Ypsilanti City Service Restructuring Options

The following comes from Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schreiber:

Dear Ypsilanti Neighbors and Friends:

Last year the city of Ypsilanti passed a balanced two-year budget to meet its economic challenges. This year’s budget preserves city staff levels and provides funding for road repair and energy conservation improvements (see tables below), but it doesn’t address the reduction in revenues for the upcoming years due to the sharp economic downturn.

Property tax revenues are expected to decrease by 8 percent in 2010, another 8 percent in 2011, and another 10 percent in 2012. State statutory revenue sharing (Michigan sales tax revenues distributed to local governments) is in jeopardy as state tax revenues drop. Ypsilanti’s police, fire, road maintenance, and administration expenditures will remain constant or increase as the city’s two highest sources of revenue decline. City council must make hard decisions that will affect the structure and delivery of services for years to come.

To inform city council and the public of the restructuring options, city staff will make cost-reduction and service-delivery presentations for police, fire, administration, and maintenance services. The dates for the public discussion of options are:

Thursday, July 9 ─ Police services
Tuesday, August 11 ─ Fire services
Tuesday, September 8 ─ Administration
Tuesday, October 13 ─ Public services (road maintenance, etc.)

All meetings will start at 7 p.m. in Ypsilanti city council chambers. I encourage everyone to attend these sessions.

The hard decisions ahead should not overshadow the recent great strides made in the city of Ypsilanti. The SPARK East small-business incubator is training people, J. Neil’s Mongolian Grille and the Keystone Martini Bar are new downtown attractions, the Hope Clinic on Harriet Street is undergoing a $3.2 million renovation, and $850,000 in grants will restart demolition at the Water Street property this year. We must continue development so that Ypsilanti can stay on track as it transforms itself from an industrial city to a city of knowledge, culture, and entertainment.

Best regards,
Paul Schreiber
Mayor, City of Ypsilanti

I know it sounds bad on the face of it, but it’s really not. For one thing, I know for certain that no police and fire personnel will be cut. If you’ll recall, the leaders of the Anti-City Income Tax movement, promised as much. I was concerned about it myself, but I was repeatedly assured that our Mayor was just using “scare tactics” when he talked of such cuts being necessary, should the tax not go through. At any rate, I just wanted to let you to know that you shouldn’t worry about that part of it. Apparently there’s lots and lots of fat to be cut in other areas. (And, yes, that was sarcasm.)

And, here, for those of you who are interested in such things, are the numbers.

ypsibudget09b

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49 Comments

  1. Posted July 1, 2009 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

    I should point out that the City Income Tax thing never had a chance in hell of passing. There was no way, given the local climate, that people were going to vote to pay more taxes. And I’m not pissed that people were against the Mayor’s effort to raise revenues in that fashion. What did piss me off, though, were the ridiculous statements of some that no cuts would have to be made at the police and fire stations. Of course cuts to our fire and police are going to be necessary, and, in my opinion, it was intellectually dishonest of members of the Stop City Income Tax group to accuse the Mayor of employing “scare tactics” when he said as much. And, yeah, it still pisses me off.

  2. Posted July 2, 2009 at 12:06 am | Permalink

    So, let’s have all of those ideas on what should be cut…

  3. Mike want longr name
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 5:59 am | Permalink

    Two weeks ago, city workers were out with really loud machines on Cross St. I thought they were leveling the road or filling potholes or something. That would have been great, because I hear cars going down Hamilton through that intersection hitting potholes and bottoming out all day long. But instead, they spent many hours, at least half a day, grinding up the crosswalk lines. I didn’t do a full count, but I saw two guys working the machines, and at least one guy just sitting in the truck (I’d say watching, but the truck was facing the wrong direction). Now, I know, who’s going to want to move to Ypsi if we have faded crosswalk lines, but was this really needed? Were unruly pedestrians wandering all over the road and being hit by cars because they couldn’t see the lines? Or how about the guy that drives around in the big water truck to water and fertilize the city weed beds? The sad truth is that many city employees need to be laid off. I’m sorry, and I feel for them. I don’t want to lose my job right now, either, but as it is, we are subsidizing their jobs at the expense of the private sector. You know, the sector that all of us live in, that the city government is supposed to be of service to. Our city government just needs to do a lot less. If we feel that we want to spend resources watering the plants in the median strip, then they will get watered. Let it be cooperation between neighborhood businesses, or neighborhood associations. (BTW, when you do take over that median strip garden, consider planting native perennials, they need less maintenance, water, weeding, etc.) Give control of the parks back to the CDC. Let voluntaryism flourish!

