Ypsilanti City Council passes resolution opposing Snyder agenda, calling for statewide tax reform

At Tuesday night’s meeting of the Ypsilanti City Council, the following resolution was offered by Councilmen Mike Bodary and Dan Vogt. It is, as you will realize when you read it, largely symbolic in nature, but I wholeheartedly endorse the sentiment behind it. Furthermore, I hope that it encourages other communities across Michigan to do the same. This resolution, by the way, passed the Ypsi City Council unanimously.

RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF YPSILANTI:

WHEREAS, Governor Snyder and the Michigan Legislature have proposed dramatic cuts in revenue sharing, grants and tax credit programs, including fire protection, Historic Preservation, Brownfield Redevelopment, Community Reinvestment, and other state funding to municipalities and school districts, including to the City of Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Public Schools, and

WHEREAS these are just the most recent of many annual cuts over the past two decades, and will reduce the revenues of the City of Ypsilanti by an estimated additional $680,000.00, and

WHEREAS, the problems of most local governments and schools across the state facing insolvency are caused by matters over which they have no control, including the severe effect of the recession on tax revenues and the intentional diversion of tax dollars by the Governor and Legislature from local government and school budgets to businesses in the form of new tax cuts, and

WHEREAS, the business tax cuts are not contingent upon investment in capital development that would assist in job creation or promote economic growth, and said cuts will severely aggravate the budget deficit of the State of Michigan, and

WHEREAS, many of the revenue, grant and tax credit provisions proposed for reduction by the Governor and Legislature are used by local governments to promote business development and job creation, and

WHEREAS, education, police and fire protection, roads maintenance, and other basic public services are essential to economic activity and growth and public safety, and cutbacks in those services will severely impair the ability of municipalities and the State of Michigan to attract new businesses, and will thus accelerate financial decline locally and statewide, and

WHEREAS, the budget choices of the Governor and Legislature do not address the real causes of financial difficulties of local governments and school districts, including excessive dependence on property taxes as a revenue source, and

WHEREAS, the Governor and Legislature passed Public Act No. 4 of 2011, providing for appointment by the Governor of Emergency Managers with drastic powers far surpassing those of such managers under previous law, and effectively granting control of local government matters to the Governor through his appointees, and

WHEREAS, the budget choices by the Governor and Michigan Legislature impair the ability of local governments and school districts to meet their financial challenges, and will trigger insolvency and the appointment of Emergency Managers in distressed municipalities and school districts, and

WHEREAS, Emergency Managers are given authority by said Act to cut or drop essential city services, cancel contracts with employees and third party providers of services, cut departments and programs, lay off employees, sell parks, equipment, and other public assets, force consolidation of services with other municipalities, and remove the authority of local elected officials and their professional managers, and

WHEREAS, appointment of an Emergency Manager will impair the ability of the citizenry to provide for their own protection and needs and solve their own problems, will destroy local input, choice, and control, and will amount to taxation without representation, and

WHEREAS, an Emergency Manager does not have the experience and knowledge to understand the specific needs of local communities and their citizens as well as do local elected officials, and

WHEREAS, an Emergency Manager would cost the City of Ypsilanti more than the current cost of our City Manager and City Council, and

WHEREAS, even Emergency Managers will not have sufficient funds to provide basic services because the funds have been diverted to business tax cuts and other uses by the choice of the Governor and the Legislature, and

WHEREAS, it is outrageous to propose a system of government that eliminates duly elected officials, consolidates control in one person, the Governor, and effectively allows the Governor to rule local governments and schools through his appointees, and

WHEREAS, it is even more outrageous that this has been done suddenly and without thorough public debate or a vote of the citizens of Michigan, and

WHEREAS, these choices of the Governor and Legislature are contrary to the cherished traditional American principles of local determination and democracy.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Ypsilanti City Council petitions the Governor and Michigan Legislature to immediately reconsider the destructive effects of their budget choices, and enact solutions that helps municipalities and school districts in overcoming financial challenges rather than causing and severely aggravating those financial problems as under the present state budget proposals, and

THAT the Governor and Michigan Legislature revise the state’s outdated and failed tax system to provide relief from the impact of declining property values on local tax revenues and to reduce dependence on property taxes and ensure more stable local revenues, and

THAT the Governor and Michigan Legislature revise the provisions of Public Act No. 4 of 2011 so that the powers of the Emergency Manager are proportionate to the actual needs of each affected municipality or school district, and that the Emergency Financial Manager be required to work with local elected officials and citizens rather than eliminating local representation and control.

