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Posted on Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 8:47 a.m.

3 millage increases, 1 renewal for core services will be on Ypsilanti Township's Aug. 6 ballot

By Tom Perkins

Comments from the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Department have been added to the story.

Ypsilanti Township residents will be asked to approve three millage increases at the polls on Aug. 6.

Without approval, township officials say residents would see deep cuts to public safety and core services.


Millage increases are being sought for services such as the fire department in Ypsilanti Township.

Tom Perkins | For

If all three are approved, homeowners would pay an additional combined 1.75 mills for fire protection, police protection and solid waste collection. That means a homeowner with a house with taxable value of $100,000 would annually pay an additional $175 in taxes if all three were passed.

The township’s property values have dropped by 35 percent since 2007. At current rates, projections have the fire fund running a deficit of around $962,000 in 2017; the police fund running a deficit of $508,000 by 2015 and increasing to $3.1 million by 2017; and the solid waste fund running a deficit of $1.5 million by 2017.

“If the residents like the services, the number of police officers, composting, recycling, garbage collection, brush pickup, keeping all the fire stations open, then it's imperative that they vote yes on all the millage proposals,” said Township Clerk Karen Lovejoy Roe.

Voters will be asked to approve millage increases of:

  • .325 mills for fire service, which would raise the millage to 3.125 mills and annually generate an additional estimated $370,671.
  • .950 mills for police protection, which would raise the millage to 5.95 mills and would annually generate an additional estimated $1,083,502.
  • .475 mill increase for garbage, refuse collection, recycling, composting, disposal of solid waste, energy conservation, alternative energy, water quality and environmental protection, which would increase the millage to 2.155 mills and annually generate an estimated $541,751.
  • Renew the roads millage which will not increase and is set at 1.0059 mills.

The $6.5 million revenue loss from the tax base largely has been offset by not filling 31 staff retirements at the township hall, and the township is operating with eight fewer firefighters and 11 fewer police officers than it had in 2007.

Township staff has not had a pay increase since 2008 and received a 3 percent pay reduction in 2009. All employees now make greater contributions to their pension and pay a monthly fee for health care.

In 2007, the last year of stable property values and stable revenues in Ypsilanti Township, a 1-mill tax rate generated $1,764,636. Today, a 1-mill tax rate generates $1,140,529.

The combined 5 mills for police protection would have generated $8,823,180 in 2007, but would only generate $5,702,645 in 2013 — a difference of $3,120,535.

Sheriff's Department spokesman Derrick Jackson highlighted that fewer officers does not mean fewer calls for service, but will mean fewer officers to respond to crime and a decreased response time.

He said the township has seen a decrease in major crime within Ypsilanti Township since the township was able to add several deputies in recent years, though police staffing numbers still remain below 2009 levels.

"That is directly related to the outstanding proactive work done by our deputies," he said. "Having fewer deputies on the road does not allow for proactive policing, but forces us to only be reactive. When you are reactive you are already failing the community because you need a victim to react to.

"We would prefer to prevent crime from happening, not respond after a resident has been victimized."

The numbers also allow the Sheriff's Department to focus resources on specific duties such as OWI enforcement, quality of life issues and prevention programs, Jackson said.

The fire department millage would have generated $4,940,980 but now only generates $3,193,481 — a difference of $1,747,499.

Ypsilanti Township Fire Chief Eric Copeland said the fire department has tightened its belt, reduced costs, got concessions from the union and streamlined its operation, but he said that can’t make up for a loss of a third of the department’s operating revenue.

“We need a boost of revenue but what we’re asking for is modest. It isn’t a cure all,” Copeland said. “It doesn’t solve the problem, but we also understand residents felt (the recession), too, so we aren’t asking for the full increase, but just restore some of what we lost.”

Lovejoy Roe said a failure of the millages would lead to "drastic, draconian cuts".

"It's not anything pleasant to ask for an increase, but we're doing what needs to be done, and as leaders of the community and the township board, we had no choice," she said.

Tom Perkins is a freelance reporter. Contact the news desk at


E. Daniel Ayres

Wed, Aug 7, 2013 : 12:17 a.m.

Ever since I came to Ypsilanti in 1968, I've been baffled by the number of little jurisdictions and the administrative overhead costs of multiple governments where one could serve. The school systems of Willow Run and Ypsilanti were finally consolidated in the face of the overwhelming costs of this ridiculous situation. The same should be done by combining the City of Ypsilanti and the surrounding township and leveling the tax bases for all residents. In the meantime it does not make sense for property owners to cut off their noses to spite their faces by defeating millage designed only to preserve the current levels of service, as meager and flawed as they are. What this election shows and this discussion has emphasized is just how misinformed most people are about where our tax money goes and how completely and insanely fragmented decision making has become. Why do we have a "fire fund" and a "Police fund" when public safety funds should be allocated? The answer is political haggling leading to lawmaking which divides everything up into little bits and pieces that administrators swallow up in salaries and benefits while rank and file workers get cuts and pension reductions. The sooner we wise up and demand less governmental entities and more rational service areas the better off we will be.


