Two views on the consolidation of Ypsilanti City and Township services

Earlier this week, in a conversation about whether or not the City and Township should consolidate services, there was a great comment left by our former City Planner, Richard Murphy, which I felt that I should move up here, to the front page. Here it is.

I agree with you that a broad generalization splitting the 75,000 residents of the Ypsilantis into philosophical camps based on municipal boundaries is probably not a great way to approach the question of consolidation.

It’s history more than philosophy: a decade ago, the city’s water & sewer infrastructure was 50-100 years old, compared to the Township’s 0-50 years old. So it’s simple engineering, not belief, that’s responsible for the surcharge on our water bills — aging, failing pipes don’t belong to any political party.

Beyond that, it’s a demonstration that Michigan’s conception of local governance has some fundamental flaws to it. As in so many other cases around the state, the creation of our friendly local Charter Township was based in a belief that communities can be run like the GM bankruptcy: put all the liabilities in one bucket called “Old Ypsi” in order to give “New Ypsi” a fresh start and a clean ledger. The problem is that the “liabilities” of a community aren’t just some financial fiction somewhere that can be made to go away over time — they’re school buildings and parks, roads and utility infrastructure, churches, universities, and county buildings.

In our case, as across the state, the older city is stuck with a disproportionate share of tax-exempt land uses and infrastructure, which the newer township surrounding it utilizes: the majority of Ypsi Public Schools’ property is within the City, even though the city is only a third of the district. Many of the churches in the city draw most of their congregations from the townships — and keep buying additional city land, removing it from the tax rolls, to build parking lots to serve their commuting township congregants. Township residents use city roads to travel through the city: according to SEMCOG data, more than half of the mileage that happens within the city limits doesn’t have an endpoint in the city — it’s just through traffic. (I-94 is excluded from that.) The recent drama over Grove Road is a great example of that: the Township telling the City that the City must repave Grove…because Township residents need to drive on it. University students keep city housing stock occupied, to be sure, but they do the same for Township housing — only the City has the burden of a tax-exempt campus balancing out the benefits of hosting the campus community.

Meanwhile, the primary asset balancing a community’s liabilities is developable land — under Headlee and Proposal A, a community that is not continually building new tax base is mathematically destined for budgetary starvation. This asset is found in abundance in the Township, while the City has to go to significant lengths to create it (e.g. Water Street).

I say all this to point out that it is not some irreconcilable difference, some fundamental clash of philosophies, some nefarious plot — it’s simply the unintended consequences of a past century’s public policy decisions at the state level playing out on the ground, and it’s happening all over the state.

In that context, “How do ‘us and them’ work together despite our irreconcilable differences?” isn’t a terribly productive, or accurate, way to approach this. “How do ‘we all’ work together to meet our mutual interests [safe neighborhoods, good schools, healthy local economy, attractive parks & cultural amenities] in a fiscally sustainable way?” is probably better. …And it’s probably something that will need support (statutory and financial) from the State to get over transition costs and other obstacles.

And, here, in the spirit of fairness, is a response from Township resident EOS.

I think there are a few spots that are off. For one, the High School and Middle School are in the township, not the City. Secondly, Ypsilanti City is a destination for very few in the Township. If we want to visit a city, we go to Ann Arbor. Third, if you want to erect toll booths and charge Township residents for the privilege of driving on your roads, we can counter with the same. Problem is, we can drive around the City limits to get to our destination, whereas City residents can’t go anywhere outside the city limits without driving through the Township. Fourth, the cost of policing is so high in the city because of the quantity of police services that are desired by officials for a mere 3.5 sq. mi. of land. (You want more than you can afford.) And lastly, you have no basis for claiming that the township is responsible for pulling the City out of debt any more than any other governmental entity. Why not guilt trip the City of Ann Arbor – they’ve got more wealth, or Birmingham, or Traverse City for that matter.

