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Posted on Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 5:57 a.m.

3 millage increases planned for Ypsilanti Township August ballot

By Tom Perkins


Millage increases are being sought for the Ypsilanti Township Police Department and the Ypsilanti Township Fire Department, at 222 S. Ford Blvd., pictured above, as well as other funds.

Tom Perkins | For

Ypsilanti Township will ask residents to approve three millage increases when they go to the polls on Aug. 6.

If all three are approved, residents would pay an additional 1.75 mills for fire protection, police protection and solid waste collection.

If the millages aren’t approved, officials say residents can expect cuts in core services in a township that already has trimmed 50 positions and lost millions of dollars in revenue in the last six years.

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.

If all three millages were passed, a homeowner with a house with a taxable value of $200,000 would annually pay an additional $175 in taxes.

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.

Officials say the drastic drop in revenues Ypsilanti Township has experienced is behind the proposals. The township has seen a 35-percent drop in its property taxes since 2007, which equates to $6.5 million in lost revenues plus another $104,000 in state shared revenue.

Township officials stressed that the millage rate increases are lower than what is needed to maintain current service levels, so they will still look for other ways to more efficiently run the township in order to balance the budget.

“Our goal was to set millages as low as possible to what we felt we could to carry ourselves through 2017,” Treasurer Larry Doe said, adding that the township is projecting property values to stabilize around that time.

“Going through the process, we looked at different options and different funding levels,” said Trustee Mike Martin. “We’re still coming in a little shorter than where we will need to be. But we hope our revenue has bottomed-out and taxable value on our housing can improve, and we can attract some new businesses.

“Nobody likes to raise millage unnecessarily, but we feel this is absolutely necessary to maintain the core services that residents have.”

A committee of Doe, Martin, Trustee Stan Eldridge and accounting director Jabonna Neel met to determine the increase. The township's auditor originally recommended 2 mills, but ultimately the committee decided on 1.75 mills. The Township Board of Trustees unanimously approved the tax recommendations at their April 22 meeting.

The township isn’t asking for an increase on its recreation, bike path, sidewalk, roads, parks and general operations millage, which is set 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 less firefighters and 11 less police officers than it did 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.

Supervisor Brenda Stumbo pointed out that even if the millage is approved, no one in the township will be paying higher taxes than they did in 2007 because property values have dropped so low.

In 2007, the last year of stable property values and stable revenues in Ypsilanti Township, a one-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.

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

Passage of the millage increases would allow the township to avoid making significant cuts to those services and does not include funds for anything like raises or new personnel.

“There are no luxuries in here," Trustee Stan Eldridge said. "This is just getting us by and keeping things where they’re at.”



Sat, Apr 27, 2013 : 10:48 a.m.

And the teapublicans scream. NO!


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 9:22 p.m.

The residents in Ypsilanti Township will receive a letter indicating exactly what the 1.75 millage increase will cost based on your assessed value. A correction to above comments: A home that has a market value of $200,000 therefore an assessed value of $100,000 would have an increase of $175.00 per year and not $350. It is important to remember that for most township property owners even if the millage increase passes the taxes on your property will still be much lower than in 2007 or 2008 when the taxable values began to decline in the township. The reference to the housing commission issue is not an Ypsilanti Township issue but a City of Ypsilanti issue. Ypsilanti Township does not have a housing commission. The decrease in revenues in Ypsilanti Township due to the decrease in property values has been offset by many cost cutting measures the the Township Boards have implemented over the past 6 years. More than 31 positions that became vacant through attrition have not been filled. The township is operating with 8 fewer Fire Fighters and 11 fewer sworn Police Officers. All township employees and elected board members are payping more for pensions and health care. Employee wages and the overall cost of employee benefits have been reduced. Some employees have a combined benefit and wage reduction of over 20%. The millage is for four(4) years from 2013 - 2016. Four years is what the millages and ballot language approving the millages have been set at for many years. It is very hard as an elected official to ask our voters during these very difficult times for a larger millage rate to operate our police and fire services along with our trash/recycling services. Yet the numbers are very clear an increase of 1.75 is necessary to continue to operate the services. Please contact any of the elected officials via telephone or email and we will be happy to give everyone the information needed to make an informed decision. Thank you, Karen Lovejoy Roe, Clerk

Tom Todd

Sat, Apr 27, 2013 : 11:48 a.m.

glimmertwin go move to Detroit


Sat, Apr 27, 2013 : 9:27 a.m.

That's a big increase request. Big. By the way, just how many holidays does the township recognize and pay employees for?


Sat, Apr 27, 2013 : 1:33 a.m.

The fact that you are listing such a large number of positions that have been cut, and yet things are still running fine, shows how wasteful the spending has been historically. Before you raise out taxes you should stop all negotiations with AATA to expand service to the township, stop giving the City of Ypsi money to fix their roads, operate their pool, renovate their Riverside Arts center or run their recreation programs. Why do we pay Winter's law firm exorbitant amounts year after year? Why hasn't the board led the way and taken a 20% wage reduction that other township employees have experienced? Raise three millages this year? NO, NO, NO.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 9:41 p.m.

