saying that they will pack up and leave are using scare tactics too. It sounds like you are doing what needs to be done for the city - voting yes on both proposals. Thank you.


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 2:34 p.m.

Sounds like your instilling fear, bad idea.


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 1:39 p.m.

Ever seen those lunatic websites like timecube that capitalize random words and have random line breaks? Yeah.


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 1:35 p.m.

I've seen what life looks like in cities that didn't protect themselves - bars on windows, CCWs for everyone, justifiable homicide cases when they are coming in your house. That is what I will flee from, I have before. I don't pay nearly as much as I did in taxes here a few years ago - doesn't anyone else want to admit that? My tax bill is DOWN. So is yours. This may be raising the RATE, but the BILL is DOWN. Lots of people won't even be paying the income tax anyway - retired people, disabled people don't pay. I'm gonna vote yes on these because I want to keep living here.

June Gordon

Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 1:04 p.m.

A surplus is a good thing. It will be used to pay down the Water Street debt, which means that this millage will disappear that much more quickly. The council has said that any surplus from the income tax will go toward the Water St millage. No one saw what was coming in the Great Recession. The implication that all of these figures are just made up simply because the projections for those recession years were off is misleading and disingenuous. NO ONE saw that coming. As the article states, the figures changed AS MORE INFORMATION BECAME AVAILABLE from the tax study and the assessments. Maybe they should have said nothing until all of the information became available, but there was pressure to start talking about how this would come together. For all of the defeatists working against these proposals, we still have yet to hear any plan for what they will do when the money runs out? What about the public safety and city services that are at risk? Don't let them jeopardize our future for their selfish rhetoric. Be a part of a stable, safe community - vote YES on BOTH on May 8th. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 1:52 p.m.

YCR - And let's not forget the AATA millage that passed but lo and behold, won't be enough money for AATA.

Ypsilanti City Resident

Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 1:45 p.m.

just like the 2001 Road Millage we voted for, was supposed to be gone in 10 yrs. They just renewed and now call it the 2010 Road Millage. Read your tax bill. We have not been told the truth in the past so why believe them now???


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 1:02 p.m.

Dear ? Yeh........ shame on those &quot;onerous and small-minded who are in the habit of launching PERSONAL ATTACKS against anyone who posts an opinion contrary to theirs. For Shame&quot; Hmmmm???

Paul Schreiber

Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 1:01 p.m.

The latest projections are conservative and will result in a balanced budget for 5+ years. The five-year budget plan passed by Ypsilanti city council will provide stable police, fire, and support services that will protect not only financial investments, but also the time, energy, and volunteer services of so many in our community. The alternative to the five-year plan is further staffing cuts and an uncertain future.


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 1:08 p.m.

And EMU will start paying for services!! Don't forget that part!


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 1 p.m.

I am voting YES on both in May and I'll tell you why I'm voting yes for the income tax. EMU will FINALLY be ponying up. Yes, it will come from the employees, but they will finally be paying toward city services that they use. THIS IS HUGE! And I would tell everyone that adding 6000 people to the tax role will cement Ypsilanti's financial future. And if it turns out we do end up with over surplus, I vote it goes to Water Street. There's no point in bitching about what a bad decision it was. It's been made. It's over. It's done with. We need to deal with it now, and stop complaining about it. Complaining about it isn't going to fix the issue. YES to both in May! Make EMU start paying their share!!!

greg, too

Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 9:25 p.m.

I'm trying to be civil, but that is the most idiotic argument the pro tax people have. And instead of &quot;bitching&quot; about the bad decision to buy Water St., you would prefer to &quot;bitch&quot; about the biggest employer in the city? So what you are saying is that the residents of Ypsi who work at EMU need to pay a larger share because of some ill feelings you have towards the school? Did they not accept you when you applied? What about the residents of other cities who work for other local businesses? They drive on the same roads and use the same run down infrastructure you do. I am sure that not every single employee at every single establishment in the city is a property tax paying resident, so why don't you complain about the bartenders, waitresses, i.t. people, etc. at other businesses? Instead, you aim your vitriol at the largest in the city, one that brings in a lot of money and employs a lot of the city's residents. You are aware that a good portion of the college heights and normal park areas is filled with EMU people, either students, faculty, staff, or alums? So based on your &quot;logic,&quot; they are not paying enough to make you happy?

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 12:48 p.m.

