The Ypsilanti Income Tax cyber debate… starts now!

As I mentioned earlier, I think there are persuasive arguments both for and against the passing of a personal income tax in Ypsilanti. On the pro side, I like the fact that it would allow us to maintain an acceptable level city services, while delaying our slide into receivorship under the rule of an unelected Emergency Manager, who would, among other things, sell our community assets without regard for our long-term interests. And, I like that, for once, we’d have a way to capture some revenue from the non-resident employees of EMU, who, while receiving the benefit of our city services, have historically paid nothing for them. On the con side, I acknowledge that the passing of such a tax will make it less likely that businesses will open in Ypsilanti, that people will move here, etc. It will also add additional financial burden on all of us, at a time when we’re already struggling, and insecure about the future. Personally, I think the solution is a graduated income tax across the state of Michigan, with a more equitable mechanism for revenue sharing with cities, like Ypsilanti. But, it’s too late for us to have that battle now, it would seem. So, we’re faced with this no-win situation. And, given that, I think the best that we can hope for is to conduct ourselves with integrity as we go through the process, put all of our cards on the table, and face this thing like adults… which is why it bothers me so much to hear that those on one side of the issue are refusing to debate, and taking efforts to stop information from being shared. I can accept that people are against the tax. What I can’t accept is laughably-transparent political gamesmanship when the very future of our community is at stake.

Well, as it doesn’t look like we’ll be having a real, public debate, I thought that, at the very least, I could repost some of the more persuasive arguments that have been left here on the site over the past few days, by individuals on both sides of the issue, for your consideration… I’ll start with my favorite comment of all. It comes from Amy Morgan.

Amy Morgan:

I recognize that it confirms my status as a left wing nut job to say so, but I’m with Margaret Wheatley in that I believe conversation – the kind where we actually remain curious about one another – is the basic way people think together. I’ve had a lot of those conversations in Ypsi; not the “I think this and you think that therefore we are not the same and I can write you off as crazy,” kind, but the “I think this and you think that and we both love our city and isn’t life interesting see you at the coop/bar/park/farmers’ market” kind.

Thinking together is what we NEED if this city is going to survive and be the kind if place we want to live in. While I have come out in favor of the income tax, what I’m REALLY in favor of is a productive exchange of ideas. A community where everyone has enough confidence in our collective ability to THINK for our city that we debate (converse) respectfully and passionately in public forums (actual and virtual) with confidence that THINKING TOGETHER we can create solutions that don’t leave anybody out in the cold.

Is it REALLY too late for a debate?

Curt Waugh:

My two-income family will experience at least a 30% tax increase. I can show you the numbers. We are the very type of family that this city needs and this tax will do nothing except make me furious for imposing this on my family. You want some mythical hip Ypsilanti that has never existed and probably never will and you think it’s a cute little game to have my family pay for it.

I’m sorry that the state government has turned against the local municipalities. I’m sorry that the state loves to spend all our money on prisons that don’t make us safer. I’m sorry that general economic conditions have drained this state of way too many people to repopulate Ypsi. I’m sorry Mark and Steve want to drag us all into their little personal spat. I’m sorry our former leaders ruined us with their horrible idea to be land barons. But its not OK to ask my family to fix it.

Why would any of you think that throwing more money at the very people who oversaw this mess is the way out? As I understand it, the first sign of insanity is doing the same action and expecting a different result. How is this any different? I do not trust any of you. THAT is the sane position based on history.

I will debate any of you any time in any venue. I do not belong to any group but I feel someone needs to speak for those of us that all of you are asking to pay for this folly. I’m voting NO. I’m asking everyone I know to vote NO. I will speak with facts about my position and I do not have any personal spat with anybody in city government.

Glen S:

The purpose of these proposals is not to raise more money to build some mythical “hipster” paradise — the purpose of is to make sure we can continue paying for basic services that benefit everyone: Sufficient police protection to prevent and combat crime. A fire department capable responding quickly in an emergency. Making sure there is someone “there” at City Hall when residents or business-owners need assistance.

I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to see any of the City’s budget presentations, or to review the charts/graphs in the Mayor’s recent “State of the City” message, but the facts are pretty sobering. The bottom line is that unless we find some source of additional revenue, the City will have to begin making drastic cuts — and quickly. And, since the City has been cutting steadily for over a decade, and, because the Police and Fire Departments make up the great majority of the General Fund budget, those two areas are really the only place left to cut.

So, while I can understand people not wanting to pay more in taxes, I have to ask: O.K., THEN what?

Are the “No” folks seriously suggesting we should just “let the chips fall,” and risk a downward (and accelerating) spiral of cuts that ultimately leads to a fiscal crisis, gutting our Police and Fire Department, and the imposition of an “Emergency Manager” from Lansing? How, exactly, would that be good for individuals, families, or the community as a whole? What would this do to property values? To insurance rates? To business development?

As for “throwing more money at the very same people who oversaw this mess,” I have to say: (Four) of the City Council members who voted to put these two measures on the ballot ran on an “no new taxes” platform — but have now agreed that our budget situation is so dire that that the additional taxes are needed. Do you really think they would do that — and risk the wrath of supporters and voters — if there were any other way out of this situation?

The choice we face on May 8 is difficult, and the options are far from perfect — but I think a “YES” vote is our best opportunity to keep our community financially stable, and safe, while we wait for the economy to improve, and for things to get better, eventually.

Curt Waugh:

Glen, I have read all the letters and examined all the presentations given so far. I am fully up-to-speed on all facts here. I guess I just don’t see the same doom and gloom in living within our means that the rest of you do.

Yes, the city will have to make cuts. So has my family over the past several years. So have all of you. Whatever the IRS hasn’t taken, DTE picked up. Whatever DTE didn’t get, my insurance company scooped up. And yet my family hasn’t fallen apart and neither have yours. We adjusted. We found a way.

If we get our house in order, there is no emergency manager. That’s not even up for debate. Ypsi has no need for one. That you throw it out within a statement about something else just reveals that fear is your motivator here. You are scared of the unknown and all those demons just tumble over each other in no particular order in your words. The only thing that scares me is the foolish things the Ypsi government has done with my money – provable FACTS. The FACT is that they just can’t help but go back to the well for more. Our money is crack to these folks.

You ask about property values. Property values have already tanked, negating that point entirely. Thanks to that fact, property is actually incredibly affordable in Ypsi. (I saw a 4-bedroom on Summit for $72k.) Has this created a housing boom? No. Even with the larger police force, even with a robust fire department, even with no income tax, Ypsi still got into this housing mess. And yet your main point is that we have to keep funding these things or the city is in trouble. We tried that already. We tried it and yet here we are. I see no correlation between funding these departments beyond our means and the growth of the city. Before you continue to go on about this issue, prove that this works. Show me the data.

You ask, “Then what?” I don’t have all the answers. Paraphrasing Thoreau, “I do not want to spend my life trying to make the world a better place. I simply want to live in it and experience it.” It’s not up to me to have all the answers and it’s not up to me to pay for others’ “answers” when they have no data to show that they will work – when their proposals run counter to the very obvious facts about our own recent history. I do have one example of a huge improvement when the city got out of the way: When the city got out of the community pool business, we got a great new pool. Say what you will, but the city would never have built that pool. PEOPLE built that pool and I definitely have faith in the brilliance of the masses acting in their own self-interest. I do not have faith in government, but these wonderful, passionate, caring people have shown us, “Then what.”

But I really love this statement: “…while we wait for the economy to improve, and for things to get better, eventually.” You have not one shred of evidence for this. I just don’t get the concept that we’re supposed to keep throwing money into the belly of the beast and sit back and cross our fingers. I think we’d be better off pooling our money and heading down to the casino for a spin of the roulette wheel. This just sounds like gambling to me.

Yes Lane, this is a 30% increase for my family. My taxes will go up 30%. It’s absolutely painfully unfair for you to tie this income tax to our property taxes in any way, shape or form. This tax is not indexed to property taxes. There is no end date and no end trigger. This is a permanent tax increase. If it isn’t permanent, then why is there no end date on it?

I will vote NO. I encourage everyone to vote NO. I ask those of you who want to vote for this to ask the people who proposed this why they aren’t being up front about putting an end date or an end trigger on this tax. This is nothing more than an attempt to use fear to lock up a permanent supra-Headlee revenue source. It puts us in the same boat as Detroit. It didn’t work for them and it won’t work for us. Vote NO.

Glen S:

@ Curt

You mention the May 8 proposals as putting us in the “same boat as Detroit.” In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

The budget drama we are seeing in places like Highland Park, Pontiac, Benton Harbor — and Detroit — is a good example of what happens when cities don’t want to face reality of their changing situation, or aren’t willing to take positive steps to deal with it.

Unlike those communities, Ypsilanti has recognized the magnitude of the situation and has been, and continues to be, proactive. We’ve been making cuts for well over a decade … eliminating the City’s Recreation Department, slashing City Hall staff and combining multiple jobs into one, outsourcing things like IT services and police dispatch, trimming total City payrolls, and making staff pay more for healthcare. However, we’ve now reached the point where there really isn’t anything left to cut without hacking away at “core” services, like Police or Fire — or instead, facing the very *real* prospect of a financial crisis, and eventual State takeover.

Difficult situations sometimes require difficult choices. In supporting these proposals, I’m not necessarily trying to “make the world a better place,” I’m merely doing what I think is right to protect my family and my neighbors — by making sure Ypsilanti remains a stable, and safe, place to live.

“I do have one example of a huge improvement when the city got out of the way: When the city got out of the community pool business, we got a great new pool. Say what you will, but the city would never have built that pool. PEOPLE built that pool and I definitely have faith in the brilliance of the masses acting in their own self-interest. I do not have faith in government, but these wonderful, passionate, caring people have shown us, “Then what.””

FACT CHECK: The Friends of Rutherford Pool has indeed saved this precious Ypsilanti resource — primarily by putting together an application for a GOVERNMENT (TAXPAYER FUNDED) GRANT! What’s more, they could not have achieved this without utilizing City staff for technical support, and the City itself, as the “agent” to apply for that grant. I applaud the efforts of the Friends of Rutherford Pool … and we definitely will need more of these kinds of citizen-led projects going forward. But without a viable City Hall (and staff) available to help “leverage” such efforts, these kinds of successes will become more and more difficult.

So, sorry… but trying to paint the new Rutherford Pool as solely a triumph of individual efforts over government incompetence is a bit like when Tea Party-types scream about wanting to “keep the government’s hands off my Medicare.”

S. Lane:


I’m linking property taxes to income tax because the decline in one has directly lead to the need for the other. Why is it unfair to mention that? I appreciate the fact that my taxes have gone down so much.

If your property taxes are anything like mine (about $3500) a 30% increase of your current taxes would be $1,050 meaning at a 1% rate that you would be making over $100,000/year.

Assuming your house is less valuable than mine (and my house is lovely, but pretty small) Lets say your property taxes are $2000. That means a 30% increase would amount to $600 putting your annual income at $60,000/year more than twice the median household income in Ypsi ($28,610.)

Sorry, but I’m just not buying the sob story that contributing 1% of your income to keep cops on the street and city services running is cruel and unusual. The truly impoverished are exempted from paying, and the rest of us should be willing to do our part to help our city pay its debts and weather this recession.

Curt Waugh:

Property taxes – just north of $3,000
Gross income – just south of $100,000 (remember, we’re two incomes)
New taxes – $1,000
Lemme math that for you – $1,000 is 33% of $3,000

We can wiggle those figures around anywhere between 25-35%, but we’re absolutely in that ballpark. Our house was purchased in 1992. Because of Headlee limitations, our taxable value didn’t fall nearly as much as you all imagine. We are not seeing the same drops in property tax that proponents would have you believe.

You also all like to talk about how we’re gonna get EMU to pay, but they only pay 1/2% of their income. We pay 1% – TWICE. You might think “Hey, we’re gonna get what we’re owed from those freeloaders.” But you’re really hitting us four times as hard to get it. Are we just collateral damage?

And I’ll cover this again: Until someone shows me that this income tax is legally tied to triggers in property taxes, these two issues have nothing to do with each other. Though you can philosophize all you want about how happy you are to kick in more money to compensate for one fund source over another, I’m not happy to pay a new tax that will never go away. Not a single city leader has commented once from what I can tell about when this tax goes away. It’s permanent. It has nothing to do with property taxes.

The pool project was lead by private citizens. Though they utilized government resources and tax-funded grants, private citizens had a plan, not the government. I don’t trust the government (particularly one with the track record of Ypsi) to have any good ideas. The one they did have was a disaster coming and going. I’m not against government and I’m not against taxes. I’m against THIS tax.

No one is talking about doing away with government. I only propose that we accept that we must live within our means. I have zero desire to do away with either the police force nor the fire department (nor turn them all-volunteer). I only ask that they, like everybody else – like every one of our families, shrink to fit the revenue available to them.

For those of you spouting gloomy predictions of the Robocop-like future of Ypsi: I simply disagree. You have zero proof and zero data that we will suddenly collapse into a crime-ridden hellhole. It’s the worst sort of fear mongering and it has no place in a debate about financial responsibility. Tip of the hat to Amy Morgan for asking for debate about this issue. We must TALK and THINK this through, not propagandize.