    And raising taxes are not going to be the answer. Sure, we can argue about who owes what to whom, what’s fair and what’s just, but we should instead step back and take a value-free view of the situation. Our city government already places too large of a burden on the civil economy of Ypsilanti. See the Ibn Khaldūn curve. There are a lot of good deals for first time homebuyers, especially the young, creative, etc, types that we claim to want to attract, but city property taxes are just obscene. When a mortgage calculator on a realty website shows the property tax being higher than the mortgage payment itself, that’s a serious problem. Nationwide, a lot of people are going to become homeowners during this depression, but not in Ypsi City limits, as long as the tax burden is so large. I’m shopping right now, and am specifically looking outside city limits. The only way I can become a homeowner is to find one of the great deals out there and end up paying less, or close to it, than I pay in rent right now, and that just isn’t a possibility within city limits. Taxes are always a drain on the private sector, and you need a reasonably healthy economy to support them. Seriously, please follow that link. Art Laffer is an idiot in many respects, but not (exactly) this one. We are certainly to the right of the apex on the curve, and lowering taxes could both help our local economy AND increase revenues. (Disclaimer: We have some ways to go before the housing market finishes correcting. Unemployment will rise, foreclosures will rise, and revenue will fall. What I am actually arguing, to be precise, is that a lower tax rate will cause revenues to be higher than they otherwise would have been, that is, to decrease at a slower rate. So if we follow my advice, but revenues still fall, that doesn’t discredit my argument. No scenario could prove or disprove my argument. This is a deductive, not an empirical argument.)

    I’d be happy to see the police budget cut. I’m sure we can still swing a shift to run red lights and harass Brandy’s for actually trying to use the services their taxes pay for, and maintain security a block away from the police station. We could fire the city manager (I’d be open to not even replacing him). Please, God, get rid of much of “Planning and Development”. We might, unfortunately, have to lose bus service. We should start planning now; maybe some young creative enterpriser could develop some kind of ride share, swapping credits and whatnot?

    See, we libertarians don’t hate society, organization, cooperation, etc. The reason I love Ypsi is because we do have this cooperative, activist spirit that wants to get things done. I just wish this spirit would be directed differently. Instead of trying to get Brian Robb et al. to hand down some edict from above, we should just come together as a voluntary, cooperative community. In the words of a local chicken man, “communitarianism yes, communism, hell no.”

  4. Mike want longr name
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 6:00 am | Permalink

    Dang.

    I meant:

    See the Ibn Khaldūn curve.

  5. Posted July 2, 2009 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    Mike –

    The crews working on Huron/Hamilton/Cross/Washtenaw over the past few weeks, including the Cross Street re-striping that you mention, are MDOT, not City staff.

    The downtown/depot town landscape maintenance you mention is closer to “City”. That’s the Downtown Development Authority’s contractor; the DDA is a semi-independent entity created by the City (similar to AATA), which captures a portion of non-City taxes generated within downtown/depot town in order to assist with capital/maintenance projects in those areas. That’s not to say “you, sir, are totally wrong,” when you question whether we should be doing that landscape maintenance, or how, just to point out that this is not currently a City service.

    The “Planning and Development” department is currently about 1% of the City’s budget, and has been reduced by more than half in the past few years. I’d personally argue that the department is necessary to some of the things you want done, but I’m biased…

  6. Gert
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    You aren’t suggesting that people lied in order to win an election, are you?

  7. Brackinald Achery
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    Yet City Council has $20,000 just lying around to pay for the parks just to stick it to the DTCDC.

    Cut all the cops and have a volunteer militia, I don’t give a damn about this backasswords City government and their budget problems anymore. And shut off the lights at City Hall on your way out, would you? Thanks.

  8. The Kingpin
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    I still can’t believe that the council was going to spend $20,000 on microphones, before they decided to spend it on parks. I’ll tell you what…give the parks contract back to the DTCDC, and maybe all the bands and supporters of certain festivals will put on a benefit to get you some new mics. They actually know how much they cost in the real world, and could save the council about $19,000 in the end. You could thank them later. What a bunch of jerks. $20,000 for microphones…what, are you taking stupid pills?

  9. Mike want longr name
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Murph,

    Thanks for your well-informed, polite response to my generally ignorant rant.

    That makes sense that it was MDOT. The larger the jurisdiction, and larger the tax base, the more likely to engage in rather pointless busywork. I guess I should be thankful it wasn’t USDOT. It should be noted though, that for those who do want the city to increase tax revenue, that any resources redirected by the state are resources that cannot be redirected by the city; that is, that we could tolerate a city income tax more easily without a state (or federal) income tax.

    I’ll admit to not really understanding the structure of the DDAs, CDCs, in relation to the city government. Any advice on where to find a clear explanation of this? From the DDA website:

    The Ypsilanti Downtown Development Authority is a board of nine citizens appointed by the Mayor and City Council to promote economic development in Downtown Ypsilanti. Subject to City Council approval, the DDA may use its bonding capacity and taxes captured through new construction (tax increment financing) to help finance public and public-private developments that encourage the economic vitality of the downtown area.

    Could you explain their revenue source, and how it is a “non-City [tax]”? Their taxing power comes from city council, right? It just strikes me as a lot like saying that the Federal Reserve isn’t part of the government. I say, walks like city government, quacks like city government…

    On the other hand, can the Depot Town CDC be considered a (almost) truly private organization? Is it (voluntary) membership funding, choosing (electing? appointing?) it’s own board? And what’s the Depot Town Association?

    Lastly, what are the things you believe that I would like done that the P&D dept. is necessary for, and why do you believe they are necessary?

  10. Mike want longr name
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    And Brack,

    Yup. Hells yup.