Ypsilanti City budget problems are not a shared responsibility of the Township. We are a separate and distinct governmental unit.

Where do you stand?

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55 Comments

  1. Publipsy
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 12:19 am | Permalink

    Murph, per usual, is right in a lot of ways. I think his assumptions of shared desires, though, are naive. In brackets, I’ve added to what he said: we [really] all want:

    -[a] safe neighborhood [for me],
    -good schools [for my kids],
    -[a] healthy local economy [for me],
    -attractive parks [for me]
    & cultural amenities [for me]
    …in a fiscally sustainable way [for me]’”

    The current “owners” of the Twp so despise democracy that they rail against the idea of districts (aka: representation). If it weren’t for the housing bubble burst, EOS would have already segregated herself to Adrian.

    The Twp won’t even police itself. Most of it, save the outskirts of un-democratically-elected control, is a total mess. (Willow Run IS Ypsi Twp.)

    That’d be okay (I like WR), but…

    It’s a bad deal for Ypsi proper. Do you really want EOS having an unrepresentational majority vote over funding? Do you want EOS to determine our recycling program? Policing? What input would you like EOS to have control? Do you want to “merge” with Romney?

    Wait ten years. EOS and her ilk will flee to Rolling Hills. Until then, stay and pay. It’s good living. Perhaps the best in state.

    There’s lots of empty land for EOS to commute to.

    There’s only one Ypsi.

    I love it.

    I live here.

    I’m more than happy to
    pay the Ypsi luxury
    tax.

    I’m not so eager
    to pay
    for
    EOS’s
    riding
    mower
    relocation.

    No doubt. I will.

  2. alan2102
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 5:19 am | Permalink

    Many students, especially those who are poor, intuitively know what the schools do for them. They school them to confuse process and substance. Once these become blurred, a new logic is assumed: the more treatment there is, the better are the results; or, escalation leads to success. The pupil is thereby “schooled” to confuse teaching with learning, grade advancement with education, a diploma with competence, and fluency with the ability to say something new. His imagination is “schooled” to accept service in place of value. Medical treatment is mistaken for health care, social work for the improvement of community life, police protection for safety, military poise for national security, the rat race for productive work. Health, learning, dignity, independence, and creative endeavor are defined as little more than the performance of the institutions which claim to serve these ends, and their improvement is made to depend on allocating more resources to the management of hospitals, schools, and other agencies in question.
    – Ivan Illich
    http://www.arvindguptatoys.com/arvindgupta/DESCHOOLING.pdf

  3. Edward
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Watching Mr. Murphy and EOS debate is like watching a college professor trying to care for a baby with irritable bowel syndrome.

  4. Dan
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    @Publipsy

    what is this supposed to mean? “Do you really want EOS having an unrepresentational majority vote over funding?” Are you insinuating that if the two entities did combine, the 20k people from ypsi city are more representative than the 50k from the township?

    Are you saying that you basically want to be able to allocate funds for your section of the combined entity as you see fit, but draw on the tax revenue from everyone?

    As much as you love your city and your “luxury tax”, those of us in the township love our township as well. Contrary to popular belief here, we do have great recycling. We do have parks. We do have police and fire protection. We look out for each other just the same as you. Just because we like a more suburban lifestyle, doesnt mean we are militia members.

    I have no idea why the bashing of the township is so persistent here.

  5. EOS
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Dan,

    You are absolutely right. The Township and the City share the Library District. The Township pays 66 – 75% of the operating costs. The Township also donated the land on which the Whittaker Rd. Library is built. 2 of the 3 libraries are not located in the Township. The Library Board is elected at large and city residents are a majority of the board. The City wants the township to pay for combined services, at a level of service dictated by the minority of city residents. This is just one example of many.

  6. kjc
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    @Dan

    “I have no idea why the bashing of the township is so persistent here.”

    I presume at least some of it comes it from reactions to EOS, who is the loudest voice on this site proclaiming to represent the township’s point of view. Any idea why his bashing of the city is so persistent?

