What Ypsi’s leaders will be doing to respond to Snyder’s proposed budget

Last night, I posted something here about Rick Snyder’s proposed budget, and my hope that our City’s leaders were actively working on an aggressive response, perhaps through an organization such as SEMCOG or the Michigan Municipal League. As with our earlier posts on the subject of the budget, it’s led to some good discussion. One voice, however, has been missing in this most recent online conversation, and that’s the voice of our Mayor, Paul Schreiber. While he didn’t leave a comment, he did, however, send me an email, explaining what it was that he, and his fellow City leaders, would be doing to counter the Snyder plan. Here, with his permission, is that note, followed by its three attachments.

Hello Mark,

I’ve been following your thread on Governor Snyder’s budget and its effect on urban core cities like Ypsilanti. A few notable things are in the works.

First, a number of urban core cities will be grouping together to lobby for funding and programs for urban cities. Among the cities on the first conference call were Ypsilanti, Dearborn, Taylor, and Southfield. I was asked to kick off the group with an email (below) that can be circulated to other urban core cities to entice them to join the cause.

Secondly, Ed Koryzno and I will be attending a day-long workshop on April 7. The details are pasted below. I’m not sure what to expect, but I must take every opportunity presented to me.

Third, I’ve asked to testify at the house subcommittee hearings on statutory state revenue sharing. The chair of the committee has assured me that I will be scheduled when hearings resume. The Michigan Municipal League has already testified on the importance of statutory SSR to urban core cities (see attached).

Finally, citizen involvement is crucial to shape policy in Michigan. Although the November 2010 results cast the die, we must keep trying to save well-run urban core cities like Ypsilanti. Your help is greatly appreciated.

Best regards,
Paul

ATTACHMENT 1: The Mayor’s letter to the City’s lobbyist, Kirk Profit.

Hello Kirk,

Thanks for organizing the conference call today. As I stated during the call, I think the urban core cities must make the case that reductions in Brownfield tax exemptions, Historic Tax Credits, Obsolete Property and Rehabilitation Act tax incentives, and statutory state revenue sharing will drive business out. Governor Snyder wants Michigan to be open for business. These cuts will make Michigan’s urban core cities closed until further notice. In order to make our case to keep these vital programs, we must show the return on investment. I suggest that each core city compile the amount of money provided by Brownfield tax exemptions, Historic Tax Credits, Obsolete Property and Rehabilitation Act tax incentives and the total amount of money invested and growth of business as a result of these programs. Coupling this data with the rising price of gasoline and other energy and young families moving to more urban environments, it makes fiscal and business sense to invest in our urban core. We must provide the financial data to prove it.

The city of Ypsilanti will begin compiling the incentives from each program and the total investment due to each program. If this data is combined for many urban core cities, it will send a strong message that in order for Michigan to be open for business, Michigan’s core cites must be open for business.

Best regards,
Paul

ATTACHMENT 2: The Michigan Municipal League’s response to the Snyder budget.

Michigan Information & Research Service (MIRS) Capitol Capsule
Thursday, February 17, 2011

MML: ‘This Is Revenue Stealing’

It will be impossible for some cities to survive under Gov. Rick SNYDER’s plan to eliminate $307 million in statutory revenue sharing for a $200 million competitive program based on “best practices,” according to the president of the Michigan Municipal League Board of Trustees.

Carol Shafto said after taking $4 billion in cuts over the last 10 years, Snyder’s recent plan is “beyond unacceptable” and will push dozens of local governments into fiscal stress.

She said the 30 percent cuts will mean police officers and firefighters will be laid off. Roads and bridges will crumble. Wastewater treatment systems will fail. Parks and libraries will close.

“Who will want to live here?” Shafto said. “When do we stop the fiscal insanity and end this foolish and reckless attempt to undermine Michigan’s return to prosperity? . . . These cuts are not about turning off the lights. They are about taking the lights down.”

MML Director of State Affairs Summer Minnick took it a step further, saying “This is not revenue sharing. This is revenue stealing.”

Snyder would not concede that more cities would be pushed into state receivership under his plan, but that they would be forced to institute “best practices” and an honest renegotiation with it’s employees about their health benefits.

MIRS asked state Treasurer Andy Dillon if this budget would cause some blood on the streets.

“I think it will force people to change behavior,” he said.

Asked if the revenue sharing cuts will mean more municipalities will go into bankruptcy or be under his Department’s purview.

“It will be a severe strain on several of them,” he acknowledged. “They have to take the bull by the horns and many of them aren’t politically able to do so.”

Dillon said that’s why changes to P.A. 72, the Emergency Financial Manager Act, are important.

The Michigan Township Association (MTA) officials said they were “disappointed with a devastating 40% cut to statutory revenue sharing.” While only 40 out of 1,240 townships receive any of this money, essential services in those townships that currently receive meaningful amounts will be harmed, the MTA claimed.