For those of you hurling “tea party” lines at me: You are doing nothing but making enemies and sounding foolish. I am as far from tea party as you can imagine. I believe in equality for all (including marriage). I believe in single payer. I believe in a small military and a peaceful world full of negotiation. I hate all war. I LOVED Mark’s fundraiser for Ozone House and I’m proud that our city told the anti-gay slapdicks to take a hike – TWICE. I also believe that disadvantaging Ypsi compared to its neighbors is no way to attract people to our city. I believe THIS tax is horrible.

If you want to fix the problem, direct all this energy at the state and its obsession with prisons. (Oh, I’m also not “tough on crime” and proud of it. People need help, not punishment.) As we have learned, Ypsilanti has no comprehensive solution. Even with this tax, we will be here again in a few short years, the government crying with its hand out. Tossing in more money and crossing our fingers is what folks do at the casino – doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

Those of you who support this keep saying, “What is your plan?” I throw that right back at you. This very temporary patch you have latched onto like a lifeline is not a plan. You have no plan either. You just have a punt. We can hurl “you have no plan” back and forth all day if you’d like. I doubt anybody really wants to hear that. What they would like is some direction. I believe that direction is Lansing.

I’m not against all taxes. If this was about raising the state income tax, I’m in. Let’s get back to the revenue sharing model we had and move on. I’m against THIS tax. This tax is a bad idea coming and going. Vote NO.

One final statement about the flyer I received at my house from the Stop City Income Tax folks:

This thing is childish, cartoonish and offensive. If you want to change minds, get your facts in order and plant the seeds of truth in people’s minds. It’s this sort of asshole behavior that starts spats like the Mark Maynard / Steve Pierce brawl. How can Mark or any reasonable person evaluate a single idea when you present yourself like this? Why shoot for the lowest common denominator? Hell, I’m with you on this issue and all I want to do is punch whoever made this flyer in the face. You are not a good representative for this issue. Please grow up and join the debate.

So, what are your thoughts on all of this? Are there questions that you still need to have answered before going into the voting booth? Do you feel as though “the time for debate is over”?

Additional resources, for those of you who want to be fully informed before commenting:
City of Ypsilanti income tax FAQ
City of Ypsilanti 5 Year Plan
Stop City Income Tax
Save Ypsilanti Yes
City of Ypsilanti Water Street debt millage FAQ

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  1. Dan
    Posted April 8, 2012 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Curt is destroying the others in this “debate”

  2. Posted April 8, 2012 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    I’m moving other these two comments from the last thread as they spoke directly to Curt’s comments.


    From 2010 to 2011 Curt’s property taxes decreased more than $200, despite a 5% increase in millage rate! Curt, like most property owners in town can look forward to another 5-10% cut in how much they fund local government in 2012. How the hell can we expect local government to cut 5% year after year?

    As a renter who subsidizes all of your homestead exemptions and mortgage deductions I have a hard time mustering sympathy for the homeowners in town bitching about taxes.
    I have decided I will be voting Yes. It’s not in my best interest, my family gross income is in the same ballpark as Curt’s, but >5% reductions in general fund revenues is simply not sustainable.


    Your math for percent increase is incorrect.
    Property taxes – just north of $3,000
    Gross income – just south of $100,000 (remember, we’re two incomes)
    New taxes – $1,000

    Lemme math that for you – $1,000 is 33% of $3,000

    Your are dividing inccome tax increase/current property tax
    Should be: millage tax increase/ current property tax = % millage increase
    Income tax is a 1% increase (from 0% -> 1%), no matter what.

    General Info:
    The millage rate represents the number of dollars that must be paid per thousand dollars

    How to Figure Property Taxes Using Millage Rates |

  3. Dan
    Posted April 8, 2012 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    also Mark, it’s nonsense to say “we’d have a way to capture some revenue from the non-resident employees of EMU who, while receiving the benefit of our city services, have historically paid nothing for it.”

    #1, because of the university, you have many residents paying for the extreme property taxes with non-homestead status (i.e., the students, aka the renters)

    #2, On the same notion, because of EMU, you have many businesses catering towards college aged people and they keep them in business and those businesses pay plenty of taxes

    #3, what are the “benefits” of the city services that these employees “steal?” Fire protection? I’d like to see some numbers on how often they “steal” fire protection

  4. Posted April 8, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Roughly one-third of the property within the city limits of Ypsilanti is off the tax rolls, given that it’s owned by the university, churches and various other non-profits. As we don’t have green space to expand into, like the Township, that makes the job of governance really difficult, from a revenue-generation perspective. (This is why the powers that be decided to gamble on Water Street.) This income tax, as I was saying, would be a way to derive some revenue indirectly from these properties. I wasn’t saying that there weren’t other advantages of having the University in the city. There clearly are. We, however, have roads, sewers and fire fighters to pay for. And, I wasn’t saying that this was reason enough to support the income tax. I was merely saying that it was in the “pro” column, from my perspective, when weighing the pros and cons.

  5. E. Tims
    Posted April 8, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    I disagree with Curt, and I’ll be voting in support of the income tax, but I appreciate the fact that he has the courage of his convictions to debate the issue in public. I wish that others in the SCIT camp would join him in the light of day.

  6. Dan
    Posted April 8, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    ok, I just disagree with the sentiment that the university somehow owes the city something.

    Every other college town in the state benefits from their local university, and I believe detroit is the only one of them that has an income tax.

    I don’t agree with the idea that the teachers and researchers and janitors at a university should have to to pay for a city that they don’t live in.

  7. Jim
    Posted April 8, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Can someone explain the assumptions behind the projections in this chart?

    Why are property tax revenues projected to continue to decline after 2012? Is it projected that (actual market) property values will continue to decrease, or just that assessed values (lagging behind recent decreases in property values) will continue to decrease? Or is there another explanation?

  8. LAKE
    Posted April 8, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    I think both sides of this argument have persuasion to them. However, I agree with Curt. I don’t think the City is going to fall apart or turn into a hellhole either by having to cut into services that are considered core. I think the City has been mismanaged for a long time (do your homework before purchasing toxic land), and that is the real reason these core cuts have to be made. I don’t want Ypsi to have a state imposed Financial Manager, so I think these services need to be cut. Not that I want them to be, but this is where we’re at. I’m not willing to pay more and more for the mismanagement taxes.

    We need to stop making excuses for mismanaging our collective money. We need to make Ypsi a place people want to live and start businesses in. Sure, we all want protections–but I think the taxes scare new investors off more than worrying about if a fire might occur. And, there will still be fire service–just not as much.

    Also, as said Curt, I am not against government or taxes. I have no connection to any groups, especially the Tea Party. I just don’t think this tax is the solution to the problem. I suggest we stop worrying about what will happen if we don’t have this tax, and start realizing that all these services are fairly luxuries that we should begin to live without–or find another way to support. This tax is not going to make Ypsi a great place to live.

  9. J
    Posted April 8, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Even if property values rebound, which no one really expects, the rate at which property assessments can rise is limited. Im not familiar with the exact numbers, but if your property doubled in value tomorrow, your tax bill can only increase by x% where x is a fairly small number.

    Uofm makes payments to a2. 800k in 2009 just for fire. If you use city services you owe money to pay for them. Without me, another apt gets vacant and local business owners are a little poorer. I owe and pay taxes. But because emu is a lot bigger than me they don’t owe anything? Because without them a lot of apts go vacant and local businesses are a lot poorer?Maybe we should adjust tax rates based on how much we need people. So Steve Pierce pays 20 mills less than the homeowner living on social security who can’t afford to spend money at downtown restaurants.

  10. Curt Waugh
    Posted April 8, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    First and foremost: Thank you to Mark for carrying this conversation forward. I believe that we are on absolute opposite sides of the fence here, but we are on opposite sides of a civil fence and I’m glad he’s a part of this community.

    Second, I’m looking at the proposed five-year plan here:

    What I don’t understand is why general fund expenditures are going up EVEN WITH A PROPOSED INCOME TAX. Why would we support budget increases under any circumstances right now? Why are pension contributions going up so much? Where is the spending freeze?

    While, if we get our house in order, there is no call for an EM, pensions are one of the first items they would attack. If we can’t get this in order ourselves in a kinder neighborly fashion, the EM would take a cudgel to it. In conditions like these, all expenses must be assailable. If any are declared off-limits, then we are kidding ourselves that we’re actually trying to solve the problem and instead just admit that we’re trying to maintain the status quo. Are we legally obligated to these expenses?

    I’m sure this has been covered before, but can someone give me the skinny on why this single expense seems to jump off the page as being out of line? I gotta tell ya, in general, it seems like the expenditure side still isn’t even trying while begging for more revenue.

  11. Jim
    Posted April 8, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    I understand that the increase in a property’s taxable value is limited (to the rate of inflation or 5%, whichever is less), but I don’t understand why property tax revenues are projected to _decrease_ after 2012.

  12. Posted April 8, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    Regarding Pension Benefit Expenditures:

    The city of Ypsilanti has two retiree defined benefit plans: a non-union plan that is more than fully funded with no city contribution, and the police and fire pension plan that is currently underfunded with a contribution about 6 mills.

    Employees retire under the contract in effect at that time. Benefits can’t be changed after retirement. This is protected by state and federal law.

    The city of Ypsilanti has started negotiations with unions and will be reducing future retiree costs. Unfortunately, those cost reductions won’t be seen for many years.

    Many other cities in Michigan and all over the country have the same problem.

    Paul Schreiber

  13. Mr. Y
    Posted April 8, 2012 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    Could someone explain to me why a compromise couldn’t be struck, where we’d agree to a temporary income tax, for, say, a period of five years, at which time it could be readdressed? That would allow us to keep the Emergency Manager at Bay, and give us the time we need to fight for substantive change in Lansing.

  14. Kerri
    Posted April 8, 2012 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Mark for doing this – and for the people who started the Facebook group – since it seems that we will not have the opportunity to debate this in person, as we truly deserve to be able to do on such an important issue, but anyway…

    I am voting yes on both. Am I happy about it? Of course not. I don’t think anyone who’s voting yes is thrilled to pay more taxes, or to have their neighbors pay more taxes, or to have renters, EMU employees, etc. pay. But what is the alternative, if we want to keep this a good, safe place to live and work? I live in Normal Park, and we’ve recently had a streak of break-ins. I personally lost a nice lawnmower, but some of my friends and neighbors lost a whole lot more that that. Fortunately, I think our cops have been absolutely amazing in finding those who were responsible and keeping people aware of what was happening. Would this be true if we had less police protection than we have right now, which would certainly be the case if we can’t fund what we have currently?

    Yes, Ypsi could potentially be a less attractive place to live and do business if we have higher taxes. (Although it seems that we’ve recently had several businesses find that it was worth their while to open new places in town, in spite of the high taxes people have mentioned.) But what will it be like if we have less protection for police and fire, or if we go bankrupt or have an emergency manager, etc.? How much will your house be worth then? Who would want to move here? Personally, I’d rather pay some more now to avoid paying a whole lot more in the future. As the previously anti-income tax council members have concluded, we cannot cut our way out of this situation, no matter how much we’d like to believe that was possible.

  15. Edward
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    If the tax does not pass, it means that we’ll be assigned an Emergency Manager. As I understand it, we cannot avoid this fate with cuts, no matter how severe. Is this correct? And, if so, are the anti-tax folks saying that they’re OK with this?

  16. lorie thom
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    my two cents is this: We have an opportunity to pull together to fight for our city.
    This is the only plan that can work, it has the ability to keep our vital services strong and our city healthy for our future.
    No other ideas that have been considered will work in time to help our community out of its current financial woes.
    Our city has been very well managed. So much so that our city manager was hired away from us by the state to help other cities avoid an EM. Our city runs lean already, there is nothing else meaningful to cut. Cutting alone is not the solution, we need to increase revenue.

    We have been cutting for a decade, and are down to basic core services. I have a personal view that we have already cut police too far based on the month’s-long string of break-ins by high school kids (during school hours) last year. It took too long to solve and too long to get properly processed. just 3 more officers would have helped with processing juveniles in way where they could have remained in custody instead of being released to return to criminal activity right away. I

    The income tax will add at least 6000 more tax payers to our rolls. People need to vote YES on both, or the the plan wont work.

  17. lorie thom
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    sorry, I hit ‘post’ too early.

    I will be voting “yes” on both – like Kerri, I don’t like it but when I look at the money our household is paying compared to what we would have been paying 5 or 10 years ago, we are paying less in total and that seems fair to me given the services we get.

    In addition, if we owned this same house in Ann Arbor, we would be paying close to 3 times in taxes what we will be paying with the millage and income tax added in.

  18. lorie thom
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    and finally – I am wondering if Pete Murdock might outline the tax millages we pay currently and when they expire and what they are for. He did that somewhere else (possibly facebook) and I thought it was both informative and helpful to the conversation.