  7. EOS
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    Mark repeatedly brings up the topic of consolidating the City and Township. My “bashing” of the city is only to point out to other Township residents the disadvantages of collaboration/consolidation. I wouldn’t care in the least how the City wishes to govern and spend their taxpayers funds if they didn’t continually try to involve non-residents in paying for city services.

  8. Dan
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    @kjc

    it’s not just the EOS bashing and calling people teapublicans and what not. I just dont get why the city folk seem to think that the twp has no parks or recycling or community activity. It’s like you guys think the city proper is the last bastion of neighborly people and civilization in Washtenaw Co. You act like there are no neighborhood watches or community pools anywhere outside of Normal Park.

  9. kjc
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    @Dan

    well i don’t think those things. I’ve been to township parks. again i point to the EOS, who over and over has expressed his antipathy for the city and the needs of its people. but maybe i speak for myself alone in finding him the loudest representative of your township. though if you find his views amenable, then you can’t really be confused as to where negative perceptions might come from. i just remind myself of what blog voices can make me forget: he doesn’t speak for everyone. i’d love to hear from other people in the township, but i assume we only get a certain slice in forum like this.

  10. kjc
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    full disclosure: when i was in township parks, i didn’t know it. they were so close to my house!

    i’m not from michigan so a new city or town every 10 stoplights or so kind of throws me off.

  11. kjc
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    further disclosure: i’ve never walked around normal park like i have township parks. those people might totally be assholes.

  12. Dan
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    I certainly agree with his sentiments that the twp and city should not combine. I dont know much else about his views, but I generally lean liberal, especially on social issues.

    I do object to the city’s seemingly endless proposals to have residents subsidize their bad decisions. I have no problems paying taxes for services, but it’s gotten to the point in the city where they are going to drive people out. This “luxury tax” mentioned above may sound great to some, but in this economy, most people can’t afford it, and there are cheaper surrounding communities that offer just as much

  13. Chairman Meow
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Dan: which “surrounding” community offers a diverse population, the Dreamland Theater, Beezy’s, and a food co-op?

    Oh wait. You must be referring to Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

  14. Dan
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    Diverse population? Every surrounding community does.

    And a puppet show is cool and all, but do you really need to live next door to it. And cafe’s and produce are everywhere. Sorry if I dont see the point in paying extra thousands of dollars in taxes to live next door to them. If I really like a place enough, I’ll drive the extra 2-5 miles to get there. I like the Brecon Grille in Saline quite a bit. Doesnt mean I have to be a resident of Saline to enjoy it.

  15. Chairman Meow
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    If by “cafe’s and produce” you mean Starbucks and Kroger, you go deep and I’ll pass.

  16. Dan
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    Drive around the south parts of the township, Saline, Augusta, York etc. Ya know, where the farms are. There’s produce stands a plenty.

  17. gary
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    i live in a beautiful 1700 square foot victorian home that is a few minutes walk from depot town and downtown. i paid less than $2500 in property taxes last year.

    brenda stumbo lives in a 1500 square foot home in a sub that that is miles away from even a party store. she paid $2900 in property taxes last year.

  18. Dan
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    @gary

    people have different tastes in houses, but the market would show that your house is worth about half of what her house is. A house of the value of hers in your neighborhood would cost $4500 in prop taxes.

  19. EOS
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    When I moved out of the City to the township, I doubled the sq. footage of my house and decreased my taxes by nearly 50%.

  20. Chairman Meow
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    And you can even walk to your neighbor’s rifle cabinet.

  21. gary
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    i thought this was an argument about high property taxes.

    now it’s an argument about property values.

    i see.

    if having better police and fire services as well as better public transportation and being walking distance to 8 bars and restaurants and within walking distance to 5 parks means my bigger, nicer house that i pay less in property taxes on is worth less than hers, then i’m okay with that.