“If incentives reward communities that are already cooperating, successfully control their personnel-related costs, and practice transparency in their financial transactions, then we’re confident that state officials will recognize the value of township government,” reads the MTA news release.

Snyder’s Director of Strategy Bill Rustem confirmed that counties won’t be competing for their $100 million revenue sharing appropriation — yet. That could come in the future. Under the Snyder plan, counties would be cut roughly 33 percent.

While disappointed, the Michigan Association of Counties (MAC) said essentially today they wanted to talk to the administration about seeing which “unfunded mandates” the counties currently perform the state wants to take over.

“The current system of pushing unfunded mandates on counties and expecting the same level of service is unsustainable,” said Thomas Mullaney, president of the MAC Board of Directors.

ATTACHMENT 3: The ominous sounding invitation to the Michigan Urban Visioning Workshop.

mileadersformi2

I have a lot that I’d like to say, but I’ll bite my tongue for now, and let you have the first word… So, what do you think? Is this sufficient? Are you confident, based upon what you’ve heard thus far, that cities like Ypsilanti have a chance of changing the Snyder budget so that sacrifice is more equitably distributed across the board?

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11 Comments

  1. Carole
    Posted March 7, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    Why did the mayor kick Candace Pinaud off of the tax board of review?

  2. Lokul Yokul
    Posted March 8, 2011 at 12:02 am | Permalink

    No, it’s not sufficient. I appreciate the mayor taking some initiative. But we need our entire council and community. Frankly, a majority on council are there because they ran on, to put it simply, a platform that suggested there was plenty of fat to be cut in government. The type platform that reinforced Snyder’s agenda and made him electable. Regarding cuts, “Everything is on the table,” we were told. They told us that there were alternative sources of funding and plenty of local fat to be trimmed. As it turns out, “everything is on the table” may really mean we lose “everything.”

    And, we need local opinion leaders like Steve Pierce, the Maurer’s, Barnes & Barnes and friends to rally their supporters in opposition to these cuts with the same vigor they’ve shown in local elections. Unless, of course, this is the scenario they’d been quietly hoping for.

    To read what Brian Robb had to cut and paste: http://east-cross.com/?p=597
    To read what Steve Pierce didn’t have to say :http://ypsinews.com/

    Maybe these folks are opposed. Maybe they’re lobbying behind the scenes. But this is the time for a public, united front. If not, to quote Mr. Robb: “We’re F*cked. I Mean Really, Really F*cked!”

  3. Posted March 8, 2011 at 1:09 am | Permalink

    Based on the charts in the Mayor’s State of the City email, Ypsi is going to have to make about a 25% cut in our budget either way. It’s just that Governor Snyder’s proposal will get us to that point a year sooner. But absent a miraculous change in the local economy — and I mean that in the literal sense; the possibility of the degree of change needed would be just about on par with God descending on Mt Brighton with 5 more commandments — we’ll be there within 3-6 years. So while I don’t particularly care for the Governor’s budget (particularly the huge corporate tax cut), I’m not that bothered by its effect on Ypsi.

    Sadly, the response of our local elected officials to Ypsi’s budget crisis seems to be to complain about the State of Michigan not paying promised fire protection money for service to EMU and try to lobby to protect what money the state does send our way. Michigan is not like Wisconsin — while their budget “crisis” was manufactured, ours is genuine and ongoing — and without tax increases, the state, and most municipalities are probably going to have to make sharp cuts.

    If we in Ypsi, or at least our elected officials, can’t make the cuts, an EFM will make them for us. I’d rather we do it ourselves.

  4. Knox
    Posted March 8, 2011 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    It’s a trap, Mr. Mayor. The last thing is from Doug Rothwell’s new organization. It’s anything but nonpartisan.

  5. Glen S.
    Posted March 8, 2011 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    @ cmdadler

    I disagree with you about the idea that in contrast to Wisconsin’s “manufactured,” budget crisis, Michigan’s budget crisis is entirely “genuine.”

    There’s no question that the slump in the auto industry, coupled with the housing bubble/crash, has dramatically reduced state revenues. On the other hand — and sometimes concurrently — Michigan also has been foolishly cutting its state income tax rate for decades.

    From 1993 to 2005 Michigan reduced its personal income tax, in stages, from a high of 6.35% to an extreme low of 3.9% (the final result of the “Engler cuts.”)

    Today, our rate of 4.35% is comparatively very low compared to most of our Great Lakes peers, and — because we have a “flat” rate — most of our wealthiest citizens do not pay their fair share.