Unfortunately I don't get a vote in this election. I do have some advice for the citizens of Ypsilanti, however. I have the &quot;privilege&quot; of personally paying about $16,000 a year in property taxes in Ypsilanti because I foolishly believed that Ypsilanti was a great place to live and would continue to prosper. In the current situation, I'd happily sell my property for HALF it's current assessment. Let me know and it's yours. If you tax something, you get less of it. Do you want more jobs? If you put an income tax in place, fewer jobs will be created in your town. Some jobs will move out, lowering the value of your existing commercial buildings. If you raise property taxes even further, that will lower the value of your homes and commercial buildings. I suggest you ask the following question of your political leaders: if the city is in such &quot;bad&quot; financial shape, how come your outstanding debt is rated so highly by the bond rating agencies? An &quot;A2&quot; rating is an excellent investment grade rating! Sure the rating agencies aren't perfect but they are a lot more careful these days than before. This is a manufactured &quot;crisis&quot; in my opinion and you are being hoodwinked. I'd like to see the financial projections that were provided to the rating agencies!!

greg, too

Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 10:11 p.m.

"A lot of what I read seems to indicate that the housing crisis has bottomed out or is close to it," he said. "There was no magic behind the changes (in property value estimates)." That is dangerously incorrect information to base their numbers on. In some parts of Ann Arbor, there has been stabilization and minor growth, but not in Ypsi. Values are still going down and will the glut of properties in pre-foreclosure and short sale he$#, they will only continue to go down. And, on the fluke chance they do go up, property owners will get the double whammy of increased taxes on increasing assessments, some of which are way out of whack and the city will just push itself into a different crisis.

Glen S.

Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 12:13 p.m.

As is the case in many struggling Michigan cities, the Ypsilanti City Council is attempting to plan for the future in the middle of a highly volatile economy and housing market -- and ever-changing tax and spending policies out of Lansing. While specific projections may continue to change, the overall budget picture has not: Ypsilanti faces a long-term, structural budget deficit, and without a substantial new source of revenue, our community will not be able to continue delivering core public safety services -- including police and fire protection -- beyond the next 2-3 years. Meanwhile, people like &quot;?&quot; are working overtime on sites like this, spreading their anti-government, anti-tax philosophy and pointing fingers at past officials and past decisions without offering a single idea or suggestion about how we are going to pay for City services, going forward. To anyone who is interested in moving beyond such rhetoric, and learning more about these two proposals and what they will mean for Ypsilanti, please visit: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>.


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 1:29 p.m.

Yeah, I haven't seen any other solutions from anyone else. What do that want us to do? Sit back and watch the city fall apart? How's that gonna keep people here? Get serious or go home. I don't want to live in a city where the State Police are our cops.

no flamers!

Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 12:56 p.m.

I agree with Glenn S.--if you don't have a solution, then you have nothing interesting to say. That said, I disagree with an income tax because I think it will drive people out of town. And given the scepticism evident on this page, it is clear to me that the City will need to be bound to stop collecting whichever tax (income or property or both) if the surplus does happen. People voting for this tax are voting in large part b/c of the structural deficit, and won't tolerate a surplus being used to increase services and wages for city unions.

Mark Hergott

Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 11:39 a.m.

I am going to vote for the Water Street Debt service millage. I won't be voting for the income tax. First, it is unfair to the people that work at EMU, and EMU is undergoing its own budget crisis. We ought to build on the good will that was formed with the Cross street project. The simple answer to our problems is to widen the tax base. An income tax does not widen the tax base, it just taxes the people who work here and live here more. So... what does widen the tax base? A regional public safety authority. If Superior Charter Township, Ypsilanti, and Ypsilanti Charter Township all had the same police force, with the same pension and health care fund, we would be in a much better position. Of course, that would be years and years of hard work. A regional fire authority is actually closer. It makes no sense to have a box alarm system with a fractured tax base and disparate bargaining units. Of course, going through with that would be years and years of hard work. We are wasting time on something that the majority handily defeated in 2007.

City Confidential

Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 3:23 p.m.