  22. Glen S.
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Trying to characterize this as a “luxury tax” is asinine.

    Nobody in Ypsilanti is proposing a tax to pay for unusual or extraordinary services. What’s being proposed is an additional tax that would enable Ypsilanti to (mostly) continue to provide core services that are considered “standard” in any other community: Police, Fire, Parks maintenance, etc.

    And, while some of you are busy stoking the “City vs. Township” flame-war, here’s something else to think about: If we fail to address Ypsilanti’s looming structural deficit — and the result ends up being either devastating cuts to Police and Fire, or a Pontiac-style Emergency Manager — does anybody really think the negative publicity and consequences will remain contained within our (highly-irregular, and not-well-understood) City boundaries?

    When folks outside our community think “Ypsilanti” they generally think of everything East of Carpenter Rd., and west of Willow Run Airport. A “failing” Ypsilanti will generate lots of bad press, which spells bad news for Ypsilanti, for Ypsilanti Township, and for Washtenaw County, as a whole.

  23. Tommy
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    I have lived in both the city 81-85, the township 85-87, the township that I thought was in the city boundaries 87-92, and certainly the township 92-2004. Now I reside in a small city to the west of Ypsi. Even way back when, there was talk of combining the city and the township into one contiguous land mass, combining the school districts, combining the services, etc. Conceptually it is a great idea that would in the long run save money, create a better ‘community’ in my view. Unfortunately human beings are involved so the thought that this will become reality is just a thought. There is no logical – l o g i c a l – reason why this couldn’t be done in a heart beat. It might even – dare I say – make it a better community. If combining a region into one can be accomplished like has been done in Louisville, Kentucky, it certainly can be done with a 4 square mile parcel of land that really does have a lot to offer.

  24. EOS
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Time for a name change!

  25. Tommy
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    I always thought that Woodruff’s Grove was a cool name – it was thrown around for the township a long time ago (if I recall, it was to try to disassociate the township and the city as Ypsi was a bad, bad place and the township apparentlt was not in the view of its leaders – who at the time were the good old boys, to be replaced by the good old girls). Not unsimilar to East Detroit to Eastpointe or Pontiac Township to Auburn Hills.

  26. Dan
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    @Glen,

    Publipsy is the one who dubbed it a “luxury tax”

  27. Tommy
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Ypsi (the city) is worth saving and fighting for. If part of a greater combined area, so be it.

  28. Dan
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    @Gary,

    “i thought this was an argument about high property taxes.
    now it’s an argument about property values.”

    Property taxes are a function of property value (obviously). Your home is an asset (well, it SHOULD be, but many are underwater and are now liabilities in this region). You pay taxes to protect and service your asset.

  29. Edward
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    The combination of the two is going to happen. It may not happen soon, but it will happen. And I imagine the city will be positioned as a special assessment district or something, with higher taxes, due to the Water Street debt, etc. It would help if we had leaders with vision who could help make this happen. In the absence of that, we’re left slugging it out on blogs. We elect leaders with the expectation that they will lead. Why don’t they?

  30. Dan
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    Why stop at Ypsi Twp?

    Why not just incorporate Pittsfield and Superior as well? Hell, we could even get the taxes from Legg’s Lounge if we include Van Buren.

  31. Burt Reynolds
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    Ooooh. A name change would be sweet. Nothing against the City or Township, but having a chance at a new name would be great. Kind of like being able to name your child again at age 2 because you thought of a better name. Woodruffs Grove is awesome sounding imo.

  32. Burt Reynolds
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, completely off topic, but as there are many City dwellers in this thread, I thought this information might be handy. Today I was sitting in Court (business, not pleasure) and I’ll be damned if the guy that robbed Beezy’s, Hermanos, the skate shop, and Korey’s, wasn’t there for his final pre-trial. He took a plea for the robberies of Beezy’s and Dos Hermanos. The rest of the charges are dropped. His sentencing is next month, but as part of his plea deal, he will serve a minimum of 19 months. Also, he does not look as creepy in person as he does in the picture.