  11. Curt Waugh
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    How in the hell does a city of barely 20,000 people have so many different “development districts”? Jeebus, can I get one of those for my house and re-capture my own taxes? Maybe somebody’ll pick up my damn leaves that way. I suppose I’m late to the game with that question, but it bears asking. Sounds like we’re awash in management. So typical.

    In short, I’d say the 11% we’re spending on “Building Inspection, Finance, CITY MANGER” et al is pretty much wasted. Cut that back to “Guy to mop empty city hall”. Problem solved.

  12. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Thank You, BA, for pointing out that the city is needlessly throwing away $22,000 on maintenence of Riverside and Frog Island parks. The DTCDC contract is set to expire on the 20th. Let’s not forget, this $22,ooo was for the purchase of microphones (if that’s really what it was for, talk about your $500 hammers) and would be a one time expense. Where is the money going to come from next year? I am still waiting for the mayor and council to explain that, and why they wouldn’t try to work through the issues they had with DTCDC? I will be writing to the mayor and council tonight, and attending council Tuesday (it’s chicken ordinace day Tuesday, BTW). I think we need to demand an explanation on this issue, the one budget issue we can change in the short term. Please come Tuesday, please write today!

  13. Paul Schreiber
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    Mark,

    Thanks for posting information on the upcoming Ypsilanti city council budget sessions — the first one being on Thursday, July 9, at 7 p.m. in city council chambers. In the near future, the city will have a web page with information from these sessions.

    According to the city clerk’s office, $22,000 was originally budgeted for audio/visual equipment in city council chambers. The equipment included a sound system and a mounted LCD projector in addition to microphones.

    I welcome all comments here or by email or by phone.

    Paul Schreiber
    mayor@cityofypsilanti.com
    734-277-5446

  14. Mark H.
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Here’s a question for the Mayor:

    If all the payments on the Water Street debt that are due to be made in the next year were non-existent debts, how far would that cash savings go toward off setting the expected budget short falls?

    I understand that this is a counter-factual question, but it’s one that goes to the heart of the origins of the city’s fiscal problems.

    Another series of questions follow: Should the manager who was in charge of incurring this debt for the Water Street project be entrusted to remedy the current fiscal problems? Are the competence and vision of such a manager to be trusted by the citizens? Will elected representatives who continue to retain that manager, and give him pay raises like clockwork, be trusted by the voters to ably run municipal affairs?

    I don’t mean these questions to be rhetorical. I’ve heard the Mayor in the past answer some of them by saying Water Street was not a General Fund burden. I believe that it is now a General Fund burden. Things change over time. So too should the city manager’s position.

  15. Posted July 2, 2009 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    Mike –

    So many questions – let me try a few of them to start.

    The Depot Town Association (DTA) and Depot Town Community Development Association (DTCDC) are private non-profit organizations, as is the Downtown Association of Ypsilanti (DAY) and the Ypsilanti Area Chamber of Commerce. I’m not 100% sure on the legal (tax) classification of all of them. I believe DTCDC is a 501c3, and the Chamber is a 501c6.

    A Downtown Development Authority is a governmental entity created by a municipality in order to (typically) address property value deterioration in a traditional downtown business area by leveraging public investment in targeted projects in order to encourage and support private investments. (Let’s set aside, for the purposes of explanation, arguments that the best way to support private investment is to not collect the taxes to fund the public investments in the first place.) In Michigan, creation of DDAs is authorized under Public Act 197 of 1975 – most (all?) States have similar enabling legislation. Within the County, at least Ann Arbor, Chelsea, Dexter, Milan, and Ypsilanti have DDAs.

    I apologize for the incomplete explanation earlier – when I said the DDAs capture non-City taxes to assist with projects, I meant in addition to City taxes, not exclusive of. A DDA’s primary funding mechanism is Tax Increment Financing, or TIF – this allows the DDA to collect the City, County, and all other local (not State school) taxes created within the DDA’s boundaries above the value of the taxes being collected when the DDA district was created: the City and other local funding units still collect taxes on those properties as if they hadn’t increased in value since the DDA was created, and the DDA gets revenue from the increment in value.

    The intent behind this is that the downtown areas are on the way down, at the time of the DDA’s creation, and so we need to focus resources from all property taxing entities on arresting and reversing that decline. So, the City’s new tax revenues from those areas go into the DDA’s TIF, as do some other revenues, making for a net increase in fiscal capacity within the city. (Again, setting aside arguments over whether government fiscal capacity is a good thing.)

    So that’s the Tax and Increment parts of TIF. The Financing is that the DDA can issue bonds to undertake capital projects, backing those bonds on increments in taxable value that will be supported or encouraged by those projects.

    Where’s the City come into play? The DDA is ultimately a creature of the municipality – the Mayor and Council appoint their board, have to approve any bonds issued, and have a few other checks on the DDA, but outside of those the DDA is generally independent.

  16. Milktoast Mayor
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Paul “mayor” Schreiber – is the captain of a ship of Fools….

    Let the city go into receivership – it would be hard to get worse leadership.

  17. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, Mr. Mayor for clearing up where the money for the parks came from. Now, can the city and the DTCDC please make nice so we can put that money to a better use?