From below: @Ypsilanti Resident and Eastside Mom and others – Fact Check: The proposed Water Street debt millage can ONLY be used for the specific Water Street debt. The millage rate would be established every year to provide the necessary revenue to make that year's principal and interest payments. Those amounts will be reduced by any taxes generated on the Water Street site through the Tax Implement Plan or from any payments made out or city reserves or other sources. The five year plan calls for one half to be paid out of reserves - $3.8M over five years. When the debt is totally paid off or can be paid with other sources, the Water Street Debt Millage disappears. As to the Road millage approved by voters, a few years ago we issued refunding bonds to restructure one issue of the Road bond to take advantage of lower interest rates and saved City tax payers a few hundred thousand dollars. (I assume you would approve?) One road debt issue expires in FY 2018 and the other in FY 2020. These were always 15-20 year bonds.

Ypsilanti City Resident

Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 3:09 p.m.

To City Confidential: Just like the Street Millage was for 10 years. And what about any sales of Water Street Property, what will that be spend on?

City Confidential

Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 2:43 p.m.

Ypsilanti City Resident: Where are you getting that from? You are wrong. This millage is specifically for Water Street, legally required to be used to pay for Water Street only. When Water Street is paid off, the millage ends. It will not go into the general fund.


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 2:41 p.m.

@June, I only wish it was false, but it is true. The bus and street millages are examples. What is the city's plan when these proposals fail is the real question.

Ypsilanti City Resident

Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 1:38 p.m.

There is no guarantee, if water street property sells, that the city would use the funds to pay on the Bond. If they have the millage , that money would be put in the General Fund for more foolish spending.


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 1:37 p.m.

Mark, all of those folks who come to town to work and then go home at night would start contributing a little something - that's how it widens the tax base. Non-residents.

June Gordon

Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 1:10 p.m.

Eastside mom. Everything you just said is FALSE. The millage will go away when the debt does and it cannot be used for anything but that debt. Deception and ignorant conspiracy theories like this are only meant to confuse the facts in voters' minds.


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 12:41 p.m.

Mark: if only the millage passes, (the floating millage) then a simple majority of 4 council persons can raise that to cover all all kinds of things ...and if Water Street does manage to sell, then those funds from the millage will not go away. Read above, they will have too much money? Vote NO on both May 8th.

Mark Hergott

Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 12:39 p.m.

The water street package needs to be paid one way or the other. It ought to have been through a bond vote to begin with. Getting it paid for will take some pressure off the budget. Besides, thanks to my house losing money on my assessment, I am going to not pay any more.


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : noon

God bless you! I appreciate your resolve but I question your decision Why should you and me pay for the BAD decisions of the rich and uncaring people who destroyed our town?.

Ypsilanti City Resident

Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 11:12 a.m.

Send the bill to Jennifer Goulet and Cheryl Farmer. They also extended the DDA's in 2003 when they were due to expire, for another 20 Years. The City pays part of the Police and Fire millage and the DPW millage to these funds each year.


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 11:07 a.m.

...and now, the PRO TAX FOLKS keep on changing their stories. FLIP FLOP! FLIP FLOP!


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 11:02 a.m.

The Headley Amendment became law to protect homeowners by limiting rapidly increasing property taxes. This safeguard is law for a reason. Our Ypsilanti property taxes are already among the highest. I can't take any more. VOTE NO on increased property taxes!!

June Gordon

Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 1:24 p.m.

Can you take massive cuts to public services and public safety? How about your neighbors? Can they take living in an unstable community with inadequate protection services? Don't jeopardize us all because you don't want to protect your community.


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 11:01 a.m.

THE POWER TO TAX IS THE POWER TO DESTROY AUTHOR: Daniel Webster (1782–1852) QUOTATION: "The power to tax is the power to destroy." ATTRIBUTION: This quotation comes from the words of DANIEL WEBSTER and those of JOHN MARSHALL in the Supreme Court case, McCulloch v. Maryland. Webster, in arguing the case, said: "An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, a power to destroy," 17 U.S. 327 (1819). In his decision, Chief Justice Marshall said: "That the power of taxing it [the bank] by the States may be exercised so as to destroy it, is too obvious to be denied", and "That the power to tax involves the power to destroy … [is] not to be denied"


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 11 a.m.