  33. Tommy
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Combining the two would create fodder on this blog for years to come. Those damn hillbillies and urban wannabes from the township coming into the real Ypsi to mingle with asshole college kids and the Ypsi-hipsters townies. Kind of like ……….. the library on Whitaker Road.

  34. Posted January 18, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    To all you township folks. Do you even look at your property tax bill? Less than a third of my property taxes support the city. The rest goes to the county, the school district, the library board, the sewer/water surcharge and other government entities. How much of a township property tax goes to the township? I know my taxes are high because we have repeatedly approved SCHOOL tax increases.
    The reason many of us in the city “bash” the township is because of the clique that has controlled township government for years (ie. the Stumbo crowd). The nepotism which has ruled the township along with the racism which has left some areas of it devoid of services (Willow Run–the corner of the township west of Mansfield, the neighborhoods around Grove are examples). I for one do not want the township to merge with the city. ANNEXATION of the neighborhoods next to the city–particularly those west of Mansfield make the most since. By the way I am unaware of any township swimming pools–Rolling Hills is a county park that city residents pay for. In addition the old JYRO park was basicly stolen from the city by the township. It was that experience that informed the Library struggle. The township tried to steal the library, but us city folks fought back–and we still have a library in the city as a result. This is of course that same township clique that forced an incinerator (and the consequent increase in my YCUA bill) down our throats–our lungs and our kids lungs. Has any body else noticed your water/sewer bill doubling in the last couple of years? THANKYOU township residents who keep the corrupt Stumbo crowd around. IF the folks in the township cleaned up its government–mergers and consolidations of services might actually happen–

  35. anonymous
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Burt,

    When EOS said that it was time for a name change, I think he was suggesting that it might be time for him to change his online handle.

    I suggest NAMBLA MAN.

  36. Tommy
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    My point has just been proven! As long as people are involved, we’re doomed

  37. Dan
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    less than 1/3 of our taxes go to the township, as well. http://ytown.org/government/treasurers-office/2010-tax-rate

    As for community pools, some of the subdivisions in south twp have community pools.

  38. Dan
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    And actually, over 50% of your tax bill goes to the City:

    https://cityofypsilanti.ewashtenaw.org/services/fiscal_services/treasurer_division/2010_Millage_Rates

  39. Max Abuelsamid
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    Jeez, this is like a kindergarden. I have lived in the township all my life and know Ypsi city and township, and I see no real difference. We all live in the same little area, why can’t we work together to jointly protect the great things we’ve got and fix the shit that we don’t want?

  40. EOS
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    Wobblie,

    1) The township pays the same school taxes as everyone else in the district where the students attend.

    2) Annexation requires township voter approval.

    3) The township paid $10K for the city pool last year, while the city residents pay nothing but user fees for our entire recreation program.

    4) The township clique STOPPED the incinerator.

    5) The city water bill increased because you replaced a lot of very old water mains.

    6) The city forced the library district to restore a small historical building with minimal parking at a huge expense. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Whittaker Road branch cost less than the downtown renovation, but I don’t know the costs of each.

    7) I’m glad you don’t want to consolidate with the Township.

  41. Publipsy
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 12:43 am | Permalink

    On my use of “luxury tax,” it fits well with how I define luxury. I could easily get a bigger, newer, cheaper home elsewhere (with lower taxes). But I like luxury. I like the luxury of wonderful neighbors, walking to unique and high quality establishments, history, architecture, and so on. In short, I think Ypsi living is luxury living, and I’m willing to pay for it.

    People with disposable income like in the city.

    I’ve got a lot of friends in Twp abodes. They’re good people, probably a lot like Dan, and maybe they should get a little more involved in their local governance. Unfortunately, I, like EOS and Wobblie, oppose consolidation. It makes fiscal sense, and I’d like to partner where it makes sense. But…

    -The Twp is still artificially controlled by EOS types. No districts. No representation for a big bunch of their citizens. I find that a bit appalling and am nervous about their instant majority.