  18. Cat
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Where are the members of Team Pierce, telling us how policemen and firemen won’t lose their jobs?

    Come on, councilmen Murdock and Robb. You show up on other threads, why not this one?

  19. Listener
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    push here

  20. Brackinald Achery
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    Didn’t the cops just get a bunch of fancy new cars and assault rifles of all things? What if we just cut all that retiree health care stuff entirely and buy a predator drone while we’re at it?

  21. Posted July 2, 2009 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    That Water Street thing sure is hurting now. I dont think anyone could have anticipated this economy though so I cant bring myself to blame the people behind the thing. I actually think that good leaders take risks.

    I was strongly against the income tax and still would be. But I am not opposed to increasing revenue. Isnt there some way we could increase our property taxes a little? If we cant increase the revenue, we will probably have to reduce our fire and/or police services. That is unfortunate. Maybe we could work as a community to reduce crime to make our police officers jobs easier? Maybe we could work as a community to reduce fires to make our fire fighter’s jobs easier?

  22. Mike want longr name
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    But I am not opposed to increasing revenue. Isnt there some way we could increase our property taxes a little?

    Ooh! Ooh! Ooh!

    Maybe, just maybe, it’s possible, as counter-intuitive as it seems, that increasing property taxes would actually reduce revenue?

    Maybe? Anybody know a medieval African polymath we can ask?

  23. Mike want longr name
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    That Water Street thing sure is hurting now. I dont think anyone could have anticipated this economy though so I cant bring myself to blame the people behind the thing. I actually think that good leaders take risks.

    Absolutely. We’ve seen plenty of investors that took horribly stupid risks that went south. It’s certainly conceivable that a private investor could have come up with Water Street. The difference is that a private investor would, by his failure, be prevented from making future decisions that affect capital allocation. Conversely, the investor that did make wise decisions and accurately forecast the then-future-now-present state of conditions would have profited and would now be in a position to take over the allocation of capital from the failed investor. He would also be bearing the weight of his failed investment himself, and all those who chose not to invest would not be compelled to labor to pay his debts.

    Who is paying the debts of Koryzno and council?

  24. Pete Murdock
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    Mark –

    Two years ago when the discussion of the City Income Tax took place, the revenue projections were for 2-3% annual growth in taxable value, and no more cuts in State shared revenue. – And there were no General Fund expenditures for Water Street debt. In fact a two year budget was adopted with no draconian cuts.

    But that was then, this is now…

    In case you missed it in all the needless, divisive four month long “Ypsitucky” uproar. The City council had several meetings (all public) leading up to our budget considerations (more public meetings) that spelled out new financial projections, including the shortfalls in both our Street Funds (gas tax funded) and Solid Waste Fund (designated millage) In addition there were projections of a 30% reduction in taxable value over the next three years and unknown after that. Then the State of Michigan reacting to its revenue shortfall further reduced our State shared revenues. To say the revenue picture has changed would be a gross understatement.

    During those budget deliberations we deferred making any major personnel cuts (remember the elimination of three fire fighters proposal), and balanced the budget mainly by eliminating the bulk leaf collection and using $800K from fund balance. But that is only a stop gap measure.

    We directed the City Manager and staff to come up with a multi year budget projection (Solvency Plan II?) so we can, to the best of our ability, forecast down the road and make longer range decisions based on those realities.

    These meetings are to look at the expenditure side and what can be done to put them in sync with our new, lower revenues. All suggestions are welcome. Call me and we can sit down and talk.

    Pete Murdock

    485-7799
    murdock.sweeney@comcast.net

    BTW, thanks for referring to that election thread. The items I said I would pursue, I have pursued – Some with great success and others less successful.. And they’re all still as valid today.

    Also, not to belabor the point of who misrepresented what. But we sure could use that
    $ 1-.5 million from the general fund that’s going to Water Street debt retirement every year that was never suppose to happen.

  25. elviscostello
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    Pete, I’m not sure what you re saying here. You and Cam told ME specifically when i asked about the defeat of the income tax proposal (not abut future revenue cuts, Water street, etc) at your booth at the Heritage Festival that there would be NO MORE fire and police cuts, even if this went down. You said that the citizens wouldn’t stand for it and neither would you. You said that Fire had already taken more than it’s share of manpower cuts. Any comment? Will you vote against public safety cuts?

  26. dragon
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

    Did daddy promise an ipod for christmas Elvis. Things change.
    You can see the city expenditures in the thread below this one, tell us what a supergenius such as yourself would cut in the face of drastically lower revenues.
    But you promised, waaaaaaaaa

  27. Curt Waugh
    Posted July 3, 2009 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    It’s funny, I and others have thrown several barbs toward our beloved city manager and not one person has stood to defend him. The silence is deafening. When will this person have to stand and account for his job performance? When Pete? When Paul? Or is his performance indefensible and you’re ashamed that you’ve rubber stamped too many raises?

    And I think this needs to be said: I feel horrible that any police or fire prevention personnel might lose jobs (or anybody, for that matter – except the city manager), but just how many services are all of us going to have to give up to keep everybody employed? It sounds like our city is en route to being nothing more than a fire and police department because of this political football. You gonna take away trash service next? Cut the power to traffic lights? Do tell. What am I going to be asked (told) to give up next?