A MATTER OF TRUST This entire discussion about increasing our taxes is, for me, a matter of trust. The Farmer administration has received lots of criticism for the Water Street debacle but little has been mentioned of a long list of their other mistakes which will continue to damage our community for many years to come. They betrayed our trust through their arrogance and misfeasance. Thankfully, most of that cartel either resigned or was defeated at the polls. Now, we have a new regime at city hall trying to fix the tax vote by withholding pertinent negative information and by using cheap scare tactics. These under-handed tactics may help them to convince enough uninformed voters to pass these new taxes and burden all of us with even more crushing taxes. I hope not. Our taxes are already too high. The current administration will waste any increased taxes and then come back later for even more taxes. It's time to just say, NO! Sadly, I simply don't trust our elected officials anymore

City Confidential

Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 1:51 p.m.

Ypsilanti has one of the lowest per capita spending rates in the state. We spend $1136 per capita. Compare that to Ann Arbor's $2487 or Detroit's $4065. We are lean and efficient. The rates may be high, but the value basis is low, so the per capita spending and collection are not out of line with other communities. In fact, 17 cities spend more than twice what we do per capita.


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 10:58 a.m.

DON'T BE RAILROADED AGAIN! The Ypsi mayor &amp; council are doing their sneaky best to pass these huge tax increases. Why else did they make sure that their "study" did not include any mention of the negative effects that an income tax has already had on most of the 22 Michigan cities that already have the tax? Voters want full disclosure instead of sneaky tactics.


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 6:34 p.m.

Exactly...that's why they are pushing it through in May instead of November when more people vote...


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 10:57 a.m.

MAYOR &amp; COUNCIL WITHHOLD IMPORTANT INFORMATION What are the BEFORE AND AFTER AFFECTS on the cities which already have an income tax? Why is this information not included in the study? What happened to the business and household populations of the income tax cities and the surrounding towns? Why have the mayor and council purposely kept this important information hidden? This is just more of the same that created the Water Street fiasco. Do they really think we are dumb enough to fall for that again? This is really under-handed and sneaky! Is anyone else ticked-off at the way these TAX-PROMOTERS are trying to trick the voters by withholding very important information?


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 2:24 p.m.

I have watched friends and family scam Detroit, year in and year out to avoid taxes. They may not move but they will cheat . Homeowners will have a harder time leaving but they will and renters, why would you stay and pay?

June Gordon

Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 1:21 p.m.

Tax flight is a MYTH. People flee cities that are dangerous, unstable and lack basic services. Cities that have good city services, are safe, clean and have affordable and good quality housing are attractive to people and businesses. We need additional revenue to stay safe and stable. Trying to compare &quot;other cities with an income tax&quot; (like Detroit) is not a fair comparison - Detroit has an income tax rate of 150% more than what we are asking. 1 vs 2.5%. There are 22 Michigan cities with an income tax in Michigan. Lapeer, Grayling, Big Rapids, Grand Rapids, Ionia... it's not the income tax that is the problem - it's the crime and instability that underfunding causes.


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 10:54 a.m.

AS I SEE IT I think it important to acknowledge that most residents of Ypsilanti really care for our town. After that, we seem to disagree on about everything else. Particularly onerous and small-minded is the habit of some who launch a PERSONAL attack against anyone who posts an opinion contrary to theirs. For shame! Instead of engaging in more fruitless arguments among neighbors, I suggest that we do the following: Let's SEND THE BILL TO THE ONES WHO GOT US IN THIS MESS! Cheryl Farmer Ed Koryzno Barry LaRue Brian Filipiak Trudy Swanson Lois Richardson John Gawlas Bill Nickels The "city planners" should be listed here too, but they left town.


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 3:20 p.m.

nothing but the facts folks


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 3:08 p.m.

no flamers: I don't see this as a personal attack. I see it as using history to avoid another debacle by a clueless council just a the current council seems to clueless. I think AS I SEE IT is trying alert the citizens of Ypsilanti to another possible debacle and the citizens need to be aware of such a possibility. The people mentioned in his blog is indeed responsible for this current mess and the city planners who were a part of the mess fled town as soon as they recognized the problem. The only leftover from that bunch is Lois Richardeson and God help the citizens of Yosilanti if she is allowed to run things.

no flamers!

Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 12:49 p.m.

Your post does exactly what you implore others to not do--personally attack others. Can't we agree that it is personal attack to list and target former city officials in trying to rally the troops to &quot;SEND THE BILL TO THE ONES WHO GOT US IN THIS MESS!&quot;? Water Street looks foolish with the benefit of hindsight. But for all the critics, I'd suggest that we look for contemporaneous comments (from you or others) challenging it back when it launched in the &quot;boom&quot; years.