  19. Pete Murdock
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    @Lorie Thom – Is this post you meant?

    The Michigan Constitution limits Total General operation Millage for Home Rule Cities to 20 mils

    The City Charter, amended in 2010, allows a maximum of 19.0211 mils for general operating and City Council sets a rate every year when the budget is adopted.

    The City Charter, amended in 2010, also calls for .9789 mils for public transit which is used for AATA contract

    Those two millages together make up the 20 mil general operating millage and are subject to Headlee

    The City can also levy up to 3 mils for Sanitation. Its use is restricted to paying for trash, recycling and compost collection and processing. Because of the Headlee Amendment this millage has been reduced to 2.7814 and cannot be increased without a Headlee override vote of the people. This fund is subsidized by other funds to the tune of ~$300K.

    The Act 345 Fire and Police Pension Millage was established by a vote of the people and the rate is determined by what the actuaries determine is needed to fund the system each year. It is restricted to that use only. This is not a debt millage and also is not subject to Headlee.

    There are two Debt millages related to the street paving that were approved by a vote of the people. There is set payment schedule and the millage rate is determined annually to achieve the amount needed – depending on taxable value. It can be used for no other purpose. The Street millages in FY 2011-12 are 2.2346 and 2.3339. The last payment for the first will be in FY 2017 and the other in 2019. The debt millages are not subject to Headlee.

  20. Eel
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Pete, I’d also like to know why it was decided not to make this a temporary income tax, which would require going back to the voters at some point in the future for renewal. It seems as though that would be more palatable.

  21. Knox
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    For me, it all comes down to the Emergency Manager.

    Curt says the following:

    “If we get our house in order, there is no emergency manager. That’s not even up for debate. Ypsi has no need for one.”

    My vote hinges on this question.

    From what I’m told, this is not true. If the tax and millage don’t pass, according to people that I trust, the city will fail. If this is not the case, please speak up now and let me know.

  22. Curt Waugh
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    Some very important issues are going unanswered by the folks proposing this new tax. First, why will no one respond to the time-limit issue? I have asked several times in various threads over the weeks and I don’t recall anybody responding. Can SOMEONE please respond to the idea of a time-limited proposal and why it wasn’t offered?

    Second, what happens at the end of the five-year plan? What is THAT plan? Barring any true plan, I have zero trust that any good can come of this. As far as I can tell, the proponents of this proposal admit they don’t know what to do in five years. To reiterate: Hoping for the best does not constitute a plan.

    Third, Mayor Schreiber, thank you for your response but you just laid bare the fact that the city made absurd, ridiculous pension deals that now can’t be undone. (Not a single person I know in the professional world has a pension, by the way.) How many of these stories do we have to hear before everybody finally realizes that the city government is not to be trusted with our money? I am baffled by the unearned connection people are making between “I want to help Ypsi” and “I want to give the city government more money”. History shows us in no uncertain terms that these two things have nothing to do with each other.

    Last, will there be any public debate of any sort on this issue? I say again: I will debate anybody any time in any place. I will be respectful and stick to the facts only. I am concerned that we simply aren’t hearing enough voices here and I’m wondering if anybody on either side is trying to bring in a wider audience prior to this vote. (I suspect each side is deathly afraid of a larger voter turnout because they don’t trust the strength of their own position and perhaps fear their own belligerence in a public forum because of historical animosity between the individual players.)

  23. Andy C
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    I would love to hear from the four city council members who were against the city income tax last time and are for it now. Most of the same arguments as before are being made on both sides. What has changed?

    Great conversation by the way. Ten times better than what’s happening on Facebook.

  24. Dan
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Lorie, your numbers re: AA’s taxes are wrong. You say this:

    “In addition, if we owned this same house in Ann Arbor, we would be paying close to 3 times in taxes what we will be paying with the millage and income tax added in.”

    Let’s assume you have a house with market value in Ypsi of 100k (50K SEV). Also assume that your house would have twice the market value in AA (200K, or 100k SEV)

    Your taxes BEFORE the additional millages and income tax would be 3035 in Ypsi.

    The taxes in AA would be 4,588

    if you used the 30% increase being floated around for the after tax increases, you’d be at about $4000 in Ypsi.

    For your numbers to work (3 times as much tax in AA), you would have to assume that the market value of your house would quadruple if it were in AA, and that is BEFORE the new taxes are added

  25. Andy Cameron
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Can someone in city gov comment specifically on the pension issue? my understanding is that no regular city staff hired after a certain date (in 90s?) has a pension, but rather a 401k style plan. What about police and fire?

    It seems as though those on the anti-tax side would prefer to save money now by breaking the promises and contracts we made with our employees over the years, rather than meeting our obligations. Is this accurate?

    We can all think the pension costs are exorbitant, but it still comes down to whether you think we should meet our existing obligations, and whether you think it’s possible to vote NO on both proposals, meet our existing obligations, AND keep enough police and fire to keep public safety somewhere around the level we currently enjoy.

    Any pensioners who want to chime in on why you’re trying to destroy our city? ;)

  26. Andy Cameron
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    Incidentally, I also wonder why there wasn’t an expiration on the income tax proposal. I think that would have made it a lot easier to pass, but I don’t know the details for why the decision was made one way or the other. Mayor/Council?

  27. Glen S.
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    @ Knox

    A quick look at the City’s five-year plan makes it pretty clear that, without a significant source of new revenue — or massive cuts to core services — our current budget trajectory is unsustainable:

    Assuming current staffing levels for Police and Fire – and no new source of tax revenue — Ypsilanti’s budget deficit is projected to look like this in each of the next five years:

    FY 2013: $ 908,252
    FY 2014: $1,757,174
    FY 2015: $2,655,684
    FY 2016: $3,604,234
    FY 2017: $4,433,095

    To put this in perspective, by 2017, we would have a budget deficit that represents approximately 30% of our total projected General Fund budget of approximately $15 million.

    Since Police and Fire make up the great majority of the General Fund budget, at that point — even if we were to eliminate all administrative positions (in effect, “closing” City Hall) — we would still not have enough left over to maintain current Police and Fire staffing levels. And, since under Michigan law, cities are required to provide a clerk, and someone to register deeds, to supervise elections, etc. — Police and Fire cuts would be even worse.

    So … I don’t think anybody is claiming that if these measures are defeated on May 8, we will *immediately* have an Emergency Manager. What we ARE saying is that right now Ypsilanti faces three possible scenarios:

    Scenario #1) The May 8 tax measures fail, and we decide to begin cutting: In this case, we would quickly (as soon as FY 2013) be forced to begin making significant cuts to City Hall staff, as well as core (Police and Fire) services — and these cuts would need to become progressively deeper in each successive year in order to keep the City’s budget balanced.

    #2) The May 8 tax measures fail, and we decide to do nothing: In this scenario, we could simply bury our heads in the sand, and continue with current staffing levels (but no additional revenue) until at some point, a fiscal crisis would inevitably occur (probably within 2-3 years) — and the clock would begin ticking toward State intervention, and ultimately, an Emergency Manager.

    #3) The May 8 tax measures pass: Under this scenario, Ypsilanti residents (and non-residents who work here) would see a modest tax increase; we would broaden our tax base by adding 6,000 new people to the tax rolls; the Water Street millage would free up existing General Fund dollars to pay for core services; and City services — including Police and Fire — would continue at current levels.

    In short, by passing both measures on May 8, we would put all this budget drama to rest for at least the foreseeable future — providing a degree of stability and predictability to existing homeowners and business owners — and allowing us to focus on attracting new residents and businesses to Ypsilanti, working to develop the Water Street property, etc.

  28. Posted April 9, 2012 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Regarding a Permanent vs. Temporary City Income Tax:

    The reduction in property values from 2012 to 2017 made it clear to the current city council that a permanent city income tax was needed as an additional long-term revenue source. Nobody likes higher taxes, but city council didn’t see any other way to provide the current level of public safety and support services for the long-term. If property values start to stabilize or increase, then property tax revenues can increase only by the rate of inflation or 5%, whichever is lower.

    The city income tax is part of a five-year plan to provide financial stability and preserved public safety and support services for now and years to come.

    Paul Schreiber

  29. Anonymous
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    So, are you saying that, even if Water Street was completely developed over the course of the next five years, that we still wouldn’t have a balanced budget, without the income tax?

  30. Dan
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    The problem is that with such outrageous taxes, no one will ever invest in developing Water Street. No one will do it now, without the income tax. There’s plenty of land in the surrounding communities to develop. It’s a competitive disadvantage to Ypsi to have such high taxes. For prospective residents as well. Realtors specifically warn new home buyers about the taxes in ypsi.

    It’s a perpetual problem. Prop taxes fall, so you need more revenue. You attempt to get that by putting in an income tax. So when people leave for surrounding communities, and businesses as well, prop tax revenue will continue to fall, as will income tax revenue.

    Then you’ll all be asked to fork over more money. lather/rinse/repeat. It’s a horrible business model.

  31. Curt Waugh
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Mayor Schreiber, I know you’re all trying very hard to do the right thing here, but I’m just not OK with what you’re saying here. This:

    – “…a permanent city income tax was needed as an additional long-term revenue source.”

    does not play well with:

    – “The city income tax is part of a five-year plan…”

    No, it’s not. It’s a permanent tax and not a multi-year plan and not a solution. It’s a reckless wholesale change in Ypsi’s tax revenue stream which sets us completely apart from our neighbors on all sides. The implication of this radical change in our tax base is probably the main point of your proposal and yet you have been silent on this issue. We have heard “5-year plan” ad nauseam while I think this fact has been skillfully buried.

    The city’s hand will be out again in 5 years, won’t it? What then? What is the most likely scenario at that point? It’s default anyway, isn’t it?

  32. lorie thom
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Dan – i agree that its all in the calculation. I asked a friend who is a real estate agent about what the value of our property would be and a guess at taxes in Ann Arbor. I was repeating that assessment. It depends on which neighborhood. I get that take it for what its worth. I clicked with me. We paid a similar amount in taxes to what we are paying now in a roughly 1000ft of a condo so I didn’t question it.

    I appreciate the correction, I still think we are getting quite the deal living here and adding in the income tax and millage. My concern, the thing I can’t get comfortable with and the thing that will push me to pay is the crime rate. We got cased again last weekend. I can’t stand that people are so predatory here. We have too many thefts and break-ins and our police are clearly overloaded. We need more of them not less.

  33. Posted April 9, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Curt, I appreciate your arguments: “The city’s hand will be out again in 5 years, won’t it? What then? What is the most likely scenario at that point? It’s default anyway, isn’t it?”

    The city has four main revenue sources:
    Property tax rates are at the state constitutional limit of 20 mills for the general fund and can’t be raised.
    State revenue sharing has been cut from $4 million in 2001 to $2 million now and is projected to go down to $1.2 million in 2017.
    By law, fees for services are set so that the city can only break even at best, and a city income tax.
    The city income tax is the only major new revenue stream left to compensate for declining property values and property tax revenue.

    It’s not easy to ask people to raise their taxes. There’s no question that raising taxes will be a negative factor in the decision to live or work in the city of Ypsilanti. But I believe that the alternatives of cutting public safety and support services or an emergency manager are even more negative.

    Paul Schreiber

  34. Pete Murdock
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    Why not a temporary City Income Tax Because it’s not temporary and it would be dishonest to propose it as such as was done last time. The services that it is intended to pay for don’t “expire” at the end of five years. The Water Street Debt millage is temporary and restricted solely to the servicing the Water Street debt.

    Having said that future City Councils have the option every year of lowering some millage rates, the City income tax percentage or personal exemption amount in response to any unpredicted increases in revenues or reductions in expenditures.

    The Five year plan stabilizes the revenue stream to 2017 and beyond and removes the Water Street Debt from sucking resources out of service delivery. The Street Paving millage expires in 2017 and 2019 and the Water Street Debt in 2031.

  35. Jim
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    On the city’s five year plan, should “pension…employer contribution” read “pension…employee contribution”? In the two places this item appears it adds to revenue or decreases the deficit.

    I’d also like to hear an explanation why property tax revenue is expected to continue to decline significantly between FY 2012 and FY 2017.

  36. dirtgrain
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    Curt wrote: “. . . the city made absurd, ridiculous pension deals that now can’t be undone. (Not a single person I know in the professional world has a pension, by the way.)”

    Curt, I would take you more seriously if you would forgo the hyperbole.

    Curt wrote: “How many of these stories do we have to hear before everybody finally realizes that the city government is not to be trusted with our money?”

    You seem to imply that the Ypsilanti government went rogue years ago when it offered pensions. It was common practice with police and fire everywhere, wasn’t it (in cities, anyway)? Didn’t they have to offer competitive compensation? Hasn’t the notion been that we rewarded high-risk jobs with pensions? It wasn’t absurd.

    Perspective would help. The Bush/Obama tax cuts for the wealthy have been part of an extended starve-the-beast attack on us. Snyder has taken it a step farther in Michigan. And the bastards in Washington did not fix the problem of run-away healthcare costs. Those things are absurd.

    Curt wrote: “I am baffled by the unearned connection people are making between ‘I want to help Ypsi’ and ‘I want to give the city government more money’. History shows us in no uncertain terms that these two things have nothing to do with each other.”