    What’s the matter Pete? Too busy blowing smoke up your own ass? Or maybe you’d like to take another swipe at us ignorant pricks for the Ypsitucky thing?

  28. Mike want longr name
    Posted July 3, 2009 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Murph,

    Thanks for the explanation. It’s a better explanation of TIF than the first 3 google picks. I think I understand, but I want to make my own summary. Tell me if I’m getting anything wrong.

    Let’s say we have two properties (districts): downtown, and the rest of the city, let’s call it “town”. We set up a TIF district, just in downtown, in year 1. Both properties are worth $100, and tax is, say, 10% annually. So in year one, the city gets $10×2=$20. In year 2, let’s say that each properties appreciates in value by 10%, so that each is now worth $110. From each property, tax is now $11, for a total revenue of $22. The city gets the full tax from the town property, $11, but only the original amount from downtown, $10, for a total of $21. The increase in tax revenue from downtown, $1, goes to the DDA. So far, I don’t see any net increase in city/DDA revenue, just a different distribution. But it sounds like the same would apply to any county taxes. Say the county was getting %5 of taxable value each year. Are they then capped out at $.50 for the downtown area, so that of the increase to $.55 in year 2, that additional $.05 goes to the DDA? Then I would call that a net increase of CITY revenue, but not a net increase of total revenue. This would be kind of like if the IRS gave you a tax credit (not deduction) for any state and local income taxes, so that rather than saying “we get 20% of your income,” they said “you will pay 20% of your income, and we get anything not collected by state/local.” So the property owner isn’t getting any tax reduction, just the opportunity to have it managed by a more local authority. I assume this is the gist of Public Act 197 of 1975, that it gives the city the right to pass a law that stops money from going to the county government.

    And then, the DDA can issue bonds, on the assumption that the money will be spent to make improvements that will increase the taxable value, and that the TIF revenue would be increases that would not have otherwise occurred, and will be used to repay the bonds.

    So, I still don’t really see how this makes the DDA independent of city government in any sense. Their taxing power still comes from council, and the board is stil appointed by council, and I assume it could be dissolved by council, however drastic of a measure that might be. Although I do like the idea of putting the whole city into a TIF district just to maintain more local control of funds, kind of a tax protest of sorts.

    Another thought. How independent is (was?) the DTCDC in their control of the parks? I assumed that they had some kind of contract with the city that gave them control for some amount of time, and that they invested their own money on those terms. Did the contract really read “DTCDC gets to control the parks and spend their own money until such time that council’s delicate sensitivities are offended and we seize back control,” or was the city in breach of a more sensible contract?

  29. Oliva
    Posted July 3, 2009 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Did anybody else get a property tax bill with the figures for assessed value and taxable value transposed?

  30. Pete Murdock
    Posted July 3, 2009 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Yes – Everyone.

  31. Pete Murdock
    Posted July 3, 2009 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    Yes everyone did – See Below

    It has come to the attention of the City Manager and Finance Director that there was an error in the summer tax bills that were recently mailed. We have put an explanation under “NEWS” on the City Website, as well as sending emails to COPAC representatives and listserve.

    “The data for the summer tax bill that was recently mailed is incorrect, but the total tax due IS CORRECT. The Assessed value and Taxable value amounts were inadvertently transposed. The number under Taxable Value should be the amount of Assessed Value and vice-versa. However, the total due was calculated based on the correct taxable value.

    The revised tax bills will be corrected and re-printed by our vendor and mailed to all residents at no cost to the City.

    We apologize for any inconvenience caused.”

    Nan Schuette, Executive Secretary

    City Manager’s Office

    City of Ypsilanti

    1 South Huron Streeet

    Ypsilanti, MI 48197

    734-483-9646

  32. Oliva
    Posted July 3, 2009 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Isnt there some way we could increase our property taxes a little?

    Answer must be yes given the tax bill we just got.

  33. Bill French
    Posted July 3, 2009 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Who said Murdock didn’t know how to do the “two-step”

    His statement to Mark, “in case you missed it in all the needless, divisive four month long Ypsitucky uproar”, is the beginning of Pete’s effort to remove his finger prints from the Ypsitucky embarrassment. He was at the dance, and his comment about the waste of time implies his lack of involvement; nothing could be further from the truth.

    As a member of the Depot Town Association, i am curious what part Pete played in taking the DTA in front of the Human Relations Commission. And why he did not communicate with the DTCDC during the entire fiasco?

    Voting for the City to take back the parks is the most ridiculous, impulsive business decision i have seen in years, and Pete’s finger prints are on this one too.

    Quit the “two-step” and start being transparent with your Depot Town merchants.

  34. Brackinald Achery
    Posted July 3, 2009 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Is it wrong that I’m starting to really enjoy these local politics fights?

  35. Scott K
    Posted July 3, 2009 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Makes you want to re-elect everyone just for the entertainment value….on second thought, not so much.