    To illustrate my point, here are the 2010-2011 income tax rates for some other Great Lakes states:

    Ohio: Low – 0.587%; High – 5.925% (many Ohio cities levy additional income tax)
    Wisconsin: Low – 4.6%; High – 7.75%
    Illinois: 5% (up from 3% in 2010)
    Indiana: 3% (state sales tax of 7% + many Indiana counties have additional income tax)
    Minnesota 5.35%; High – 7.85% (also has a state sales tax of 6.85%)

    And, just for fun, our neighbors in Ontario: Low – 5.05%; High – 11.16%

    So, I’m not saying we don’t need to streamline our state budget, but clearly … moving our state income tax rates back in line with our neighbors (and instituting a progressive income tax) could go a long way toward avoiding the worst of these devastating cuts.

    However, that would require Michigan politicians (in both parties) to show real leadership in advocating for true “shared sacrifice” rather than the current plan — which is to preserve Michigan’s artificially low tax rates at the expense of K-12 education, the working poor, senior citizens, cities, etc.

  6. Edward
    Posted March 8, 2011 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Maybe Michigan is angling to be a post-city state. We’ll downsize Detroit to the size of Ypsi, and we’ll pave over the smaller urban core cites, making room for new investment. We’ll eliminate zoning altogether and hang a big “Open for Business” sign at the border. Anyone can do whatever the like, whenever they like. Maybe we can have sharecroppers on Water Street, alongside plasma centers. I love the direction that Snyder is taking this state.

  7. Edward
    Posted March 8, 2011 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    If we still had a press in this state, I could see someone writing a feature on this, Glen.

    From 1993 to 2005 Michigan reduced its personal income tax, in stages, from a high of 6.35% to an extreme low of 3.9% (the final result of the “Engler cuts.”)

    Today, our rate of 4.35% is comparatively very low compared to most of our Great Lakes peers, and — because we have a “flat” rate — most of our wealthiest citizens do not pay their fair share.

    The feature would ask, “Why, if we cut rates drastically, are we still doing so poorly?” Wasn’t that the reasoning behind Engler’s jihad against taxes? It was supposed to spur growth. It didn’t. And yet no one talks about this.

  8. Norman
    Posted March 8, 2011 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Dear God,

    I know it’s been a long time since I last was in touch with You (that night when I was having trouble at the Casino). I hope You’ll forgive me for the long silence. I’m writing to You today because my city (Ypsilanti) is in big trouble, and I feel that only You will have the power to help. Your flock is in unprecedented control of the nation’s government and corporations; everywhere I look there are good people calling the shots: Scott Walker, Fred Phelps, Rick Snyder, Glenn Beck, and so many others who use Your Word to try to effect positive change in the U.S.

    That said, Ypsilanti is about to run out of money, since our Governor is planning to withdraw the last of it, and send it to business leaders. This is good, since corporations ultimately send their money to Heaven, but I wonder if we can make a deal, and in doing so, secure some of Your benifi-cents (TM).

    Here is what I’ll do, if, in exchange, You can powerflow some cash into the City’s bank account:

    I will work to ensure that by 2012, all persons of color are either sent back to where they came from (usually Guam, Gabon, or Mexico) or are incarcerated. I also promise to launch a PR campaign that proves Allah is Satan.

    Please consider this deal, God, and I remain, Your servant on earth,

    Norman “Siddy” Brownfield

    *

    Dear Siddy,

    Yes, it’s a good time in America. I like what you say you plan to do with PoC, but let’s leave a few of them (Obama) in place so that your average American doesn’t notice the disappearance of the others.

    And don’t be too hard on Allah: he’s an old soul, and we often work together to maximize returns on our investments. He’s backward about women, to be sure; but hey, I ain’t married!

    So here’s what I’m thinking: if you can take out Julian Assange, I will powerflow 5 million Euros into the City of Ypsilanti’s bank account. I will need to do so via Rick Snyder, however, because, to be frank, the money really is his, and not “mine,” at this point.

    I do need to see your ass in Church, though, Siddy. And the next time I help you win at the Casino, I need to see much, if not all, of those winnings in the donations basket.

    It’s strangely warm here today in Switzerland. Yours,

    God

  9. Ted
    Posted March 8, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    I’ve got a good idea for a soundtrack to support Snyder’s Kill Cities initiative.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kill_City

  10. Glen S.
    Posted March 9, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    Now, the EFM bill awaits only Snyder’s signature.

    From the Detroit Free Press:

    LANSING — The Senate has passed a bill to give much broader powers to emergency managers appointed to overhaul the finances of cities or schools facing collapse.

    The 26-12 vote capped two days of debate, punctuated by protests from union supporters in the halls of the Capitol who object to giving emergency managers authority to nullify employee union contracts in municipalities or school districts where they’re appointed. All Republicans voted for it; all Democrats voted against.

  11. N Arthur
    Posted March 25, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    So, was the answer pretty much nothing?

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