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Posted on Tue, May 8, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Ypsilanti voters to decide on Water Street millage, income tax

By Tom Perkins

Ypsilanti voters go to the polls today to decide whether to approve a proposed citywide income tax and Water Street debt retirement millage.

The proposals are integral parts of a five-year financial plan developed by city staff and city council that officials say will avert a $6.1 million deficit projected for 2017.

The income tax would be set at 1-percent for residents and 0.5-percent for those employed in the city, including 6,000 Eastern Michigan University employees. It’s projected to generate $1 million in fiscal year 2013 and approximately $10 million through 2017, according to an income tax analysis commissioned by the city.

The income tax would be effective on January 1, 2013.

The city is paying $30 million on its Water Street bond debt. It must continue to make payments through 2031, and the amounts will grow to $1.7 million annually by 2015.

The Water Street debt retirement millage residents will see on the ballot is for 4.94 mills in fiscal year 2013. That rate would grow to 7.12 mills by 2017. But as part of the five-year plan, city council voted to use savings to pay half the Water Street debt. That would allow the city to cut the millage rate in half.

In that scenario, homeowners would pay a new millage rate of 2.35 mills in fiscal year 2013, which would grow to 3.55 mills by 2017.

The full millage would is projected to generate $7.7 million.

Aside from the Water Street debt payments, property tax revenues are projected to fall 30 percent, from $7.2 million in 2010 to $5 million in 2017, which is among one of the largest financial challenges facing the city.

In his recent State of the City address, Mayor Paul Schreiber said failure of either measure will force the city to make significant cuts in police, fire and other city services. He highlighted that Ypsilanti has cut staff by one third over the last 10 years from 139 employees in 2002 to 93 today.

A proposed budget for fiscal years 2013 and 2014 that assumes no new revenue from an income tax or Water Street debt includes cuts to 10 more full-time position, including seven from the fire department.

An opposition group called Stop City Income Tax has contended that taxes in Ypsilanti are already high, and even higher taxes would drive away businesses and residents.

A group campaigning for the proposals, Save Ypsi Yes, has argued that without the new revenues businesses would choose to move elsewhere because of a lack of safety and city services. Group members have also raised fears of sharply increasing insurance rates.


Get Real

Tue, May 8, 2012 : 5:37 p.m.

I will be voting NO today; I refuse to support the ineptitude of the current city leadership. They have done very little to attract new businesses to the city, which is a major reason for our fiscal shortfalls. I sincerely hope that both of these proposals get voted down. We can then begin working to put people in charge who actually have experience turning a city around. Voting along "party lines" has no place in the current era; we need to vote for individuals who are competent enough to look at the big picture, understand what the real issues are and take the appropriate measures to address them.

Martin Church

Tue, May 8, 2012 : 4:41 p.m.

Ether way the citizens of ypsilanti will lose. The question is, is there another way. Till answers are giving and we change leadership and develop this sink hole, the city will continue to steal from the resident for stupid ideas. This is not Ann Arbor, we need a change of policy at the state level that the city has refused to tackle. I have voted NO on both and will work in august and November to put people in position to address the problem at the proper level.


Tue, May 8, 2012 : 2:41 p.m.

Ypsilanti City =The median income is $30,913. Ann Arbor City = The median income is $50,291. Ypsilanti City millage = 80.858 Ann Arbor City millage = 58.6096


Tue, May 8, 2012 : 3:13 p.m.

Cash, Those are the non-homestead exemption rates. But the story is the same for owner occupants: Ypsilanti City homestead exemption millage = 62.8580 Ann Arbor City homestead exemption millage = 45.3008

The Black Stallion3

Tue, May 8, 2012 : 2:37 p.m.

If you are interested in saving yourselves and your family's then vote NO because this city has no idea how to manage the money they had or will have. It is their own pockets that get most of your tax dollars and they still want more. They are unwilling to sacrifice as long as you will keep giving to them. Vote NO, NO, NO.


Wed, May 9, 2012 : 1:09 a.m.

Some city employees in the union don't make squat.


Tue, May 8, 2012 : 12:50 p.m.

Just look at where the City of Detroit has gone with imposing city taxes for residents and working class, failure. The only ones that benefit are the greedy unions, as long as they get those fat pensions and working benefits they could care less about it's own residents.


Wed, May 9, 2012 : 1:07 a.m.

city clowncil and the previous mayors have looted so much not even the unions could keep up.


Tue, May 8, 2012 : 11:06 a.m.

Instead of quoting the politicians, a little info might help. Here are the current property tax rates for Washtenaw County cities, townships. This kind of factual information could help people see where their tax millage is now and help them make decisions. It could help to make this less about "he said, she said" and more about researched facts. There are lots of other sources but here's one:


Tue, May 8, 2012 : 3:31 p.m.

Tom Perkins, I believe your article left out that the proposed income tax will also levy a 1% tax on corporations.

Tom Perkins

Tue, May 8, 2012 : 3:03 p.m.

Cash, There isn't one quote in the story. I paraphrased what Paul Schreiber said in his state of the city address about the number of employees the city has cut. But that's a fact. I also very broadly summarized the two sides' arguments. Other than that, the story is nothing but facts about what the millage rate would be set at, what the taxes would generate, what the income tax rate would be and so on. This couldn't possibly be a more neutral piece.


Tue, May 8, 2012 : 2:32 p.m.

Glen, but you do NOT deny the facts as represented on this chart. Facts are facts. The millage rate now is frightening. Holy smokes. Perhaps your income is unlimited. Many are not so fortunate. Many are living on fixed incomes. Let's not be crass. Some people just plain cannot afford any MORE. Again, reality.


Tue, May 8, 2012 : 2:32 p.m.

agreed Cash, its not surprising there have been so many "op-eds" on this, as they are basically free journalism. But it's troubling when someone can just call something a "myth" because they disagree with it, without showing any reason why it's a "myth" and that story gets front paged.


Tue, May 8, 2012 : 2:23 p.m.

Cinnabar, Yes, let's just use scare tactics. Whatever works. I'm very disappointed with the coverage of this issue here. There has been no "fact checking" by Ann, only the continuous "he said, she said" stuff.


Tue, May 8, 2012 : 1:49 p.m.

Glen, Here are what the mills are going to in Ypsi city: Compare that to the much larger Ypsi Township: And also compare that to AA:


Tue, May 8, 2012 : 12:17 p.m.

Cash as I type this you have 2 down votes. LOL! 2 down votes because you want people to be informed? I'd really like to know who those 2 are.

Glen S.

Tue, May 8, 2012 : 11:57 a.m.

Your chart does nothing to help explain what's being paid for (which services, what level of service); nor does it help to explain what services will be cut if the ballot issues fail. If your only concern is saving a buck, this information is really helpful. As far as helping voters make an informed decision about the future of their community -- not so much.

Glen S.

Tue, May 8, 2012 : 10:16 a.m.

Before you vote, please consider the consequences: A "No" vote will not make the Water Street debt "disappear." It will not punish past City Council members for decisions some didn't like. Nor will it strike a blow against "greedy" public employees, or unions. In fact, the only people who will suffer if the May 8 proposals are defeated are the hard-working Ypsilanti residents, homeowners, and business owners who will end up living daily with the consequences of reduced service – and increasing crime and blight – while our community becomes less attractive to new residents and businesses, and property values tumble even faster. The choice we make on May 8 may be the most important one in Ypsilanti's history – and will likely define our community for decades to come. We cannot "cut our way to prosperity," but we can protect our future as a viable community, by voting "YES" on BOTH ballot questions on May 8.