OFFERED BY: ___Council Member Bodary_________________________________
SUPPORTED BY: ____Council Member Vogt________________________________
YES: 7 NO: 0 ABSENT: 0 VOTE: Carried

So, what now?

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5 Comments

  1. Andrew Jason Clock
    Posted May 6, 2011 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

    Can we pass one next asking council to base all future policy on the best interests of the city as a whole and all of it’s residents instead of what is politically expedient in their ward/neighborhood?

    I suppose this is a good gesture. I think the language needed a little more refining, specifically, dropping “outrageous” and “more outrageous” in favor of something a little more solid. Maybe “it is contrary to the principals of our government” or something of the sort. To me, outrageous makes it sound like you’re covering a rant with legalese. But really, right now, I don’t think there’s much more any city council can do other than lodge a formal protest. Our lobbyist seems to have stop earning his keep a while ago, so I guess this is the next step.

    Wonder how a state take over will go down in some little town that considers itself a conservative, small government type place? Should be interesting when folks start to realize that when they voted for small government, they actually voted big brother.

  2. Glen S.
    Posted May 7, 2011 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    Congratulations to Council members Vogt and Bodary for introducing this, and to City Council and the Mayor for passing it unanimously.

    I, too, hope other communities and school districts will use this a model for similar resolutions aimed at expressing our opposition to Snyder and the Republicans’ disastrous policies.

    And — while I realize this may be too much to ask — I also hope statements such as these will serve as a wake-up call to the Michigan Democratic Party that it is not enough to just oppose the Republicans issue-by-issue; the time has come to develop and articulate a comprehensive, alternative “plan,” for how they would do things differently — starting with an alternative budget and tax proposals.

    Admittedly, big losses due to term limits and last year’s Republican “wave,” along with Granholm’s departure, seem to have left Michigan Democrats lacking focus and searching for a new direction, which is clearly a crisis — but also an opportunity to re-think and rebuild.

    Personally, I would love to see an alternative plan that centers on passing a Constitutional amendment instituting a graduated income tax; and perhaps one to put the school-aid fund in a “lock box,” as well. I’d also like to see substantial reform in the way Michigan handles criminal sentencing — so that we could rejoin the list of states that actually spend more on education than prisons. (The Snyder budget, btw, accelerates Michigan’s downward slide in the other direction …)

    And, as Murph so frequently points out, we need an actual state “policy” that directs transportation and other resources toward sustaining and rebuilding urban communities, rather than encouraging more wasteful and expensive sprawl.

    There’s no end of good ideas out there that could serve to counter-balance to the Republican zombie nightmare of tax, spending and regulatory cuts as the answer to every problem — but the Democrats (or somebody!) needs to put them together in a clear and easy to understand way, and present them to Michigan citizens as a comprehensive and logical alternative to the steady stream of slash-and-burn politics we’re currently getting from Lansing.

  3. Jeff
    Posted May 7, 2011 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    I’m feeling proud of our council for this.

  4. Goofus
    Posted May 8, 2011 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    Andy is right! Bodary and Vought cast votes for the pool that cost the city a $500,000 grant. Now they are asking the state to redo their tax structure with symbolic resolutions? They have some balls.

  5. Tommy
    Posted May 9, 2011 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    Is 17 WHEREAS’S a record? That’s a lot! Could have been thrifted to WHEREAS we are getting fucked in the ass and really would rather not be …

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