Sat, Aug 3, 2013 : 4:10 p.m.

And I just read where DTE will be raising rates by $1 a month to help fund low income residents bill. Another $12 off what I can afford to give people who need help. Where does it end?


Sat, Aug 3, 2013 : 3:57 p.m.

I don't see fast food places, retail stores, and most other places giving raises to cover this increase to their property taxes. Does the township just assume these citizens don't own homes. Well they do own homes and are living paycheck to payceck as it is. Even a small property tax increase is devasting when you're working 2 jobs and depending on charity to get by. I already help people living on limited incomes make ends meet, but we have made the difficult decision to decrease the amount we help people by the amount our taxes will go up ($200). I think two of the people we help will be citizens who vote for the increase! The township and unions need to think private 401k's instead of pensions and consider different health care plans with increased copays like the rest of the citizens. Does no one realize the system as it is, can't continue? Detroit didn't either until recently.

Tony Rizzo

Sun, Jul 28, 2013 : 2:13 a.m.

I earn my money by working hard, just like any other Twp resident. But I'd rather pay a few bucks extra, and be safe. I'm voting YES without hesitation.

David Muzzatti

Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 1:25 p.m.

Where can I buy a Cougar? Sincerely, No Home Landscaping


Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 10:31 a.m.

One other thing to remember is that police protection is not guaranteed to any citizen. I've never been for violence but I'm a firm believer in Stand your Ground and the 2nd Amendment to the Republic State of America.....I will defend myself, my family and my property till the police can arrive. Thankfully in the 7+ years that I have lived in the Township I have not had to, but rest assure I will if I'm provoked by a bad guy trying to rid me of happiness that I've worked my but off for. The township really needs to think about it's citizens here and they are not. They are trying to rob us and most of us can see right through what they are asking for, oh and thanks Ypsilanti Township for being so honest in your flyers, you need to start telling the people the truth rather than hiding it. Perhaps others cannot see it, but I can see right through the smoke and deception.........


Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 10:26 a.m.

I have spoken with a lot of people regarding this, one of them a retired ff from the township. The township does not want you to know that this is a "maintenance" milage and for the fire department will only be to retain what they currently have. To vote no for the fire department means that we will lose more fire fighters to which we cannot do so because they are already operating at below minimum staffing. Providing police protection is not the job of the County Sheriff. Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti township still have a better option of merging and forming the Ypsilanti Area Police Department that could include, Ypsilanti City, Township, Augusta, Ann Arbor Township and Superior Twp. However, the township is not interested in that instead they want more of our money at a time when property values are still tanking. My $162,000 home as of right now is barely worth $30,000 but they want me to keep forking out all this money for services and that is completely unfair. The price per deputy no matter what the township tells you is $170,000 + and that is ludicrious at best. That money could pay for 3 police officers if they went the other way. The township also is wasting money by continuing to allow HVA to fire dispatch our fire department. I tried to exchange emails with the township before they did that and they thought it was a cost affective move to which it was not. Even the FF's don't agree that it was a good move. The point here is that my property and home values keep tanking, I still have to pay my morgage and yet they want me to pay for garbage pick up? Pay for parks that I don't even use? and for Police protection that should have never been provided by the sheriff department in the first place and that price keeps going up and up and up?? I think not. Ypsilanti Township is crazy if they think that I'm going to vote for this. I will vote yes for my fire deparment because these guy's need it, the rest I will vote no on.


Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 3:19 a.m.

Want services then you need to pay for them. I understand questioning how much but without any milages there is not money to pay for service. The way I read this is that these are in essence renewals with some added on. Vote them down and there is no money coming in to pay for service. That's not a very difficult equation to figure out. I will be voting yes on all three. Oh, and my home lost nearly 40% of its value and I'm still voting yes.

Centennial Dan

Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 3:02 a.m.

"My house has never been on fire and i've never been robbed, therefore there is no use for funding for police or fire departments." -insinuation of some above statements


Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 2:14 a.m.

There are several salaried employees that make 70+ thousand annually, not to mention that the township pays the contracted attorneys well over 95+ thousand per MONTH every month. Some areas to look at trimming I would say. Quit trying to get it off of the poor mans back!


Sat, Aug 3, 2013 : 4:06 p.m.