    – The Twp has peaked. It’s full of poorly constructed, soon-to-be boring homes that are destined to lose value. It’s tomorrow’s Westland. Or today’s. It’s also lined with roads that are soon to be in need of millages to be rebuilt, etc. I didn’t get to where I am by failing to read the cards.

    Seriously, in ten years, who thinks someone will want to move into one of the tired subdivisions? Merging likely means city folk, who have already weathered the storm, will end up paying for the decay that the Twp is experiencing and fancifully ignoring .

    – The only asset the Twp has is undeveloped land. It will run out, or, more likely, will be valued so low as to attract trailer parks and apartment complexes since the subdivisions’ property values are so low. (Cue tax hikes.)

    -The asset of Ypsi proper is history. Really old stuff, quirky shit, a river … those are assets that endure.

    There are a billion Ypsi Townships aging, losing value. There are precious few old cities. We paid to maintain ours. I’m not eager to take on EOS’s debt as she migrates southwest. If you live in the Twp., financial advise: divest in the next three years. If you live in the City, enjoy the lap of luxury!

  42. kjc
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    @Publipsy sounds right to me.

  43. Dan
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    @Publipsy,

    I think that review of the twp is both wishful thinking and myopic.

    -People here keep saying the township is full of poorly constructed homes. What is your basis for this? All of the new subdivisions by me are very well constructed with “state of the art” foundations/basements. Just because a house is new and not “Victorian” doesnt mean it is shitty construction. I’d much rather have a new, energy friendly home than a 100 year old home with cobble “basement” or worse. Thats my preference.

    -The property values in the south twp where the new “shitty” subdivisions are have seen the same property value trajectory as Normal Park and the nicer areas of the city. You may not agree, but newly constructed homes in quiet subdivisions are actually quite attractive to families and young couples. Not everyone wants to live in a quasi-urban district.

    -The only part of the twp that are like Westland is the north west corner. This is not where the new “poorly constructed homes” are located that you think will be worth shit any day now. The newly developed township is more like north Macomb County. Mostly new subdivisions and mostly residential.

    -All michigan roads need to be serviced regularly. Twp roads are in no worse condition than surrounding areas.

    I respect the City’s assets and agree that the river and architectural are special. It’s an old town, with a lot of character. Obviously new citys and townships arent going to have the same thing. I just think the city pulls WAY too much in taxes for such a small community.

    for comparison, the city is 4.5 sq mi with 8500 households. It generates 11.5 mill in property taxes (1350/household). The twp is 32 sq mi with 20,000 households. It generates 17.5 mill in prop taxes (875/household). And the city is the one asking the residents for more. I just dont see why everyone here thinks the CITY is the one running things properly.

  44. wetdolphinmissile
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    Such ridiculous comments back and forth (my community is better than your community, “My everything is better than yours and please don’t saddle me with your problems mine are too f**king big!”). Max is right, we are one community whether the twp. wants to own up to it or not. If Ypsi peeps vote for an income tax and water street millage in May…it will not be the twp. debt ever, so quit whining about which side of the street you live on. If we ever consolidate, city, twp., or schools, it will be because it is so ridiculous to keep spending money for separate entities that change every couple of blocks/miles.

  45. Jules
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Right on, Max.

  46. Posted January 19, 2012 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    EOS, You must be one of those faith based people where reality does not matter. This link will take you to pictures and other information about the incinerator that you don’t think exist.

    http://www.tetratech.com/us/ypsilanti-world-class-biosolids-incinerator.html

    Dan, I am looking at my bill, and less than 30% goes to the city. I pay special assessments for the streets, (I am sure the townships folks on Mansfield also pay special assessments for their street as well). I also pay a special assessment for the new sewers I have (some thing that the folks on Mansfield are probably also paying).