    Again, hyperbole. And what does history show us? That cities thrive when they collect no taxes? Is there some inverse relationship between the quality of life in a city and the amount of its taxes? If you could prove that, I’d listen. But what I know of history hasn’t shown me that.

  37. Pocket Beaver
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    I don’t necessarily share Curt’s lack of faith in the City Government, but I’m otherwise finding his comments really resonating with me, especially about how this tax will set us apart from all of the communities surrounding us. Every year when I do my state taxes I look at that list of cities with an income tax and think “glad I don’t live or work in one of these.” For the most part, they are all struggling, failing cities. I don’t want Ypsilanti to have that stigma. It’s embarrassing to have an income tax and even though I think most republicans overstate the reluctance of businesses to move to places with high taxes, I’d think an income tax would really stand out. Yeah, having crumbling infrastructure and a high crime-rate is a real deterrent to business and residents too, but I’m just not convinced yet that’s going to happen.

    I also agree with Curt that the SCIT brochures and website are childish and insulting. For the most part, I think the City Council has done what they think was right, INCLUDING asking for this tax because of the looming budget shortfalls. I really don’t care who fucked up the Water Street thing and characterizing concerned council members in a buffoonish way is distasteful.

    I’m generally a real tax-and-spend liberal but this CIT is just seems like too much. For me it’s not so much about the money as it is about adding an ugly, last-ditch, permanent tax on a city that feels like it’s really gaining some energy as Ann Arbor gets more cookie-cutter corporate. I still might be convinced otherwise, though, so I’m going to keep an eye on this thread!

  38. Tommy
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    If more revenue does not come in, the city dies a long, slow, visible death. More people will leave. It becomes just another rust belt obituary. Cities that die don’t rise from the ashes, they turn in to Flint, Pontiac, Detroit. Ypsi has a chance to fight back. If people do not see the writing on the wall in terms of paying for services that will keep it functioning, so be it. Look at the FY budget numbers above; they say everything you need to know. This is not a joke, or a numbers game, or a scare tactic by city leadership. Live to fight another day, keep fighting, get some business moving back in, and you have a chance. Good luck – I hope the city remains viable. The timing could not be worse.

  39. Mr. X
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Someone asked above if members of City Council who were previously opposed to the tax could now share with us why they’ve changed their minds. Well, I just saw the following on Facebook from Pete Murdock, and thought that it might fit the bill.

    Just stop your BS about the City saying no to Aldi’s. And that the City is “loathe for any commercial development on this property” A developer was interested in a site on Michigan with Aldi’s being the tenant. Aldi’s backed out when they put a hold on further investment in Michigan. When that fell through I did talk to Corinne at the Food Co-op to see if they would be interested in working with the developer to replace Aldi’s. Nothing came of this. THIS CITY COUNCIL as you well know, opened the possibilities at Water Street by marketing the property in parcels not just full site proposals and by casting a wider net by entertaining proposals of other uses than the original plan. We also tabled a rezoning that would have restricted us to singular “vision.”

    I was not a supporter of the Water Street Project aka Farmer’s Folly nor were most of the current city council members. We are trying to deal with a mess that we inherited. There are no do-overs here. No rabbits to pull out of the hat. I AM a supporter of the Water Street Millage and Five Year Plan because I refuse to let a gross mistake by others that we can not magically make go away transform into the death knell for our community.

    The fact is we are going to pay this debt one way or another – through drastic reductions in service or a debt retirement millage either voted or imposed by a court if we default. That is the choice.

    That being said, a little recent history. Shortly after I was elected to City Council in 2008 Council took several actions re: Water Street.

    1. Stopped borrowing anymore money for the project.
    2. Made the site more marketable by successfully pursuing grants (over $1M) for clearing of the property and environmental remediation.
    3. Opened up the process to allow the site to be marketed in smaller parcels not just as a singular project.
    4. Opened up the process to allow for consideration of an array of uses instead of the rigid singular concept that was in existence at the time.
    5. Tabled a zoning proposal that would have limited the possibilities of development to a singular “vision.”
    6. Hired a commercial real estate firm to market the property and to complete a market analysis.
    7. Pursued developers that have had their projects turned down in Ann Arbor and elsewhere to see if they would be interested in Water Street.
    8. Completed some design and cost estimates for infrastructure (roads, water and sewer, utilities and storm water system.) necessary for development.
    9. Continued our partnership with the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission to develop the Border to Border Trail and public space along the River in the Water Street Property.

    To deny that the economic conditions in Michigan in 2008-12 were not impacting development potential is to deny reality. It was only recently that banks were offering money for commercial projects in Michigan. And even at that there are very high bars to hurdle to get approved.

    So here are the projects that have expressed a real interest over the past several years.

    Burger King – rejected by City Council after a public process with public hearings.

    A Project with an Aldi’s grocery store as the main (only) tenant – Aldi’s pulled out – putting a hold on any additional investment in Michigan.

    A Student Housing Project that has since decided that the site is not right for them

    Senior Housing – a MISHDA financed project that would not pay property taxes

    Low Income Housing – Subsidized housing that depending on how it is financed may pay taxes like Hamilton Crossing or may not

    The County Recreation Center

    The fact is that despite cries that this is valuable land – the market says differently. There has been little interest in this property.

    “Unloading” the property doesn’t necessarily eliminate the debt.

    Saying we haven’t done enough to “unload” the property but don’t like who is interested in it is doubletalk.

    It is what it is. And the interested parties are who they are.

    Are we more likely to attract developers with a City in decline or one that still believes in itself enough to maintain basic City services. Your Choice.

  40. Dan
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    @ dirtgrain “And what does history show us? That cities thrive when they collect no taxes?”

    The problem is just the taxation, it’s that there are several surrounding communities that offer much better “deals” on taxes. Honestly, why would a developer invest to build on Water Street, when there is land in Pittsfield and the township that doesnt have the same tax burden? On of the biggest community investors, the Maurers, have decided to stop investing in ypsi and said the taxes were so high they would drive any investors away.

    Thats the reality. Ypsi is in competition with the surrounding communities to attract families and businesses. Millage rates in the 70s and an income tax are a big deal when the surrounding areas have no income tax and millage rates in the 40s.

  41. Mr. X
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, Dirtgrain, for reminding is that there are larger forces at play here.

    “Perspective would help. The Bush/Obama tax cuts for the wealthy have been part of an extended starve-the-beast attack on us. Snyder has taken it a step farther in Michigan. And the bastards in Washington did not fix the problem of run-away healthcare costs. Those things are absurd.”

  42. Mr. X
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    It’s also worth pointing out that the Republicans, despite what they claim, really aren’t anti-tax. They’re just for shifting the tax burden to the poor and middle class.

  43. Mr. X
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    (cont.) as we’re seeing play out right now in Ypsilanti.

  44. Dan
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    should say “The problem is NOT just the taxation”

  45. Andy
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    I am concerned to hear that a permanent city income tax is needed for the City of Ypsilanti to provide services to its residents. If the tax doesn’t pass will it make it more likely the City will be forced to merge with the Township?

    I know the fighting between the City and the Township goes back decades, but it might be best for all the residents if the two communities merged. I haven’t decided wether or not I support the income tax proposal, but hearing this proposal is permanent concerns me.

    If by voting no it forced the 2 communities to join together and we were able to reduce our taxes, attract businesses, and provide services to the residents, I would have to consider the idea.

    I don’t believe we can have a successful community if we can not provide basic police and fire protection and blight takes over. No one will want to move or invest here. I also don’t see how we can market our community to new residents and businesses if they are charged additional taxes than the surrounding communities.

    Neither option sounds sustainable to me. I just hope the efforts of both the pro-tax side and the stop the income tax side bring a high voter turnout. This is a critical vote for the future of our community and it is important that as many people as possible voice their opinion.

  46. Dan
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Permalink


    The city can not be “forced” to merge with the township. The township residents would have to vote to approve that, and that has less than zero chance of happening.

    And I also believe that IF that were to happen, the tax burden from the city would not be spread out with the township. I believe the city residents would still be responsible for the water street debts, etc.

    as an aside, I don’t think there are very many people at all on either side, that wish to see the communities merge. The township and city have very difference landscapes, and philosophical differences. not just on taxation and government level, but on urban vs rural atmospheres.

  47. Curt Waugh
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    dirtgrain, I can’t even imagine what one finds NOT ridiculous about a $1.6 million payment that represent 11% of the city’s budget and is given to people who no longer provide any services to the city. These numbers are hyperbolic; my words are not.

    I don’t think the Ypsi government went rogue at all – your words, not mine (hyperbole, anyone?). I merely point out the fact that the government has a history of being a bad steward of our money. Whether it’s because our charter gives them too much leeway (allowing for them to become commercial property developers?) or whether it’s because past leaders were just bad negotiators in an unrestricted environment (11% of the budget in 2017?), something is broken and I really don’t want to keep paying for it.

    Not a single change in operating procedure has been proposed as a counter to this increased revenue. It’s just been, “Give us the money and we’ll do the right thing.” Why not marry this increase to firm controls on the very activities that got us into this mess? There’s no fix in this fix.

    You go on at length about national and state shenanigans that got us here and then propose that our tiny little burg fix all those problems by itself. I’m sorry, that doesn’t make any sense to me.

    Pete, thank you for chiming in, but “…not a temporary City Income Tax Because it’s not temporary…” isn’t much of an answer. Permanent or not, the question is about the citizenry’s right to choose its own path, not your limited knowledge of where we’ll be in five years. We should not sit here now dictating to the citizens of Ypsilanti in 2018 how they should do their finances. We should give them the opportunity to consider these issues for themselves – very much UNlike we are able to because of the permanence of Water Street and these pension payments. We have no choice. Why remove that choice from others? If this tax is such a great idea (it’s not) and if it passes this time, it will have no trouble passing again in five years.

  48. Andy C
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    I think there should be 10 true or false questions that voters need to get at least 8 correct in order to vote. Voting with out understanding what they’re actually voting on is dangerous.

  49. Glen S.
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    @ Curt

    You’re right — we can’t fix Michigan’s broken system for funding local governments on on own. We also can’t bring back our heavy industries. Or fix the state or national economy. Or stop the collapse in property values … And we certainly can’t go back in time to reconsider whether we (should have) committed to pension benefits for retires, or whether we (should have) taken on the Water Street debt.

    Hindsight is 20/20, they say … but the situation we are in is the situation we are in.

    At the end of the day, we’re a small community — really just neighbors, after all, and there is only so much time, money, attention and energy available to fight these battles year after year. The way I see it, we can either continue spending a lot time and energy focusing on blaming people for decisions that were made in the past — or we can figure out how to pay the bills, and keep trying to move forward.

    The Five-Year Budget Plan (including the two tax proposals) is far from perfect, and there are definitely some risks, but at this point, it is the *only* plan on the table. The clock is ticking … and we have to make a decision.

    So the question becomes: Do we want to continue focusing on the past — or do we want to try bring the community together, and focus on the future?

  50. Dan
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Permalink


    The thing you’re not realizing is, that by continuing down the same path and continuing to throw money at people that have no long term plan and have made poor decisions in the past, continues to compound the poor decisions of the past.

    A real world analogy would be someone asking for a raise in their hourly wage, even though the company is struggling, the worker has done nothing special to benefit the company and future projections on earnings are grim to weak at best. Why in the world would that “person” deserve to be paid more “per hour” and not even promise any better service? “Pay me more for the same level of effort” is not a viable economical model.

    and it’s a lot worse than the picture I painted in that analogy, actually. by raising these “wages”, the “company” becomes much less competitive. it makes no sense.

  51. j
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Permalink


    I agree it’s insane how much we pay for retiree’s pensions and health care. The boomers fucked us. Waterstreet is a disaster. Farmer’s Folly fucked us good too. Unfortunately, there’s not much we can do about that stuff. We have to play the hand we’re dealt. The staff and budget cut cards have been played. Income tax is all we have left. The vote yes people aren’t for this because they love paying taxes. They (and me as well) have come to conclusion that we really are that screwed. Honestly, I don’t think it will be enough. But maybe if we buy some time…? Thanks for voicing the No side. I really do wish we could have a real debate.

    I went to one of the council meetings about this back in September and haven’t been back since. Anyone know if Councilman Robb is still wearing his old “No” t shirt to meetings?

  52. j
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Permalink


    A majority of the council got elected because they were against the income tax. They are not the same people that made bad decisions in the past. They ran for council with every intention of finding any other solution. This is the best they could come up with. You can keep demanding some other generic solution, but this is the only one we got on the table. If you have a better idea we’re all ears.

  53. Andy Cameron
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    The NO position seems to be that they don’t like the source/nature of our debts, so they don’t want to pay them… And that somehow this will keep us solvent. I really don’t see how that makes any sense at all.

  54. FT
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    The NO group isn’t even that coherent, Andy. One of them is on the Spectrum and has a Kaczynski-esque mania for subterfuging anything community-minded (that isn’t a possible source of profit for himself; he’s even, according to some records, a tax-evader). One of them is Latter Dayglo and would like Sarah Palin to be president. Another is just a garden-variety Republican (businessman, ignorant, xenophobic).