Bmann, a good township manager does not ask the $8 -$9 worker to fund bigger raises for township employees, while the low wage earner sinks even further into poverty. I didn't see any township workers or unions supporting the fast dood workers recent protest against low wages.


Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 2:56 a.m.

Wow YTResident. "There are several salaried employees that make $70K+ annually". That's ridiculous! What's minimum wage right now? $8-$9 bucks an hour? That's what these people should be earning. After all, it can't be any harder to run a township the size of Ypsi tpownship than it is to flip burgers or stuff groceries into a bag.


Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 1:10 a.m.

How much of the tax increase will be skimmed off by tifas?

Basic Bob

Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 1:16 a.m.

A lot of that depends on whether the township hires a professional grant writer to leverage borrowed money from other units of government.


Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 1:08 a.m.

"At any rate, no matter what, taxes can never increase year over year faster than five per cent. That is the truth." No sir, it is not. You are mistaking taxable value for taxes. If you are in a township with a millage rate of 35 mills, your taxable value stays the same, and the voters pass a 3.5 mill increase for one thing or another, your taxes are going up by 10%. That is the truth.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 2:56 a.m.

I wasn't addressing this case. I was addressing the 100% false assertion that taxes cannot rise more than 5% in a single year, "no matter what."

Centennial Dan

Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 2:53 a.m.

the proposed increase is 1.75 mill... and the total millage rate is 53.19.


Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 10:27 p.m.

Is there any way to streamline operations? I recall during the investigation of the scandal-ridden housing department, it seemed like they had 8 people in charge of a program distributing housing funds to like 40 people (I forget the actual numbers, but it definitely seems like a lot of staff, and the department was, surprise surprise, being mismanaged and wasting money). I think it would be an unpleasant shock if every wasteful expenditure and overlapping department and bloated red tape situation were to come to light; this is what happens when tax money is guaranteed to roll in. This seems like a tight spot for the residents of Ypsi, but I imagine there's still more ways to save money (or spend it smarter) without just upping taxes. Perhaps a look at re-defining the whole "bucket" philosophy? Remember Water Street. And watch out for this whole AATA-->AAATA thing; that whole public transportation thing seems like a money sink. Isn't there a SPARK office in Ypsi now? Somehow SPARK has had the monetary health to expand to 3 more locations and increase staff. Hmmmm.....


Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 8:43 a.m.

Maybe next time before sounding off, read the article. Ypsilanti Township does NOT have a housing department. Also Water Street is in downtown Ypsilanti, not Ypsilanti Township. Reading is a fundamental skill.


Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 10:42 p.m.

RU, FYI- City of Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township are two separate entities, with their own governments, services, and millage rates. Your points address Ypsilanti City, not the Township.

Basic Bob

Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 10:19 p.m.

Pass the public safety millage so the township can build a four lane boulevard to its richest neighborhood. Sorry, wrong township.


Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 7:54 p.m.

I would encourage anyone who believes that the millages are not required to maintain the current township services to please call, email or stop by. The information related to our current audit is on line and has been filed with the State of Michigan. The millages are for only four years. Most projections regarding assessments are projecting over 20-30 years until our property assessments return to the amount they were before this economic crisis. Many, many properties lost over 50% of their value and most at least a third. It would take double digit increases in our property values for each of the four years of the millage to get our assessment even close to where they were. Even if the assessments did rise as one person pointed out the taxes can not go up more than 3% per year as required to be limited by state law. Every voter has the absolute right to vote however he or she wants to. It is important to understand that without the millages their just will not be the same services we enjoy today. Unlike a lot of governments Townships can NOT spend more dollars then they have. Township government can not operate in a deficit. Township government MUST balance their books. The law requires it! If you have any questions please just give us a call..we will be happy to provide you with any additional information you need. Thank you, Karen Lovejoy Roe, Ypsilanti Township Clerk


Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 6:13 p.m.

I definitely appreciate the refuse collection and the weekly brush collection in the warmer months so I will certainly vote for that, not sure about the other three tough.


Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 5:04 p.m.

If you vote no, how much smaller would you like the Department to be, and what impact will that have on your home or commercial building insurance rates. You might want to check with your agent.

Mr. Ed

Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 5:57 p.m.

You need to look at a mutal aid agreement with Ypsilanti City, Superior Twp. Or you need to combine into a East side Fire dept. Reduce cost be creative stop passing the tax increases. Again the sky is falling, insurance rates going up. Were gonna cut to the bone so we wont have any services. Be leaders and be creative.


Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 5:01 p.m.

Just FYI- In 1987, the Fire Millage was around 3.8 mills and supported a department of 36, 11 Fire suppression per shift and a minimum of 9 on duty. Since that time, the millage has been reduced and shifted to provide more ability to hire more Police. Now the millage for Fire sits at 2.8 and you have a daily minimum of 6 to cover about 32 square miles.