  36. Oliva
    Posted July 3, 2009 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    I hope I’m not blowing it, Mr. P, by telling your good idea, but a clever local man with a sense of humor, enjoying the fact that Elvis C’s wife took the Ypsipanties theme and ran with it during her show last weekend, thinks that Mark and Linette could expand their selection to include men’s boxers called “Ypsi-Tuckies.”

  37. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted July 3, 2009 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Mike, the DTCDC is an independent non profit. They recieved little money from the city; I think the Depot Town DDA gave them around $5000 this year, and technicaly, that came from the city. The I can not speak for the entire budget, as I am not a board member, but from what I understand most of their capitol comes from the events they hold and any grants they may be able to obtain. They then bid out the lawn care and I beleive they had Sheriff’s Department Trustee Prisoners to do at least some of the trash pick up. The long and short of it is, the VAST MAJORITY of thier opperating capital does not come from the city in any way.

    Again, as I have said on several threads, there were some dissagreements with between the city an varrious groups and the DTCDC. But was the best solution to cut off the contract and take money from our shrinking city budget to take back the parks? Or was this another game of “let’s spite those guys”?

  38. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted July 3, 2009 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    By the way, I realize that $22,000 is a small part of the city budget. But, right now, doesn’t every bit count?

  39. elviscostello
    Posted July 3, 2009 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    dragon, keep cutting fire and see what it does to your homeowners insurance as well as the effectiveness of the department…this isn’t about wahhh, wahhh, wahhhh….

  40. Kate Conat
    Posted July 3, 2009 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    The DTCDC had done things to improve the parks, including having the pavilion out over the river rebuilt after city neglect made it more than a little dangerous. Council’s terminating the contract is nothing more than pettiness – and it’s another expense to add back on the city’s already stretched funds. Mr. Murdock, you know I backed you and Mr. Bodary when you ran for Council this last time, but I’m beginning to regret my support. This picayune squabbling is beneath the both of you. It’s time to refocus on your goals – which should put the survival of Ypsilanti way ahead of personality clashes and pettiness.

    As for the other, larger issues, I’d like to make a suggestion: why not have the Mayor and City Councilpersons forego their annual stipends while we’re in these straits. In addition, have the City Manager’s salary no higher than the average salary of Ypsilanti city residents. I know those figures are around somewhere. Perhaps, if these measures were taken, we citizens might believe you really were elected to serve, not air your frivolous and irrelevant differences at the expense of the city coffers. And the city manager might hasten his plans for retirement, instead of hanging around waiting for even further benefits to kick in.

    In other words, I and a bunch of others elected you in the hopes we’d see some effective changes. Instead, we’ve seen an escalation of the same piddling bickering we got before. We. Have. Had. Enough.

  41. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted July 3, 2009 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    This is a letter I have sent to council. Of all the straws we can reach for, this issue seems to me the easiest to grab.
    To:
    Paul Schreiber, Mayor of Ypsilanti
    S.A. Trudy Swanson-Winston, Ward 1,
    Mayor Pro-Tem
    Members of Ypsilanti City Council
    Lois Richardson, Ward 1
    Michael Bodary, Ward 2
    William Nickels, Ward 2
    Peter Murdock, Ward 3
    Brian Robb, Ward 3

    From:
    Andrew
    Ypsilanti, Mi. 48198

    Mr. Mayor and Council,

    I am writing in regards to Resolution No. 2009-106B, the termination of the Contract with the DTCDC to operate Riverside and Frog Island Parks. The 45-day notice given to the DTCDC expires this month, and control of the parks will revert to the city. I would first like to again express my disappointment in council’s actions in this matter. While there was mention of issues with the DTCDC in their operation of the parks, I do not believe that this action was taken in good faith by the city. The one and only reason that the DTCDC was being discussed in council that evening was because of the use of the word “Ypsitucky” in relation to the music festival being held in the park. The very fact that this issue was allowed to come before council was unsettling. That the result of the “Ypsitucky” debate was the termination of the DTCDC contract is shameful. If the contract with the DTCDC was to be terminated, it should have been presented as a separate issue before council and fair warning of such action should have been given to the DTCDC to prepare a response to the accusations leveled against them. At the very least, this action by council appears to be under-handed and spiteful.

    The termination of this contract is particularly troubling against the backdrop of Ypsilanti’s shrinking budget. The $22,000 set aside for Riverside and Frog Island parks was originally ear marked by the city manager’s office for audio/visual equipment for council chambers. This represents a onetime expense, which begs the question: where do we get the money for the parks budget for the future? With city service already being cut due to budget constraints, what will we cut next to balance the books? Police? Fire? Roads? Bus service? Or will we just raise our already high taxes? While $22,000 represents a small part of the city budget, it is money that is desperately needed elsewhere.

    I am not intending to paint the DTCDC as blameless. There are certainly seemed to be issues to be addressed in regards to their operation of the parks. But, instead of working together with the DTCDC, council has chosen to cut the cord all together. I do not believe this to be a fiscally sound decision, and I urge all parties to come back to the table to develop a solution to these problems, not create another financial burden on the city at a time when we cannot afford it.

    Sincerely,
    Andrew

  42. Dirtgrain
    Posted July 3, 2009 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    Why do so many not name the City Manager? Did I miss his/her name being mentioned?