    Myself, though I’m pissed at the idea of having to pay more tax to live in this town, I’ll vote yes on both. The reason being that when backed to a wall, I find it makes more sense to go with community effort (affirmative) than it is to retreat into isolation (negative).

    As for anyone who thinks it’s wrong we’re paying pensions to elderly firefighters: fuck you. I don’t know about you, but my daddy wasn’t a lawyer.

  55. j
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    We shouldn’t be paying pensions to elderly firefighters. The time to pay for that was when we made the agreement. Instead our greedy reaganite generation decided to leave that for their kids along with endless war and economic collapse. May they die alone at the shittiest nursing home Medicaid has to offer.

    I am aware this is both way off topic and painting with a mile wide brush. Probably best to ignore.

  56. Watching Laughing
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    I just got a Stop the income tax flyer in my mail box.
    I just wiped my ass with it, LOL.


  57. wetdolphinmissile
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    @j- I have been assured by Councilperson Pete Murdock that even if an EM comes in they cannot undo the pensions of our retired firefighters. So relax on our retired heroes account. It is the current heroes who will not realize the same benefits (right or wrong).
    @WL -not sure what you think i so s f*cking funny but I thought it was one of the best, the fyers…and by the way…on the city’s calculator our property taxes rise 28% under the proposed new taxes.

  58. Right Wing
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    The people who are opposed to an income tax are people with excess income. They have the money to send a four color postcard to everyone in town. They don’t want a debate because they can’t buy it.

    It’s really that simple.

    Go to 309 Oak Street. One of the addresses proudly paying for the anti-tax media blitz. Knock on their door. Ask them their income. Get an answer. Ask them how much they pay in property taxes. Get an answer.

    The only issue here is the same one played out across the country. Our local gentry don’t want to pay their fair share. They’d rather lie and buy stock photography elections.

    They are bad neighbors.

  59. Right Wing
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

    “I do not trust any of you” = bad neighbor.

  60. Pay Cuts
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

    What are the difficulties in imposing a 30-50% pay cut on everyone in our police and fire departments – understanding that some will walk and be replaced by younger and less experienced folk. I have this same question about the teachers in our schools actually. Why do we talk about staffing cuts instead of police and teachers starting at 20K or whatever?

    I mean the difficulties in the government actually doing it, not the moral difficulties or potential side effects on quality of services.

  61. Right Wing
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 12:27 am | Permalink

    Pocket Beaver,

    An income tax is, indeed, the death knell for a creative city .

    Ypsi will still be Ypsi. EMU will finally pay something. They won’t leave town. They’ll contribute. We’ll still be the coolest place in five counties. Still have parks. Still have cool old shit. All kinds of people. Restaurants selling kegs of beer. Skateboard hipsters on foggy scooters. Hip hop hoodies rolling math sheets. Old ladies weaving pitbulls in parkside gardens. Kids dancing to American Pie and throwing flies off the river tridge. Preachers, bleachers, blow torch bitches and guys feigning carp scars and scratching. Backyard BBQs with tattooed fundamentalists mixing drinks with failed venture capitalists. Weeping, screeching, revving markets dripping with sugared tears of Superman in cones. Secret meetings. Illegal chickens. Worship in four parts. Harmony. Vets of fire and wetness. Candy and cigarettes. Sweet licks and broken sticks. Green living life of solar bread loving backseat gumbo. Ypsi will be Ypsi. A few black tophats will grasp and gripe. Let them eat stripe.

    An income tax isn’t a stigma. New York City has an income tax. Glendive Montana does not. Republican loving, pragmatic Grand Rapids has an income tax (2nd highest in the state). Bay City (12% unemployed) does not.

    Fuckit stigma. Do what’s right for us. No place like us. Unless you’re six digits of income and fuck everyone else, the math is easy.

    Break down: if you have lots of money but no soul or brain and despise your neighbors, you should vote against the income tax.

    If you have a lot of brain and soul, but not much money, you should vote for it.

    If you have a sliver of soul or brain and are of moderate income, well, this vote will probably decide every election you vote for after this.

    Keep Ypsi Ypsi.

  62. Glen S.
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    On May 8, Ypsilanti voters are being asked to make one of the most important decisions in the City’s history, and the folks on the “No” side of this issue continue to refuse to debate the issue publicly — apparently because of a “typo” in the invitation to do so.

    This would be funny if it weren’t so damn sad.

  63. Ypsi Lover
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    Curt, You are my hero. Please run for office.

  64. Pierce Maurer
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    Dear Governor Snyder,

    Like you, We at SCITZO are Republican, don’t like the lower classes, and are landlords. We believe You, I mean, the Mackinac Center, that GOD hates taxes, and to sacrifice anything for our community would be a SCIN.

    That is why WHEN YOU COME to our little burgh, we will be waiting for you, souls AKIMBO, because if ARDESTA doesnt rhime with MOLESTA, we dont know what does!!!!!

    WE LOVE you, Brick Rick! Help us make YPSI into a Birmingham!!!!

    O plus can we discus profit sharing………………

  65. Kjc
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    Damn. Retired firefighters ruin everything.

  66. TaxNoMore
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    I’m tired of this SHIT – Supporters of Higher Income Taxes.

  67. Curt Waugh
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Folks, Steve Pierce and his ilk speak for no one except themselves. They were self-appointed, not chosen:

    Pete is picking on Steve precisely because he’s such a poor representative of the issue. It’s a pure political maneuver that has no place in this serious issue. I have offered twice to debate this issue in any forum. I guess because I don’t send out fliers or drive a Segue, I’m not entitled to a serious voice here, but the offer still stands.

    Early in this thread, lots of facts and positions were discussed openly. As we get lower down the thread, things are getting uglier. I’m hoping that’s just because all of the reasonable voices have had their say and folks are just getting jittery out of fear. What I really hope is that this doesn’t represent any sort of popular thought among the tax increase crowd:

    “Break down: if you have lots of money but no soul or brain and despise your neighbors, you should vote against the income tax.
    If you have a lot of brain and soul, but not much money, you should vote for it.”

    I’m not sure what this person thought they were adding to the discussion. I’m fairly certain I still have a soul and a brain and stuff, thank you very much. I adore my neighbors, too. Sorry to mess up your narrative, but I thought I should point that out.

    I suspect you got hung up on this statement: “I do not trust any of you.” That was in the context of “I do not trust any of you when you hold government office,” as you appear to have missed it. That’s just a pragmatic statement about elected officials and large pools of money and nothing more. Skepticism is a crucial part of successful governance. Don’t take it personally.

  68. Pro Ypsi
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Curt I think the issue here is that you don’t represent the campaign. The registered, legal campaign. The one for whom Steve Pierce is the treasurer (and far and away the most outspoken member). So no it’s not a purely political maneuver at all. If I’m wrong about this and you do represent the campaign, then I’ll bet the Save Ypsi Yes Campaign would be more than happy to have a live debate with you. If not, then quit distracting from the issue.

  69. Love, Ypsi
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Curt, you are my hero. Please don’t stop. You are not clouding any issue, in fact, I would vote for you if you ran for office. This city should be run by citizens like you and not by “camps”.

  70. maryd
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Nice debate Mark…@ Pro Ypsi-Curt is doing a fine job of debating you. And many people represent the campaign in Ypsi not just a few organizers. @Mr. Right Winger (AKA hate Monger)-Oh yes please do come and talk to me at our door, Mr. Right Wing, for you especially, we have an open door invite to our home and family…you know, that place on Oak where we make so very much money and we are so f**king selfish we want to keep it all to ourselves like greedy bastards, isn’t that what you said eh? If I have not made it to your door yet, please do come and share with me how much I hate my neighbors…and maybe while you are at it Mr. Right Wing Hater, why don’t you speak to some of our neighbors too? They can all share just how “hateful” we are. Nice…

  71. Dan
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    I’ll say it again. Curt is destroying the others in this debate.

  72. maryd
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    and yes, thank you Curt, Love Ypsi agreed :)

  73. Love, Ypsi
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    Curt should debate an elected official who changed their mind. How about Robb or Murdoch?

  74. Love, Ypsi
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    Glen S. you were for Water Street, correct? And now you are for the income tax, correct?

  75. Ypsiosaurus Wrecks
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Curt: I appreciate the thougthful and articulate way you address this issue. I would support you if you ever ran for council.

    It’s unfortunate that any of the current council members are willing to have an actual debate. I’m sure Schreiber & Co. are fearful their specious arguments will be exposed.

    I will certainly be voting “No”. Let the public safety folks take a haircut. I’ve already gotten mine.

  76. Pro Ypsi
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 11:42 am | Permalink


    That doesn’t even make sense. It is the Mayor and City Council who want to have the debate. It is the SCIT crew that cannot debate the matter because their campaign is not based in fact, it is based in emotion.

    And we’re not talking about public safety getting a haircut here. That has already happened. Now we’re talking about going beyond what is safe or acceptable for our city. Your no vote will be a vote against our city.

  77. Curt Waugh
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    Pro Ypsi: This “campaign” doesn’t belong to SCIT. It belongs to me and you and my neighbors, etc. It clouds no issue to throw my hat into the ring as no one else volunteered to do so. Since when is democracy the province of the registered few? The distraction here is a small group of people’s obsession with Steve. Let it go; we have bigger issues here, eh?

  78. Pro Ypsi
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    Again you cloud the point. I wasn’t saying you shouldn’t argue but you single out Pete for singling out Steve. Steve, outside of this thread, has been the noisiest voice against the issues. He is also one of the group of people managing SCIT. So it only makes sense for Pete to direct his responses to the person who made the comments. Likewise, it was appropriate for SYY to invite SCIT to debate.

  79. anonymous
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    MaryD, I’m trying to make sense of your nonsense. Could you help me out? You mention that Curt is defeating Mark in the debate. You do know that Mark isn’t debating, right? Also, if I’m reading you correctly, you seem to be under the impression that Curt is the only one from the anti-tax side who has been allowed to voice his opinions here. That, I’m pretty sure, is not the case. If Steve, Rodney, the Maurers, or anyone else behind the anti-movement wanted to participate, they could. You might want to call DTE and see if there’s a gas leak in your home.

  80. anonymous
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    The gas leak must be spreading.

    Ypsisaurus Wrecks, did you just say, “It’s unfortunate that any of the current council members are willing to have an actual debate. I’m sure Schreiber & Co. are fearful their specious arguments will be exposed”? You do know that the Mayor and Councilman Murdock are both supportive of an debate, right? It’s the OTHER side that’s avoiding it.

    Damn, this is weird.

  81. Knox
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    I’d like to thank Curt for having the courage to discuss this in the light of day, when so many others seem unable to. It’s a testament to his character. I wish, for the sake of our community, that he had enough to share with the people behind the scenes, financing the SCIT campaign, anonymously lobbing insults, and finding silly excuses to avoid debate.

    I think that the anti-tax side will win come May 8. They’ll win because people are financially insecure, and unwilling to contribute more. The SCIT team, however, will feel that they won because they were shrewd political masterminds, and that’s what really bothers me. They’ll have proof that this is the way to win elections in Ypsilanti. This whole thing could have been handled with grace and dignity. Instead, we have this.

  82. Glen S.
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    I will say it again: The May 8 election may be the most important ever in Ypsilanti’s history. What’s at stake is whether we will have a clean, safe community that is attractive to new residents and businesses — or whether we begin (and then quickly accelerate) cuts to core City services, including Police and Fire, that will make our City more dangerous, and less desirable.

    Those aren’t “scare tactics” — this is simple accounting. Revenue *must* equal expenses. Unless the City has enough tax revenue to continue paying for these things, something will have to give.

    There is no easy answer; no magic formula; no silver bullet. If there were, the “No” folks would be asking the “Yes” campaign to debate!

    So, if the “No” folks want to continue to deny the magnitude of the budget problem — or even that a problem exists, so be it.

    If they want to continue spending their time focusing on past decisions, and looking for scapegoats, so be it.

    If they want to hide in the shadows, and refuse to engage in an open, public debate about these important issues, so be it.

    In the mean time, those of us who plan to vote “Yes” on May 8 are going to continue doing what we always do — focusing on the future, staying positive, identifying solutions — and working together with our neighbors to keep moving Ypsilanti forward.

  83. Emma
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Will some pro-tax person please debate Curt? I believe he is speaking for the majority of city residents. I’ve been a huge advocate for people moving to the City of Ypsilanti for nearly 20 years. If these taxes pass, that will end. I will cut my losses and leave. It’s just not worth that much money to live here.
    P.S. Has anyone considered finding a realtor who will actively market Water Street? Has the city considered helping their cause by prominently displaying the fact that it’s for sale on their website? Have they offered ANY incentive to anyone to purchase that property? Who owns the surrounding areas? Have they ever tried to have that property cleaned up? It’s like a giant trash dump all along the broken glass path west of S. Grove. Is anyone even trying?

  84. LAKE
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    You go, Curt. I think you’ve made some excellent points. It’s definitely not true that all of those who are leaning toward “no” are wealthy and do not want to share. That’s not true for me. I make $36-38K single, professional income. I work a community oriented job BECAUSE I want to share. In many cases, the folks who are voting “yes” are from nicely paid professional fields and I know a lot of you live in the nicer city neighborhoods such as Normal Park, College Heights, and Depot Town.