Mr. Ed

Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 4:20 p.m.

The sky is falling the sky is falling. I think you need to tighten belts just a little more. It would seem to me someone is making money from all the property cases in the twp. Weve all had to tighten our belts. Smaller government is necessary.

Ypsi Eastsider

Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 3:18 p.m.

What is the current millage rate and what would be the new millage rate if all these pass in the Township. How does the Township millage rate compare with neighboring communities such as the City of Ann Arbor and City of Ypsilanti?


Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 3:14 p.m.

What about the money the township so readily willing to loan Ypsilanti to have Grove Road redone? Surely, if we have the surplus to offer loans, it would stand to reason there is money somewhere?


Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 4:01 p.m.

The Township also has enough money to fund all the recreation programs for city residents and to donate the land that the library sits on rather than make all the communities that form the library district pay a fair share. The Township pays more annually for the City pool than City residents. We fix their roads, help put out their fires, and now they are negotiating to pay for city bus service. Just say No, No, No.

Mark Hergott

Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 3:34 p.m.

Grove Road was a serious demonstration of the emotional and administrative schism between the two communities called "Ypsilanti". At any rate, I believe there was a surplus in the road fund or funds that the township uses. It is much easier to use funds meant for roads to fix roads in a neighboring community than it is to use funds meant for roads to pay for firefighters or deputies in one's own community, just because of the inherent nature of municipal budgets. The township desperately does not want to have houses burn down or people robbed because of a reduction in public safety personnel. Of course, with mutual aid for the fire department and police departments being reactionary to robberies to begin with, maybe that impulse is not the most reasonable. However, there will definitely be a serious reduction in soft services like trash and road maintenance if these millages do not pass. The roads can be a little bumpy. People can adapt to reduced waste services. The sky will not fall if these taxes are not approved. But things will definitely change.

Mark Hergott

Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 3:04 p.m.

Everyone says "when the property values increase, the township treasury will be bloated". That's just not true. See, with Proposal A in place, your property taxes cannot increase more than five percent year over year. Generally, inflation is less than five per cent, but with the cratering of property values, we can expect property taxes to increase by five per cent for the next few years as home prices rebound. In any event, Ypsilanti township has suffered a serious blow to its tax base with the Willow Run plant closing and personal property taxes being phased out, along with the loss of property ax value. Residents either have to pay more, or have less. Nobody likes to hear that, and the people that want to cite incompetence or greed or any other vice tend to have a very persuasive poetry on this site. I speak in prose. The township may indeed do its best to provide adequate services to its residents if these millage proposals fail. However, the short term benefits of those maneuvers will be outweighed by the long term costs. At any rate, no matter what, taxes can never increase year over year faster than five per cent. That is the truth.

1982 Brew Crew

Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 2:31 p.m.

While I want a reasonably funded police department (much less then other 3 departments) because law enforcement is critical in my view, I won't vote for any millage increase that does not expire in 2-3 years, so that if/when property values increase we are not left with larger government


Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 2 p.m.

Here we go again! Found an old article from the 2009 police millage that was voted down: Notice the same doom and gloom coming from the township "leadership"? The same doom and gloom which never materialized even though the millage was defeated?


Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 1:58 p.m.

"Township staff has not had a pay increase since 2008 and received a 3 percent pay reduction in 2009. All employees now make greater contributions to their pension and pay a monthly fee for health care." That's terrible, how can they survive? Oh, wait...I don't get a pension and my health care jumps every year. And usually for a raise I need to take on more responsibility or provide more value. No such thing as a cost of living wage increase in the private sector.


Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 10:58 p.m.

Change the benefits being offered to be more like the rest of industry. No more paid pensions. Only provide 401ks.


Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 5:06 p.m.

Maybe you should have learned how to run in and out of burning buildings, saving lives and property, or respond to a gang fight or there still time for a career change?


Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 1:53 p.m.

I would easily vote yes if when property values rebounded (which they are at the moment) those mills would decrease to where they were. But surely that isn't the case.


Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 1:15 p.m.

Vote No on all three increases. Back in 2007, the township had huge surpluses. Now they have what they need to fund essential services. When the real estate market rebounds, our millage rate will still remain high. Let's keep the Township affordable for families!

Centennial Dan

Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 9:45 p.m.

These proposed millage rates are for four years and i doubt (taxable) property values will "rebound" by 35.5 % by then. I haven't made up my mind on which way to vote, but it is definitely something to think about. Especially when we have plenty of examples of what it is like in cities with underfunded fire and police departments so close to us here in SE Michigan.