That's until taxes are reaccessed since property values have already begun to rise in some areas. Please don't look at the man behind the curtin. Big NO! on this one.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 4:32 p.m.

A little governmental prudence in the property value run-up through 2007 would have been nice. But no, no one in government every thinks the party may end anytime soon.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 9:12 p.m.

Spot on. Anyone who was paying attention (I used to work in the mortgage industry) saw this coming in the late 90's. Did people think houses were just going to keep appreciating in perpetuity? Oh wait, I think they did.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 3:50 p.m.

As a Ypsilanti Township voter, I have no idea if I'll vote for this mileage request. My concerns are the following: Why are we paying for the lost in tax revenue that occurred when GM Powertrain left because it sure seems like it ($6.5 Million)? They property should have either been sold by now or eliminated, instead of sitting there as frankly a eyesore. Either way, a concern exist on if there's a tax-shift to residents based on the Township's failed attempt to keep this plant in our community? Why was this (a possible tax increase for Township Residents) not brought onto the table for voters to know or have an idea that could occur during the August 2012 election period? Especially in light of the Homestead Property Tax Credit being reduced for Middle Class Families state-wide, this feels as if its' another shift on the burden of Middle Class families in Ypsilanti Township. Why not pursue business development in the Township to offset costs to its' residents? Many businesses have left besides GM (which was huge) including Sesi's, Ypsi-Arbor Bowling Center, Two Car Dealerships, Spirits Restaurant (that open and closed so quick I could not keep up) and many more. Why is it our Township is NOT attractive to businesses? What exactly are we doing to keep the businesses we have (who pay taxes)? This is a deep area of concern when talk of a tax increase is mentioned? What about the parks? They are not in the best shape either yet no talk of a reasonable mileage to maintain them? Could this have anything to do with businesses leaving our Township ---just a bit? I don't know but curious. Finally, is our Township attractive to businesses? From the inability to sell the former prime land-space of GM Powertrain, there are questions if this true or not? Also, if not, what can we do to change this?


Sat, Apr 27, 2013 : 2:49 a.m.

Not sure if RACER is associated with SPARK, but if so, yes.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 8:53 p.m.

Is this the same plant that SPARK is (according to SPARK) involved in selling, or is that different?


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 7:27 p.m.

1982, Fair point. I read the articles and understand that RACER is suppose to be "marketing" the property. I guess my point is, the plant has been closed since 2009. It's 2013. If RACER is having issues selling the property (understandable) then it should be thrown down. Either way, the property looks like a messy eyesore right now. The same with were Sesi's used to be. Another eyesore. Spirits -- Well if you were to drive up to the location, it could appear they are open but they're not. They left not too long after the place opened. Ypsi-Ann Arbor Bowling Center -- Not good at all. Between the door/window plywood and holed filled parking lot, that is a mess. The point is Ypsilanti Township needs to attract new business along with maintain the businesses we have. Also, Glimmertwin made a fair point about a church being placed in a Industrial Park. Too late review this now as its' a done deal but, Churches as non-profits are not taxable entities.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 7:17 p.m.

Glimmertwin, Churches are non-profit organizations who's land space is non-taxable...but I'm sure you know this :). Point well made.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 5:27 p.m.

>> Why is it our Township is NOT attractive to businesses? They are. There is now a church in an industrial park. That will help pay the bills.

1982 Brew Crew

Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 4:02 p.m.

Note that there was recently (within 2 weeks for sure) a couple great articles on the Willow Run GM plant sale issues. I won't re-has the complicated story, but you'll find some answers to your first question in that story.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 3:45 p.m.

One commenter said Ypsi gov. workers don't have high salaries or outrageous benefits. I'm glad if that's true. However, the problem of bureaucratic bloat is almost ALWAYS something never addressed and only gets worse. As an example, I was appalled at how many staff members were involved in the department that manages affordable housing (the one that got in quite a bit of auditing trouble a while back). I would guess there is more than a bit of duty overlap and overstaffing in other areas that can be addressed without taking MORE money (AGAIN) in taxes. When citizens get less money, we have to tighten our belts and cut out frivolous spending. When government gets less, they just take more to make up for the loss. I would advise people in Ypsi to seriously consider whether this is NECESSARY. Not whether police/fire is necessary, but whether this new tax is necessary to fund it. Once it's in place, you'll have a heck of time getting rid of it. Funny how taxes implemented because of tough times don't seem to go away when things get better, you know?


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 5:52 p.m.

Regardless, the example was just an example. If the gov's involved, you can typically be safe betting there's some overstaffing and overlap at BEST.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 5:24 p.m.

Wasn't that affordable housing issue in Ypsilanti (CIty) and not Ypsilanti Township? I believe this millage is for the township.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 3:28 p.m.