    I’m not a Republican. I’m a leftto a large degree–way more than right, and I voted for Obama–and will again. Do I qualify to vote “no”?

  85. akronymn (Adam G)
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    The two proposals on the ballot will ensure that our city continues to have the Public Service it needs. Curt and others taking up the no stance are willing to trivialize this. I am not. The budget for Police and Fire protection is covered up until now. Into the future it is not. Without the passage of these two measures we will see a decline in public safety. The thing about this is that a decline in public safety isn’t some abstract concept. It very definitely means a rise in crime. A rise in crime very definitely means a decline in new residents and business. Higher crime coupled with population loss and less economic activity means less revenue for the city. Further loss of revenue very definitely means even further cuts to public safety. And that is how the downward spiral begins. This is not fear mongering, this is not idle rhetoric. This is a very real and serious situation we find ourselves in, requiring serious action.

    As for Water Street, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this has absolutely nothing to do with your view on the original purchase, the management of the property up til now, the people who organized the original purpose or anything that lead to the situation we are in now. This ballot is all about paying the bill we have now. This is a debt that the city has to pay, there is no alternative. If we don’t pass these measures then the city must tap into the general fund to cover the WS payments. That fund will rapidly deplete at which point we will have to make cuts to other parts of the budget. As has been demonstrated, the only place to make cuts now is to Public Safety. Again, the arguments for cuts to Public Safety are strong. The arguments for the sort of cuts that the WS payment would require are overwhelming.

    Yes the efforts to sell/lease the WS property should continue, possibly even be ramped up. I suspect as a result of this debate there are some great ideas about this beginning to take form. That doesn’t change the fact that both of these proposals need to pass on May 8 for our city to be successful in the long run.

    There has been much nastiness on both sides of this debate. Some of the voices from both sides have taken a nasty turn at times. This is a serious crossroads we are at and it is a show of love for our city that there is so much emotion behind this debate. But when you boil away all the emotion and rhetoric there is a stark reality that our city is in serious financial trouble. On May 8th we will have the opportunity to vote for a plan that will bring about a solution to the financial quagmire we find ourselves in and set us solidly on the path to success.

    On May 8th, voting yes on both proposals will be voting yes for Ypsilanti’s future.

  86. Tommy
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Wow – this issue, once decided in 4 weeks is going to damage this community. Most people in Ypsi are not wealthy. Most are trying to make ends meet, Most are tapped out financially. Emma will not be the only one who picks up and leaves. Those who stay will be either burdened by higher taxes and live to fight another day or face a city soon to be in default . Both sides of this issue see different paths forward, but Ypsi will survive. It just might not be the Ypsi we all have grown to love over the years.

  87. Mr. Y
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    Did anyone answer this question?

    On the city’s five year plan, should “pension…employer contribution” read “pension…employee contribution”? In the two places this item appears it adds to revenue or decreases the deficit.

    I’d also like to hear an explanation why property tax revenue is expected to continue to decline significantly between FY 2012 and FY 2017.

    I recognize that an income tax may be the city’s best option, but I would like to get some answers to these basic questions. In the first case, I find it disturbing that the 5 year plan contains what appears to be an obvious error. As to my second question, I think that there needs to be a public explanation of the city’s projections.

  88. maryd
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    @ anonymous: I was expressing my disgust with the hate mongering, mob mentality comments of Right Wing. I did not think Mark was debating, I commented on the “nice” debate he was hosting. I meant Curt was doing a fine job of presenting anti-tax arguments. I am not under any impression that Curt is the only one allowed to express an opinion either way. The only leak at my house is out of my bank account, 27% increase according to the City’s calculator.

  89. Posted April 10, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    The pension “employer contribution” is the police and fire property pension tax millage. The city — the employer — pays it through the millage revenues. The employees pay a percentage of their income into the pension fund, but that doesn’t show up in the general fund revenues/expenditures that also provide police and fire protection. To be clear, the pension revenues are payed into the pension fund only.

    The five-year property tax revenue is the city’s best guess for estimating revenue in the future. I hope that it is pessimistic.

    Paul Schreiber

  90. beerslinger
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    The property tax millage as written / voted on by the city council should not be passed as written. It is the equivalent of handing the city a blank check. How can you vote to give the city money, when the city admits they don’t know how much they will need each year?

    The income tax proposal has more potential, but not in its current form. As an employee who makes most of my income from tips, I already owe the state money every tax year. Without a corresponding increase in wages, people are going to be driven from the service industry in droves, causing many Ypsilanti businesses to move just over the line into the townships, as many have already done.

  91. Mike Bodary
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    Mr Y
    City Management gets projections on expected property tax revenues from an organization called SEMCOG (South-east Michigan Council of Governments. It is useful because they project for city specificic entities. So although Washtenaw county levels off in a year or so and Ann Arbor is rising, Ypsilanti is expected to show -8 (actual) in 2012, then -3, -3, -3, -3 for the following years. As guesses go they are as good as any we can find. They did not show how bad it actually ended up being in 2009 and 10 though. Outside downturns can affect us negatively but on the positive side recovery can be slowed by restrictions from Proposal A.

  92. LAKE
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    Why doesn’t this City have enough $ to pay for a police force? I don’t get this at all. Where has all the money gone that doesn’t leave enough for police? Those responsible for the reasons the money isn’t there for the police (today, not in the future doom of after this tax is not passed) should apologize publicly and tax their paychecks, not the small businesses and minimum wage workers of this City.

  93. Posted April 10, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    As has been posted elsewhere, 22 cities in MI have an income tax, it’s not just Detroit, Flint, and Saginaw.
    The higher tax burdens can create incentives for people to locate
    and find jobs in cities or townships that do not levy a local income tax. It also creates incentives for corporations to locate in cities without city income taxes.
    This has not been a universal experience for Michigan’s 22 cities that levy this tax. While some of the cities have experienced abandonment before and after imposition of an income tax, other cities have grown and used the income tax revenues to enhance city services and improve their communities.

  94. Andy Cameron
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    Oops, link didn’t link.

  95. Andy Cameron
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    I am having difficulties here… :)

    Let’s try this one.

  96. Glen S.
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    The May 8 election may be the most important ever in Ypsilanti’s history. What’s at stake is whether we will have a clean, safe community that is attractive to new residents and businesses — or whether we begin (and then quickly accelerate) cuts to core City services, including Police and Fire, that will make our City more dangerous, and less desirable.

    Those aren’t “scare tactics” — this is simple accounting. Revenue *must* equal expenses. Unless the City has enough tax revenue to continue paying for these things, something will have to give.

    There is no easy answer; no magic formula; no silver bullet. If there were, the “No” folks would be asking the “Yes” campaign to debate!

    So, if the “No” folks want to continue to deny the magnitude of the budget problem — or even that a problem exists, so be it.

    If they want to continue spending their time focusing on past decisions, and looking for scapegoats, so be it.

    If they want to hide in the shadows, and refuse to engage in an open, public debate about these important issues, so be it.

    In the mean time, those of us who plan to vote “Yes” on May 8 are going to continue doing what we always do — focusing on the future, staying positive, identifying solutions — and working together with our neighbors to keep moving Ypsilanti forward.

  97. Jim
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    Mayor Schreiber,

    Thank you for your response. I also hope that estimated decrease in property tax revenues is pessimistic.

    If the “employer contribution” is the amount generated from the P&F pension millage, why does the “required” contribution remain constant from 2012 to 2017 while the “annual increase” increases sharply?

  98. Posted April 10, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Permalink


    The “required” contribution is the baseline contribution at 2012 for the purposes of illustrating how fast the F&P pension contributions increase annually from 2012 to 2017. The pension contributions are transferred into the general fund and then transferred out to the pension plan.

    Paul Schreiber

  99. Right Wing
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    maryd @ 309 Oak St.

    The postcard you managed to scrimp and save from your everyday budget to send out, with a black boot stomping on a home, is a violent image.

    You even decided to put an ant sized person under the boot, implying murder.

    Ypsi city council is about to crush homes and kill people.

    You’ve gone a bit psychotic in your passion to protect your income.

    Dial it down. Debate.

    Here’s a start: What’s your household income? What’s your taxes? Let’s go from there.

  100. j
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

    in re: 309 Oak St.

    Mary must be one of like 5 people who hasn’t seen a property tax decrease in the past 5 years. Mary, what the hell did you do to piss off the assessor?

    FYI, tax info and property records are public:

  101. dragon
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

    Ypsi Lover
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    Curt, You are my hero. Please run for office.

    Love, Ypsi
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Curt, you are my hero. Please don’t stop. You are not clouding any issue, in fact, I would vote for you if you ran for office. This city should be run by citizens like you and not by “camps”.

    If Curt Waugh had a son, he would look like Ypsi Lover.

  102. duh!
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    Wake up people! If you haven’t noticed its tax season! How much do you”OWE” to pay for addicts who wont work? DID YOU EVER ASK WHY YOU “OWE” THEM??? Do you love giving your money away?!?!! Get REAL! More TAX equals politicians taking your money to BUY VOTES! More tax equal more waste! Who WANTS an INCOME TAX???


    If you want honest hardworking NEIGHBORS to put up FOR SALE signs than vote for the tax. This TAX will make WORKING MEN leave. A VOTE NO IS A VOTE TO GET THE LEECHING SCUM OUT OF TOWN!


  103. Edward
    Posted April 11, 2012 at 5:48 am | Permalink

    And who needs police, anyway? Like the people of Florida and Arizona, we could always call on armed groups of neo-Nazis to patrol our streets.

  104. maryd
    Posted April 11, 2012 at 5:55 am | Permalink

    @RightWing: In the postcard, you see me and mine being crushed by the high tax burden imposed on the citizens of Ypsilanti. 1st you accuse me of sniffing gas, now I am psychotically violent. All this violence from little ol’ me. And Rightwing…do not worry your little head about me having to scrimp and save, because checks are pouring in from all over the city… little bitty ones and bigger ones from people who agree with me, that our taxes are too high. My family’s income? Come knock on my door and we will talk. If you are lucky my hubby will answer and not me :)

  105. Ypsi Lover
    Posted April 11, 2012 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    @Dragon: we have 2 sons and they probably don’t look like Mr. Waugh as I have never met him.

  106. jcdelcamp
    Posted April 11, 2012 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    I drive through Detroit almost every day. Every where I see vacant buildings and burned out houses and empty-trash strewn lots. I doubt very much that city income taxes in Detroit helped prevent this from happening. Yes, I can probably adsorb the new taxes and survive o. k. But I can’t say the same for many of my neighbors. We, as the middle class, find our pocket books to be the target of intense picking by many, often greedy hands that demand more and more. Our money becomes worth less every day. This massive tax proposal is just more of the same assault. I am not willing to risk the collapse of my beloved neighborhood on a plan wrought with assumptions and which puts the entire risk on the equity (or what is left of it), of my home. I will vote NO , and convey to the city council that they need to find another plan.

  107. Mr. X
    Posted April 11, 2012 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    But the real question is…. Has your wife met him?

  108. Glen S.
    Posted April 11, 2012 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    @ jdelcamp

    You say that you are “not willing to risk the collapse of my beloved neighborhood on a plan wrought with assumptions and which puts the entire risk on the equity (or what is left of it), of my home.”

    Don’t you see? That’s EXACTLY what many of us fear will happen if these taxes *don’t* pass.

    Like you, I’m concerned about the negative impacts these new taxes might bring … but I’m WAY MORE concerned about the negative consequences of fewer firefighters, fewer police, and having Ypsilanti end up in the daily headlines as just another “failed” city along the lines of Ecorse, Highland Park or Pontiac. Once we we get to that point (perhaps living with bars on our doors and windows?) what do you think your home will be worth? Do you think anybody will want to move here? Start a business?

    You also say: “I will vote NO , and convey to the city council that they need to find another plan.”

    Again, WHAT plan?! I’m sure you’ve seen the budget numbers, so I’m sure you know the only way we can keep the budget balanced over the next few years is to make deep (devastating) cuts to Police and Fire. If you, and the rest of the “No” folks are really O.K. with that, then why won’t you just come out and say it — so voters will at least know where you stand.

    Like I said before, there IS no easy answer; no magic formula; no silver bullet. If there were, I can guarantee you that City Council — especially the members who ran on an “anti-tax” platform — would not be risking the wrath of their constituents by supporting the 5-Year Plan.

    Again, I agree that our taxes are very high, and this plan is far from ideal. But at this point, anybody who still thinks we can defeat these tax proposals on May 8, then wake up the next morning and begin building some new “plan” (short of gutting the Police and Fire Departments) is either not paying attention — or engaging in a lot of wishful thinking.

  109. Curt Waugh
    Posted April 11, 2012 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Glen, I believe that this is a false choice you have presented:

    “What’s at stake is whether we will have a clean, safe community that is attractive to new residents and businesses — or whether we begin (and then quickly accelerate) cuts to core City services, including Police and Fire, that will make our City more dangerous, and less desirable.”