    I’ll take my inept but honest city officials any day vs. the corruption that has ruled township politics for decades–that is the fundamental “cultural” difference between city and township. If people like EOS and Dan would help reform the township–then perhaps consolidation could be achieved, but until the township folks demonstrate they have no tolerance for corruption and nepotism, I do no want to be part of the same government as them—the City of Ypsilanti would get treated the same way they have treated Willow Run (they are part of the township you know).

  47. Dan
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    @wobblie

    You are either in a nonhomestead situation, or you must be looking at your tax bill wrong. 24.35 mills goes directly to the city for police/fire and “general operating”, as my link (from the city’s govt website) shows. There are an extra 7 mills for street improvements and sanitation on top of that, that is also technically to the city. You HAVE to pay that, if you arent, then something is wrong in your bill. If you are homestead, that is 54% of your total taxes. If you are non-homestead, the 24.35 mills would be right around 1/3 of your tax bill.

    as far as the corruption and nepotism, i guess I’ll have to plead ignorance on that. I guess I havent lived here long enough and/or like you said need to get more involved. But my experiences so far with her administration have been fine.

  48. Publipsy
    Posted January 20, 2012 at 12:35 am | Permalink

    Dan,

    It’s not hard to figure out. People like new things and old things. New things, whether they deserve to or not, fall out of fad and become ugly things. They lose value. Ypsi city’s ugly asbestos and vinyl sided “makeovers” of century old homes are ample evidence to how quickly tastes change. But, enough time passes and they become cherished relics. Hipsters peer into their windows and make offers,

    The Twp is rapidly approaching the transition from “new” to “ugly.” With it will come declining property values and, as you note, 32 sq fking mi! of infrastructure to maintain. With a little luck, the Twp homes might make it to “old.” But there will be a lot of lean years unless Ypsi Twp somehow defies logic and history. What is the Twp asset that transcends falling out of fad?

    As a city resident, my home has weathered it. My cobblestone basement is built of actual state-of-art, twenty-inch-thick stones. Cutting-edge old-growth wood you can’t drill through. Windows reinforced with blow-dried plastic. The same reason settlers chose this spot on the river more than a century ago endures.

    I’m not saying my city is greater than yours. It’s just older. I already replaced my sewer line. (Eventually, you’ll have to.) I’m saying to city residents that every upgrade we paid for in our community will also need to be made in the Twp. It’s not a dig; it’s facts of life. We bought our canes and dentures. You will soon need canes and dentures. They cost.

    It’s also facts that Dan and EOS outnumber us 2-1 on any merger. So if we merge, we will pay … again.

  49. EOS
    Posted January 20, 2012 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    Wobblie,

    My comments were in reference to the proposed hazardous waste incinerator:

    http://www.thefreelibrary.com/ENVOTECH+DISCONTINUES+PLAN+FOR+HAZARDOUS+WASTE+INCINERATOR+IN+AUGUSTA…-a013177487

    The incinerator that you referenced is “the cleanest burning, most advanced municipal biosolids incinerator system in the United States”. The YCUA Biosolids Incinerator Project won an American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) National Honor award in 2007. (Cut and pasted from your link)

    Publipsy,
    If upgrades have been made recently in the city infrastructure, then they’ll now be on the same replacement schedule as the “new” stuff in the Township. Canes and dentures don’t last forever.

  50. ZoetheWonderDog
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    I live in the township and I’ll admit, I bought my house before I had a clue about this great divide. If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t buy in the township. I find the parochial views of people like EOS downright offense and have no wish to be associated with them.

    As I have said on this blog before: annex me. I’m pro-consolidation. Piecemeal attempts at consolidation have been great for our community (such as the library). I’m amazed that these efforts haven’t yet convince people of the value of larger community approach to public services and governance.

    Murph (or Mark) please get up a post about state funding to local government — I don’t think this process and recent changes to it are well known and the consequence of this ignorance is that people continue to think that somehow Ypsi’s political leaders were just on a bender for the last decade and that’s why things are now difficult.