A much fairer way to present this choice would be to say: A) Given the value of a typical house in 2007 in 2013 dollars, how much was paid in taxes in 2013 dollars back in 2007? B) Given the value of a typical house in 2013 in 2013 dollars, how much is paid in taxes in 2013 dollars without these millages? C) Given the value of a typical house in 2013 in 2013 dollars, how much is paid in taxes in 2013 dollars with these millages? I suspect that B < C < A is true, but confirmation would be useful.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 3:05 p.m.

The caption under the photo is misleading, as Ypsilanti Township does not have a "police department." The Twp contracts for police services with Washtenaw County Sheriff. The money would go to pay the deputies that are assigned to the Twp.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 1:58 p.m.

Based on some of these comments, it seems that many have deep pockets and wish to pay more for services received. Making a comparison to other areas with similar problems will only get one in trouble. If that's what you wish to do is pay more taxes, then vote for the millage proposals that will appear on the ballot. I personally am sick and tired of this never ending game played by government employees to continue to tax and spend with total disregard for prudent wages, prudent benefits, fair services and efficient spending habits. Vote for the millage increases, folks! I intend to vote them down.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 7:14 p.m.

Umm...What? Isn't it still Winter & Summer like Weather in both areas of Michigan (Ann Arbor & Ypsilanti Township) at the SAME TIME? LOL, that was a funny response. Moving on....


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 5:10 p.m.

As a matter of clarification - our summer home is in Ann Arbor; our winter home in Ypsi Township. Thus, we pay taxes in at least these two communities.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 3:32 p.m.

Goober, Where do you live in Ypsilanti Township? It seems you live in Ann Arbor based on the totality of your comments here on Ann If that is so, then if the voters in Ypsilanti Township decided to affirm or deny this mileage request, how is this any of your business?


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 3:30 p.m.

Because.... taxes is bad! 'Merica! Libralls taxin' and spendin'! Don't tread on me!


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 3:08 p.m.

Why do people with this argument always ignore the fact that they are not, in this economic climate, "paying more," for services received; as is pointed out in the article, you are actually paying less for the services you are getting, as your property is worth less and you are therefore paying LESS in property taxes than you were in 2007. You are paying less and getting the same service levels you were getting previously. The article points out that the current mills are generating millions less than previously. Why is that hard for you to understand?


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 12:57 p.m.

No more taxes! If we eliminated recycling we could afford everything else without a millage increase. The value of Township living is the low tax rate. Don't ruin it for us.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 12:06 p.m.

Maybe they can make up the shortfall by selling confiscated basketball hoops.

1982 Brew Crew

Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 11:58 a.m.

Does the millage have an expiration date? I would not vote for any increased millage that does not sunset in a couple/few years. With property values stabalized (my property taxes increased last year) and increases projected, we should not be stuck with this millage forever. Once a governmental entity has the money projected, it will spend it. This is true of all branches of government and both political parties.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 9:09 p.m.

Very well said. I am game for a short term millage to help renovate, but not a permanent one that just puts extra dough in the coffers for grins. I think our government needs to remember that the downturn in the economy that caused the lessening of tax income is also hurting on the citizen side too.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 12:17 p.m.

Well said.

Guy Williams

Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 11:35 a.m.

I have the same question raised by Stephen. It would nice to know how we will compare with other jurisdictions if this is approved. I do not agree with Goober that people here are getting anything "gold Plated". The salaries, etc. for our elected officials are very modest for the jobs.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 11:14 a.m.

I'm going to have to think long and hard about this one. We've generally always supported the Twp. But our home's value has lost 48% of its value since 2007. The taxes have dropped 12% in the same time frame.


Mon, Apr 29, 2013 : 1:54 a.m.

Amen.!!.. My taxes went down a whole 12 dollars. the value went down 40%.But I have to say.. our board have cut their own pay and benefits also. Still don't understand how we pay the county taxes which should be for police services and then we pay again for the same services in millages.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 11:09 a.m.

Just like Ann Arbor city leadership. Instead of eliminating waste and trimming gold plated benefit packages to a level consistent with society, they plan to ask the voters for more money. Typical government workers. Always have their hand out asking for more. On top of this - they make threats to our well being. This madness has to stop! Go figure!

Hugh Giariola

Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 10:42 a.m.

**Sorry, can't add, should be $350 for a $200K house.

Hugh Giariola

Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 10:40 a.m.

@Tom, "If all three millages were passed, a homeowner with a house with a taxable value of $200,000 would annually pay an additional $175 in taxes." I believe at 1.75 mils, a $200K homeowner would pay $375 in taxes.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 10:35 a.m.

@Tom Perkins: What is the combined total millage rate paid on properties in Ypsilani Township and how does that compare with neighboring communities like Pittsfield Township, Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor? I think that would be very important info to know.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 8:39 p.m.

@Solitude: I think it should have been information incorporated into the article. Any discussion of raising tax millages in a newspaper article ought to also including a discussion of the current level of the millage overall and how that compares with adjacent jurisdictions.


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 : 3:10 p.m.

That information takes about 2 seconds to obtain via Google.