    I believe that a different narrative is starting to take place here and it was captured well by some of what jcdelcamp just wrote: “I am not willing to risk the collapse of my beloved neighborhood on a plan wrought with assumptions and which puts the entire risk on the equity (or what is left of it), of my home. I will vote NO , and convey to the city council that they need to find another plan.”

    Too often, the pro tax hike folks have said that this is the only way to save the city. I contend the exact opposite. I contend that we can save our city by being frugal. You also seem to deride, “If they want to continue spending their time focusing on past decisions…” And yet, that’s exactly why we’re in this mess. We are paying for past mistakes here, not planning our future. If we ignore what happened, we will absolutely do it again. That’s why I have called for changed in our governance to prevent these things from happening again. But none has been offered. It’s just, “Give us your money and trust us.” Based on the PAST, the answer is “NO”.

    It’s time to bite the bullet and take the pain. We will not emerge stronger in 5 years because of high taxes. We will be in the exact same boat we’re in now and no one can credibly claim differently. If, however, we do something different. If, however, we take the pain, pay our damn bills and hold this city together with spit and scotch tape if necessary, I have confidence that the world might actually see Ypsi as a desirable place to live. Where others punted, we pushed.

    All of the people on this blog (and we’re not all of Ypsi, but some of the good parts) care about this city. We are not Detroit in that respect. I don’t even think we’re Benton Harbor. I think we’re different, better. I don’t anticipate a crime spree. I don’t anticipate fires ripping through the neighborhoods and burning them to the ground. I anticipate us holding together through the bad times shoring up our property values and burnishing our reputation. We can be stronger in 5 years, but not by doing the same thing that made us so weak right now.

  110. John Galt
    Posted April 11, 2012 at 9:24 am | Permalink


  111. Knox
    Posted April 11, 2012 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    If someone answered this and I missed it, I apologize. As I didn’t see a response, though, I thought that I’d try again.

    Posted April 9, 2012 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    For me, it all comes down to the Emergency Manager.

    Curt says the following:

    “If we get our house in order, there is no emergency manager. That’s not even up for debate. Ypsi has no need for one.”

    My vote hinges on this question.

    From what I’m told, this is not true. If the tax and millage don’t pass, according to people that I trust, the city will fail. If this is not the case, please speak up now and let me know.

    Given the obligations that we have as a community, is it possible that we can cut our way to a balanced budget?

  112. Glen S.
    Posted April 11, 2012 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    @ Knox

  113. Glen S.
    Posted April 11, 2012 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    @ Curt

    “I think we’re different, better. I don’t anticipate a crime spree. I don’t anticipate fires ripping through the neighborhoods and burning them to the ground.”

    I think we’re different, and better, too — but if you think that the City (and its residents) won’t suffer serious consequences from the cuts that will be necessary without additional income, you are fooling yourself.

    I moved to Ypsilanti many years ago, when both our reputation and our reality were very different. Much of downtown was boarded-up, and Ypsilanti was regarded by many as, at best, a joke — and at worst, as a dangerous, crime-ridden place to avoid.

    It has taken many years of citizen involvement (and a seriously stepped-up approach to community policing) to begin to change that, so that now, we see new residents moving in, new businesses opening up, etc. — but I believe that it wouldn’t take too many more cuts for us to reach a “tipping point” where things start to slide back in the opposite direction.

    So, despite the risk that additional taxes might dissuade some people (or businesses) from wanting to locate here — I’m willing to take the chance — because I belive the consequences of not doing so will be far, far worse.

  114. dirtgrain
    Posted April 11, 2012 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Curt wrote: “I contend that we can save our city by being frugal.”

    Do you know what this would look like? Do you have specific cuts in mind? Saying that you think we can save our city by being frugal, without saying what that frugality will look like, makes it seem like you don’t know. Show us your future Ypsilanti.

  115. Dan
    Posted April 11, 2012 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    In the Mayor’s State of the City pdf on the city website, the projected revenues from the city income tax are $580k in 2013, but jump to $2.7 million in 2017, rising steadily each year.

    What is the basis for this projected increase of almost 5 times the 2013 revenue?

  116. dirtgrain
    Posted April 11, 2012 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    Drug addicts, maybe.

  117. Dan
    Posted April 11, 2012 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Seriously, is the entire basis of this 5 year plan the assumption of 5 fold economic growth in the city?

    thats ludicrous.

  118. dirtgrain
    Posted April 11, 2012 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    I was under the impression that state funding cuts were a big part of the projected deficits (I think the Mayor posted about this above).

  119. dirtgrain
    Posted April 11, 2012 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    From a Mayor Schreiber post above: “State revenue sharing has been cut from $4 million in 2001 to $2 million now and is projected to go down to $1.2 million in 2017.”

  120. Glen S.
    Posted April 11, 2012 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    @ Dan

    As I recall, these numbers reflect the following:

    1) That in the first year of implementation, the tax would be collected for only a partial fiscal year — hence the very low number in the first year.

    2.) That there would be start-up costs during the first year or two (new software, staff training, etc.); AND that it would take year or two for businesses and individual taxpayers to become familiar with the new system — hence the expectation that the “net” benefits would increase over time.

    So, no, it doesn’t appear that anybody is expecting a 5-fold increase in economic growth under this plan. What does seem evident is that, in this plan, City Council is trying to provide the public with a realistic estimate of the amount of income that actually be captured by the new tax during its first few years.

  121. Misterk
    Posted April 11, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    A question for those advocating a for an income tax – are you opposed to giving non-residents a seat on your city council? It seems only fair that if you are taking people’s income to fund a city that you give them some voice in the government. Would taxed non-residents get any voice or is the only vote is to use their feet and find another city to work in if they don’t like it? Would non-residents get to take advantage of all city services? Reminds me of something I’ve heard somewhere before – no taxation without representation.

  122. Dan
    Posted April 11, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    I’d like to see the “Feasibility Study” that is cited for these numbers.

    Glen, your point in #2 makes no sense. Individuals and businesses would file their taxes the same way they do now, just with the added income tax. Turbotax specifically asks you if you live or work in a list of cities. I dont think it’s very logical to say it’s going to take a few years for people the learn to pay the tax.

  123. Dan
    Posted April 11, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    and also the first part of #2 is not correct either. I was referring to the revenue, not the net benefit after expenditures

  124. j
    Posted April 11, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    I have only skimmed it, but I think the answer to your question is in the City Income Tax Feasibility Analysis:

  125. Dan
    Posted April 11, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    yeah, i just found that. Seems weird.

    “The first couple of years of the tax is likely to generate less than the full amount estimated, due to issues related to education, timely implementation of payroll withholdings, etc. The City may be best served to plan on receiving 50% of the initial expected level of revenues in the first year and 75% in the second year. Full implementation will likely not occur until the 3rd year of the tax. As the City, employers and taxpayers become familiar with the tax, actual collections will

    do those taxes just get “lost?” thats a lot of money to just assume is lost due to not being familiar with it

  126. kjc
    Posted April 11, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    ever once in a while, Dan, when you’re asking questions, I can’t remember why it is you care about this shithole.

  127. Dan
    Posted April 11, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    ever once in a while, kjc, when you’re asking questions, I can’t remember why it is you care about what I care about.

  128. kjc
    Posted April 11, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    so you don’t care. you’re just here to talk. ok.

  129. Mr. Y
    Posted April 11, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    OK, is that a good place to stop the debate? Have everyone’s questions been answered?

  130. Dan
    Posted April 11, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Permalink


    please keep your assumptions about me to yourself.

  131. jcdelcamp
    Posted April 11, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

    Walk down any residential neighborhood. Stop at each house and think “Will the owner of this place vote to pay an additional $1,000.00 a year to maintain the status-quo in Ypsilanti? When I think of it in these terms, it becomes hard for me to believe that this tax/millage has a ghost of a chance of succeeding. I’m saddened that this has been again attempted. It causes our community to be polarized when we need to instead unite.

  132. Andy Cameron
    Posted April 11, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    I walk around and think “how will this homeowner feel when we have an emergency manager, the WS millage is forced on us, crime is up and property values are down, and we had a chance to do something to prevent it in 2012 but bailed out because of fear and greed.”

    At this point I think the converted No to Yes council contingent needs to take front and center.

  133. Miller
    Posted April 11, 2012 at 10:44 pm | Permalink


  134. Andy Cameron
    Posted April 11, 2012 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    We bought our home in 2007 (moved in from low tax twp) and paid high taxes from the beginning. Our property taxes have declined some since and we recognize that this directly and negatively impacts Ypsilanti’s collective revenue.

    We also recognize that our city has a debt that must be repaid, regardless of how this debt came about. We recognize that we have pension obligations that we must meet.

    At the obvious risk of condescension, I ask for more seriousness from the No crowd. I’ve read almost everything here and on the fb thread(s), and my interp is that some people just don’t want to pay more no matter what, and they’ll twist themselves in whatever logical knots to justify that position.

    It’s just silly to think that we can make big cuts to $ we give to people who provide public safety, and then think that it won’t result in real reduction of services. I call for Curt or any other defender of this to get specific.

    No one likes taxes, but there can be worse alternatives.

  135. Curt Waugh
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    Andy, I will not rise to your bait as you have so little class as to characterize a logical, well-presented opposition as mere “greed”. I believe that the high tax folks have genuinely misinterpreted the situation and have presented a plan with no hope if passing.

  136. Glen S.
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    I agree with Andy.

    Reading through all this, I get the feeling that many “No” folks think that if the votes on May go down, then “great, problem over, now we can all get back to our regularly-scheduled lives.”

    Problem is … nothing could be farther from the truth.

    If these measures are defeated, that won’t be the end of the story — nor will it be the end of the divisiveness within the community. Instead, the battle will just shift — as residents, and neighborhoods begin to engage in a lengthy, ongoing struggle over how – and where — to absorb more than $13 MILLION in cuts over the next five years. Which neighborhoods will have slower Police and Fire response times? Which neighborhoods will experience more crime? How infrequently will trash be picked up, etc. … Again, I can’t imagine how any person (or business) would ever consider relocating to a community once we reach such a tipping-point.

    On the other hand, if these measures pass, we know that for at least five years (and probably longer), we’ll be able to maintain services (especially Police and Fire protection) at current levels — or, the “status quo” as jdelcamp calls it.

    I know this isn’t the case for everyone — but as someone whose property taxes have gone down nearly $1700 over the past few years, the prospect of paying back just a *portion* of that to keep police on the street, firefighters ready and available to protect my home, making sure we have dedicated professionals providing services to citizens and businesses at City Hall — not to mention keeping Ypsilanti fiscally stable, and in the hands of local and democratically-elected officials (vs. a Snyder-appointed bureaucrat) seems well worth it.

  137. Dan
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 8:26 am | Permalink


    I think what Curt and the others here are getting at is that the “status quo” is not a real plan and doesnt solve anything. Residents are being asked to pay more money, and not getting any real progress from it. Are the poorly rated schools going to improve? no, it’s the same. Is there going to be more police and fire protection? no, it’s the same. Is this going to spark economic growth? no, it will actually hamper it quite significantly.

    That “plan” doesnt make sense, given that the city already has by far the highest taxes in the county. It’s a sign or poorly run services if Ypsi can’t survive on the crazy taxes it already levies. Why do you think continuing to give them more money is the solution?

    This “plan” will do harm, and not actually improve anything. The status quo should not be the goal. Increasing taxes will make Ypsi LESS desirable for businesses, and less desirable for new residents.

  138. Glen S.
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    “Increasing taxes will make Ypsi LESS desirable for businesses, and less desirable for new residents.”

    Perhaps. But the question is: Will slower police and fire response times, more crime, and having Ypsilanti in the headlines as a “failing” city in league with Ecorse, Highland Park and Pontiac be even worse?

  139. Curt Waugh
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    Glen, I would remind all of you – because no one has mentioned this before – that our property taxes never should have been that high to begin with. If you’ll recall, our houses were grossly overvalued and way too much money went into city coffers for a while there. What did our leaders do with those riches? I think that has been covered here already.

    I have no desire to go back to the bubble. Without a wholesale change in governance to go with this wholesale change in our tax base, this proposal is dead in the water. You keep asking what the plan is. The plan is to cut and to survive. The plan is self-evident. This is not the end of life as we know it. If, like the rest of us, you think it might be the beginning, then stay and take care of your property and keep spending your money here. That’s what my family intends to do. I doubt we’re alone.

    Our lives are not government. I repeat: OUR LIVES ARE NOT GOVERNMENT.

    By the way, remember when all that money was pouring in and Benton Harbor didn’t have an EM? Yeah, that’s when crime was at its highest:

    “Based on this trend, the crime rate in Benton Harbor for 2012 is expected to be lower than in 2009.”

    So goes Pontiac:
    “Based on this trend, the crime rate in Pontiac for 2012 is expected to be lower than in 2009.”

    So goes Flint:
    “…the city — recorded 225 forcible rapes in 2010. However, that would also mark a decrease from the 239 recorded in the broader area in 2008.”