  43. Posted July 4, 2009 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Memories seem to be short. In May 2009 Paul and Ed proposed public safety cuts and Council rejected them.

    http://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/index.ssf/2009/05/ypsilanti_city_manager_withdra.html

    Your anger seems to causing you some bias, Mark. The evidence shows that the anti-income tax advocates elected to council have held the line on public safety cuts. On the other hand, it’s been the pro-tax advocates who keep proposing cuts to public safety. Ironic, isn’t it?

  44. Pete Murdock
    Posted July 4, 2009 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Bill-

    “As a member of the Depot Town Association, i am curious what part Pete played in taking the DTA in front of the Human Relations Commission”

    None

    “is the beginning of Pete’s effort to remove his finger prints from the Ypsitucky embarrassment”

    Sorry Bill, you need to look to the Westside Council members (Nichols and Bodary) as well as Mayor Schreiber for the vehement opposition to Ypsitucky on City Council. They were the only council members who signed the anti-ypsitucky petition.

    “And why he did not communicate with the DTCDC during the entire fiasco?”

    I discussed the this issue several times with your brother Gerry, who is a DTCDC board member and has been my contact with the DTCDC since before being elected to Council. Early on (March) I cautioned him of the impending train wreck if this was not resolved. I similarly cautioned those on the other side. I have not been contacted by anyone from the DTA or DTCDC expressing an interest in restoring the contract..

    Also, since being elected to Council, I have been to most all DTA and DTDDA meetings. I have not seen you at any except the DTA meeting that you physically prevented me from attending. Incidentally, keeping people from a meeting they are invited to doesn’t do much for the communication process.

    “start being transparent with your Depot Town merchants.”

    I’m in Depot Town listening and talking with merchants and others all the time. I attend DTA and DTDDA meetings. I have a phone (485-7799) (You used to call me until I disagreed with you on the train stop location.), an email address (Murdock.sweeney@comcast.net) and am willing to meet with anybody who wishes to. We had a difference of opinion on the development of the freight house and the location of the train platform. I was clear and as transparent as I could be in listening to everyone and making a decision I feel is in the best interest of Depot Town and the City. Not all will agree with my decision. I have communicated by email with members of the DTA and DTDDA on issues and events surrounding the train stop and freight house often in response to false information that you spread.

    As far as transparency goes, Bill, where is yours? What is your agenda?

    You opposed the construction of the Maple Street Lot
    You opposed the development of a bar at the Thompson Building
    You publically trashed the owner of the Depot, so he ceased any involvement with the City.
    You opposed the Tattoo Parlor in Depot Town
    You opposed and still oppose the efforts of the Friends of the Freight House to renovate and develop the Freight House jeopardizing the $500,000 grant for its renovation.
    You really oppose the train stopping in Depot Town and are still working to sabotage that effort You opposed the idea of consolidating dumpsters as they have downtown.
    Yet now you want the City or DDA to build you a $24,000 dumpster enclosure on City property solely for your two Aubree’s dumpsters.

    Really Bill – What is YOUR agenda?

  45. Kate Conat
    Posted July 4, 2009 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Dirtgrain, the city manager’s name is Ed Koryzno. Rather than being all formal, a lot of us just refer to the title, since that’s the relevant part.

    Pete, just when I think you and I are going to have a good, old-fashioned knock-down-drag-out, you go and say something I agree with.

  46. Double Speak
    Posted July 5, 2009 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Pete,

    It’s a new dawn and I believe the creation of Mark’s blog will eliminate the double speak that you are so fond of. Here are the answers to your accusations.

    “……Sorry Bill, you need to look to the Westside Council members (Nichols and Bodary) as well as Mayor Schreiber for the vehement opposition to Ypsitucky on City Council……

    I understand their action because they were responding to their constituents, but you on the other hand did little or nothing to defend yours. You seemed to have a world view that you are Council members at large. You are not. Only the Mayor’s job is at large and by the way, nice job of throwing him under the bus.

    The DTA has been operating for over thirty years and has done some pretty impressive things. We deserved more than to be called racist and taken in front of the Human Relations Commission without you defending the DTA.

    “ ….. inresponse to false information that you spread”……..

    It is easy to say “in response to false information that I spread”; but ladies and gentlemen, please note that he will not provide any evidence. I am attempting to answer a litany of false information with facts. I’ll wait till hell freezes over for him to produce evidence that I spread false information. This is an old tactic and is not going to work today.

    “…..As far as transparency goes, Bill, where is yours? What is your agenda?”……

    My 40 years of work for Depot Town and the community speaks to my agenda, and for you to question my transparency is a joke.

    “……You opposed the construction of the Maple Street Lot”…… TRUE

    Yes I did, and so did the DTA membership.

    The DTA was adamantly opposed to spending most of our DTDDA’s future stream of income (until 2016) for a little used, over flow, parking lot. We believed the lack of future DDA funds would have a negative impact on our business district down the road.

    Our concerns have proven to be correct, and it helps to explain why Depot Town is in such poor condition today. Hell, Pete I noticed you were weed whacking the neighborhood last week. I give you credit for your hard work, but it wouldn’t have been necessary if the Maple Street Lot was left graveled until the demand necessitated the expense of paving and lighting the lot.