  51. EOS
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Some Wonder Dog! Doesn’t research tax rates before making perhaps the biggest purchase of his life? I suspect the dog is a poser and really lives in the city.

  52. kjc
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    the wonder dog didn’t say he or she was concerned about tax rates. the dog is concerned about assholes.

  53. Posted January 24, 2012 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

    The basic property tax difference between the city and the township is about 10 mil.s (take out all special assessments and other taxing authorities (school, libraries etc.) about 25 mils. in the city and mid-teens in the township. On my house assessed at $85,000 I pay $1338.00 to the city to support all on-going activity. As I have pointed out before, I pay less in city property taxes than many people pay in Condo fees. Since my city taxes are less than $4 a day (less than a pack of smokes, when I smoked), I have had no problem voting for other tax assessments. I happen to believe in public schools, and support them. I want public transportation, and I support it. I want a public library, and so I support it. Now I thought we got ripped off on the sewers and the streets (after all when we voted in the street improvements we did not know YCUA was going to force us into doing the sewers at the same time).
    Everyone keeps talking about the “efficiencies” of consolidations and mergers. I say look at YCUA. The township has made out like bandits, while we the jr. partner get the short end of the stick regularly from that “merger”. We do better with the library board because those folks are elected independently, rather than being appointed.

    Dan, no I am not reading my tax bill incorrectly. EOS, thanks for joining the reality based world and accepting that there is an incinerator that burns our solid waste in the township. We could perhaps have a discussion on the history of how the township government forced that overpriced, toxic spilling monstrosity on the NE side of the township and the city and what good thinking folks in the township might do to clean up its government.

    The biggest challenge both the township and the city face is our collapsing housing values. Looked at a very desirable updated Queen Anne in the city last night. Could buy it for $68,000. Earlier in the day looked at a collection of 3 multi-unit rentals that could be had for $90,000. In the last five years we have seen the real value of our property decline by 50% (perhaps even higher in some parts of the township).

    At some point our assessed valuations will fall to the market value and all of our property tax supported efforts will face the same problems that our city is facing. Proposition A and the Headlee amendment, along with Ypsi’s particular geography has boxed us in in many ways.

    As a way of thinking out side of that box, I would suggest a “public safety” annexation of the township neighborhoods and business districts that abut the city. The townships failure to provide sufficient policing for such places as Tuscon Place and other high density developments adjacent to the city is notorious. Recent events on the east side of the township also highlighted this problem. The township neighborhoods adjacent to the city were constructed with the intent of one day being annexed. I don’t imagine that the additional tax base will solve our problems—but if it stabilized police, fire and basic public works for the expanded area, then our other problems might be solvable. Perhaps the creation of a special “public safety” assessment area encompassing a “Greater Ypsilanti” , might create a solution without annexation.

  54. EOS
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    What would be real “thinking outside the box” for city residents is to create a budget that provides service levels that are affordable with the current city revenues, paid for by the residents of your city.

    We township people would be content to move our outhouses every couple of years and burn the solid waste in place. Go ahead, annex us and see how cool the city becomes.

  55. Dan
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    wobblie, you continue to ignore the 2 links I provided showing the actual tax rates in both the city and township. The difference in tax rate is NOT 10 mills, it is 20 mills. You cant just decide to remove portions of the tax rate because you agreed to vote for things. Thats how all the mills work.

    The FACT of the matter is that the much much larger twp operates on a total of 11.9 mills, while the much much smaller city operates on a total of 31.5. The rest is common county and state taxes that we all pay. So as I’ve pointed out, the actual tax rate that the city collects is over two and half times what the twp collects.

    http://ytown.org/government/treasurers-office/2010-tax-rate

    https://cityofypsilanti.ewashtenaw.org/services/fiscal_services/treasurer_division/2010_Millage_Rates

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