    “….You opposed the development of a bar at the Thompson Building”…… FALSE

    It is in my best business interest to have as many bars and restaurants as possible in Depot Town (entertainment district). What I did oppose was a proposed dance club that bordered a residential neighborhood. You agreed with my position at that time and joined a DDA committee to work out the criteria that would be used for future applicants.

    “….You publically trashed the owner of the Depot, so he ceased any involvement with the City”….. TRUE and FALSE

    TRUE: I did trash the owner of the Depot.

    After waiting years for an Ann Arbor developer to renovate the Depot, the DDA and DTA sent numerous letters to the developer. Finally the mayor tried to set up a meeting with the developer to see what the community could to encourage him to move forward on developing Depot. The developer refused to meet with the mayor and made the statement that he had no plans to move forward.

    At that point, Sandee and I decided it was time to shine a light on this disgrace by putting up a sign and stickers in our window depicting two pictures: One of the beautiful Campus Inn in Ann Arbor and the other of the dilapidated Depot in Ypsilanti, both owned by the same developer. See ypsilantidepot.com.

    FALSE: “……resulting in the Developer to cease any involvement in the City”……

    I realize you have never made a payroll, but let me assure you that our sign had nothing to do with the developer allowing the Depot to continue to deteriorate for more than 20 years. It is about money. He doesn’t believe he can develop the property into a positive cash flow position for his company. Editorials from both the Ann Arbor News and Business Weekly supported our position

    “….You opposed the Tattoo Parlor in Depot Town”…… FALSE

    I have never expressed an opinion one way or the other. But Sandee did write a letter to the planning commission stating we were in favor of changing the zoning so a tattoo business could operate in Depot Town.

    “…..You opposed and still oppose the efforts of the Friends of the Freight House to renovate and develop the Freight House jeopardizing the $500,000 grant for its renovation.”…… FALSE

    This accusation pisses me off because it is so blatantly false. I suspect it is an attempt to ‘fire up’ the troops and at the same time to demonize and marginalize me with one broad stroke.

    I have never tried to stop the Friends of the Freight House from renovating or developing the Freight House. I believe it is the most valuable piece of property in Depot Town and if properly managed, it should be the ‘anchor store’ in Depot Town. Generating foot traffic and improving our business climate which would positively affect my business and community interests.

    “…..You really oppose the train stopping in Depot Town and are still working to sabotage that effort.”….. FALSE

    “When was the last time I beat my wife” has the right ring to this outrageous statement. The train stopping in Depot Town is not only good for Ypsilanti but it is great for my business interest.

    At first, I believed the better choice for the train platform was the ‘empty’ East side Maple Street parking lot because Depot Town merchants used the parking spaces on the west side of the tracks. But after learning of the grant possibility for the Freight House, I quickly changed my position and endorsed a compromise proposed by you and endorsed by Mark (blog march 15th).

    “…..You opposed the idea of consolidating dumpsters as they have downtown”…… FALSE.

    I believe in consolidation of dumpsters, but if it is to be located on private property, it should be approved by the property owner. I objected to the consolidation dumpster proposal for Depot Town’s south side merchants because the proposal called for it to be located within 25 feet of Cady’s rear door entrance.

    “…..Yet now you want the City or DDA to build you a $24,000 dumpster enclosure on City property solely for your two Aubree’s dumpsters”…… TRUE and FALSE

    FALSE “…..solely for your two Aubree’s dumpsters”….. The north side enclosure was built over 20 years ago for north side merchants, tenants, and the Freight House dumpsters. It was never intended to be used by just Aubree’s.

    TRUE “…..you want the City or DDA to build you a $24,000 dumpster enclosure”….. Aubree’s has two dumpsters in the enclosure but certain north side property owners have not provided their merchants and tenants with a trash barrel, let alone a dumpster.

    Where do you think their trash, as well as the many drive-by couches, refrigerators, etc. go? You guessed it, into my dumpsters. I am tired of the expense as well as the embarrassment of having the ‘city’s’ trash exposed to our community and its’ visitors.

    You bet I want the City or DDA to bring the enclosure up to code because it is needed and long over due. I am tired of paying for extra dumps and I want the community’s entrance into Frog Island to look presentable again.

    Just like downtown, it should be the responsibility of the City or DDA to maintain the enclosure as well as selecting a convenient location for the users.

    “….Really Bill – What is YOUR agenda?”….

    Frankly, I want to know if you are running for Mayor because it might explain some of your recent moves. (see my blog on March 12th)

  47. Oops
    Posted July 5, 2009 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Oops, I forgot to sign my name. Pete here is my telephone number 678.8844 and my email address is bill@aubrees.com

    Bill “food fight” French

  48. Dirtgrain
    Posted July 5, 2009 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Und Pete?

  49. Brackinald Achery
    Posted July 5, 2009 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

    *crunching popcorn, enthralled*

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  1. […] addition to this, there were quite a few other comments in the thread that I think you might find of interest. Here, to prime the pump, is one from Ypsi resident Kate […]

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