    These places aren’t falling apart (any more than general economic conditions have already caused). It calls into question this entire narrative about crime that the high tax folks have fabricated. If you have better stats, please share them. Every source I found reported that crime was down – including in Detroit.

  140. Posted April 12, 2012 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    I was in Ypsi yesterday. I don’t think that taxes will have any effect on the hair braiding industry, which seems to be a growing sector of the Ypsi economy.

    I counted four hair braiding salons in downtown alone. I could only conclude that the demand for hair braiding is immense, and that free market competition from proximally located braiding salons is helping to keep prices low. One shop even offered a $20 discount.

    Outside of that, the hobby shop, Rocket gift shop, antique store and Fast Eddies appear unfazed by taxation, though I did note that Rocket gift shop moved across the street from its previous location.

    Downtown Ypsi, however, suffers not from massive and crushing taxation, but from the large number of vacant store fronts that sit between businesses. You should offer incentives to consolidate all the hair braiding shops into one location; a sort of “Braiding Street.”

    Hidden Dragon Chinese restaurant gets 5 stars. The best food I’ve had in Ypsi, ever.

  141. Dan
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 11:05 am | Permalink


    Now, imagine those local companies being asked to give up 1% of their profits, and being asked to pay for additional property taxes.

    Those braid shops will just move 1/2 mile down the street into the township, where they do not have those issues.

    And even more to the point, all of those vacant store fronts will remain vacant. They can’t attract businesses there now, so why would they suddenly begin to attract businesses, when the corporations and their employees have to pay extra taxes?

  142. kjc
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    downtown areas with empty storefronts are a reality in america. i still like downtown areas. i’m glad i live in a place that has one. call me sentimental.

  143. Dan
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    however kjc, people do own and operate those buildings. They count on rent to pay for the tax bill the city levies on them.

  144. kjc
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Dan, your ability to state the obvious is unmatched.

  145. Dan
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    kjc, your ability to be a confrontational prick is unmatched. Thanks for contributing to this discussion.

  146. Posted April 12, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    I am into downtown areas, as well. Actually, I like Ypsi’s downtown very much. I really like that there are 4 braiding places right next to one another.

    The empty storefronts are troubling. I very much doubt that taxes have anything to do with the empty storefronts. Businesses like to be where customers are. If there are few customers, there will be few businesses. Contrary to what many people seem to believe, the goal of business is not to avoid paying taxes, but to sell goods and services to customers who are willing to buy them. For storefront based businesses, location is an essential element.

    The braiding businesses will stay where they are.

  147. Posted April 12, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    And this was overlooked:

    “Hidden Dragon Chinese restaurant gets 5 stars. The best food I’ve had in Ypsi, ever.”

    For this alone, I will visit downtown Ypsilanti again.

  148. kjc
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    “kjc, your ability to be a confrontational prick is unmatched.”

    @Dan: Pot meet kettle. or is this not Mr. Shithole? i consider you utterly disingenuousness and/or bored. i’m not surprised you’re thin-skinned as well.

    as to what concerns ypsi…i’m more and more on the fence about the income tax. the flyer was very bad (finally got mine). people who hate the city and/or who hate govt. have no affect on my vote.

  149. Ypsiosaurus Wrecks
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    The two major underground economies in Ypsi are drugs and prostitution. Why is there never a serious discussion on how to legalize and tax either? It’s time to embrace reality and harness the real draw of Ypsi.

  150. Tommy
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    This thread has officially jumped the shark!

  151. Dan
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Permalink


    my comment about ypsi being a shithole was in comparison to Ann Arbor. If you understood the context of that thread, and didnt jump all over a comment that got under YOUR thin skin, you would understand I was not trying to be confrontational. I was disputing the claim that “ypsi is a lot like ann arbor, only cooler.” If that upsets you, fine, but it’s my opinion, and there’s a reason why property values are much lower in ypsi than in AA.

    anyway, that was a different thread. you’ve contributed nothing to this thread, except snide useless remarks. So who is the one that is bored here?

  152. dirtgrain
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Curt, what would you cut? What would the effects of these cuts be?

  153. Knox
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    Peter thinks that black women should be bald, or have their hair done in alleys, I guess.

    Maybe he’d be happier if Ypsi had an artisanal mayonnaise store.

    I now officially pronounce this thread closed.

  154. Posted April 12, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Permalink


    I’m into the braiding places. I was just surprised that there were so many in one place.

    For the record, I’m into Ypsi’s downtown, sparse as it may be. Please don’t misunderstand me.

  155. Posted April 12, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    I’m saying something positive about Ypsi and that taxation will not change anything about the city.

  156. Right Wing
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    “1st you accuse me of sniffing gas, now I am psychotically violent.”

    I’m at a loss on this. Can you direct me to the comment where I accused you of sniffing gas?

    You mention that, “now I am psychotically violent” and “Come knock on my door and we will talk. If you are lucky my hubby will answer and not me.”

    Forgive me if I find that a bit threatening.

    Why would that be lucky for me if I knocked on your door and you didn’t answer? I’m glad to knock on your door, but I’d like to know what will happen if I do and whether I should bring a police escort and/or witnesses.

    Please know that if you’re undergoing emotional distress, I understand; I’ve had friends in similar situations, many of whom were very politically active as well. They were very passionate, if not entirely comprehensible to everyone else, about their views.

    I hope you are okay!

  157. Right Wing
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

    sorry! I forgot to address my comments: to dear @maryd.

  158. Right Wing
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

    Other observations:

    Dan seems unhappy. Not quite broke, not quite achieving. Trying to prove something he quite can’t prove. His life isn’t like he planned. He’s venting about something that doesn’t really affect him. He’s looking for a cause to blame. A missing fire. Give him five or ten years and he’ll work through it.

    Curt is a dull version of our current council. He gets the political points, but he’s less concerned with working through the math … which he can’t really hang with as much as he’d like to … than our current council. He tries to overachieve by reading everything he can but he doesn’t, quite, understand it all. He thinks if he’s elected to council someone will tutor him and he’ll be great. Truth is, he’ll be a wreck. He knows it deep down, but is grasping at scattered praise.

    The one person who could put an end to all this nonsense is Brian Robb. He’s saner than MaryD, way more successful than Dan, and far more intelligent than Curt.

    But, Brian’s real value has been fading since he was elected. The value of talking open and straight. Speaking sense to crazy. Council requires balls.

  159. Left Hand
    Posted April 13, 2012 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    @Right Wing: I know who you are. You are a pompous ass and an arrogant fool to think you will not get exposed here. Rant on.

  160. Dan
    Posted April 13, 2012 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    lmao @ Right Wing. you got me pegged.

  161. Posted April 13, 2012 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    Hidden Dragon Chinese restaurant gets 5 stars. The best food I’ve had in Ypsi, ever.

  162. Dan
    Posted April 13, 2012 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    @ Left Hand,

    Apparently Right Wing thinks it’s appropriate to post people’s home address here. I disagree with that, but I’m not as successful or happy as him. I’m not an urban achiever like him. Maybe in 5 or 10 years I’ll have it figured out and will then find it appropriate to post personal information on someone else’s blog.

  163. anonymous
    Posted April 13, 2012 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    From the Mayor.

    This chart shows the Ypsilanti city staffing cuts over the last ten years. In 2004 the Recreation Department was cut. After the 2007 city income tax was defeated, 14 positions were eliminated. Let’s stop the cuts and stabilize our budget by approving both the city income tax and Water Street debt millage on May 8th!

    You can see the chart here:

  164. anonymous
    Posted April 13, 2012 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    From Erika Nelson:

    For those who think there was no impact of the last income tax proposal decision: there has been a 30% cut in the police force since 2007. Six officer positions and 4 dispatch positions (dispatchers cover the front desk and other roles when officers are on the road). Per Chief Walker at the meeting last night: foot patrols, community policing, school police officer at the high school will all disappear. A 40% cut to current police and to fire are needed to cope with the budget if these proposals do not pass. These aren’t scare tactics. This is reality.

  165. Posted April 13, 2012 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    The Mayor’s graphic is interesting. At the present rate, we can expect Ypsilanti to have no police services at all by 2032. In fact, police services have been cut by 40% in the past decade.

    Does anyone know where to find data on tax revenues, assets, and liabilities by year for the City? I found a graphic on Mark’s site, but not the raw data.

    I don’t know why I care.

  166. Curt Waugh
    Posted April 13, 2012 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    “… there has been a 30% cut in the police force since 2007.”

    In 2006, before the cuts – the crime index was 557.8.

    In 2010, several years after the cuts – the crime index was 428.3.

    Am I missing something here? Can someone please comment on these very real facts? I also can’t find data for 2011. That might change the picture, but I’m sure not seeing the point you’re trying to make here.

    (Whatever happened to Prof MarkH? I liked his comments.)

  167. Andy Cameron
    Posted April 13, 2012 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    One anecdote re cuts in policing… we had a lawnmower stolen out of our shed last fall during one rash of those kinds of thefts. I made a police report, and when the officer came out I asked if I could get any basic advice on best practices, or some kind of basic security audit. I was informed that this program used to exist, but has was cut within the last several years.

    It’s a little thing, but death by a thousand cuts as they say…

  168. Peve Sierce
    Posted April 13, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    If we gave our police offices and fire fighters little bags, they could collect pop bottles while they made their way around the city. It would make the city look better AND it would offset the amount that we pay for their salaries.

  169. Dan
    Posted April 13, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Permalink


    I’ll try out Hidden Dragon, but hold you accountable. The place has always intrigued me, but never around there for lunch these days. I have yet to have really good asian cuisine in Ypsi. People raved to me about TupTim, but I was really disappointed in it. Dalat was weird-ish, but decent i guess. That new(er) monstrosity of a buffet on Washtenaw is decent with a lot of selection, but nothing to write home about. The new sushi/thai place that just opened down in the township on Whitaker was actually pretty damn good, but way too expensive, they wont last at their prices without a liquor license

    Best food I’ve ever had in Ypsi? I’d probably say Roy’s.

  170. Glen S.
    Posted April 13, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    @ Peve

    We could save even MORE money if we just had the Mayor provide all our fire/rescue duties:

  171. Tommy
    Posted April 13, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Andy – the cops were the ones who stole your lawnmower. It is all part of the plan to have them mow the blighted lots of slumlords with ‘recovered’ property while walking a beat. The 2 for 1 plan if the tax doesn’t pass. they will be pushing snow shovels in the Winter.

  172. Dan
    Posted April 13, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    anyone have a link to the feasibility study that says Ypsi’s own police department is more cost effective than contracting with county sheriffs?

  173. Posted April 13, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Hidden dragon is not standard American Chinese fare. Lots of spicy food. Really quite excellent.

    I reccomend the Ma Po Tofu or any of the hot pots.

    They don’t speak much English so they’re kind of not much help with recommendations.

    The steamed wontons were also excellent.

  174. Mike Shecket
    Posted April 14, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    Hitler Hitler Hitler! Am I too late?

  175. Michael LaCoste
    Posted April 19, 2012 at 1:03 am | Permalink

    I’ll keep it brief. It’s against my self-interest and not an easy decision to make, but I love this city. I am voting YES.

    P.S. @ Curt: It’s really hard to empathize with the tax increase that you face when the median household income in this city is $28,610.

  176. Cheryl W
    Posted April 21, 2012 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

    We are all the 99%. We have faced cuts in pay, through negotiation, increases in what we contribute to our benefits, loss of income through furloughs, wage freezes, lay-offs, unemployment, underemployment, and our homes, (our largest asset) has lost value beyond the bubble. Some would tout the Ypsilanti Twsp as being desirable because of lower taxation rates…With no disrespect to the officers who serve there, the service is poor and the home values have dropped even more than in the City. Someone said the water rate was lower but, I did not find that to be the case. I was fortunate to live in a neighborhood with a low crime rate, and moved to a neighborhood with a low crime rate. My current neighborhood enjoys a more diverse population. This will be my last home. I am paying much less in property tax than when I purchased this home. Fewer of my State and Federal tax dollars are being returned here. Every remedy to change this must be sought. The first is to shift some of my contribution to local operations to an income tax. The other is to pay a share of the Water Street debt. We cannot hope to expand services to a larger regional base without addressing our finances proactively. Our business, academic, environmental, art, recreation, and entertainment communities have created an attractive community to live in. We enjoy great events, opportunities, and associations. I will vote yes on May 8th for both proposals. Thank you to everyone who chooses to support and Occupy the City of Ypsilanti.

  177. Right Wing
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 12:37 am | Permalink

    Left Hand. Awesome detective work! Don’t hold back on my account. Honey badger don’t give a shit.

    Dan: “Apparently Right Wing thinks it’s appropriate to post people’s home address here.”

    Um, I’m just quoting from the address of the postcard mailed to my private address. I apologize if the address proudly displayed on the junk mail I received was supposed to be private. Maybe the postcard should say, “This is from XXX, but please don’t reference that online.”

    The address of XXX bought it. Sent it. Didn’t realize XXX wanted their mass email to be private.

    And, Dan, I realize it’s a bit strong-handed to peg someone. But this isn’t the issue to work out your bigger issues. It might impress people you want to impress, but it’s not worth the cost to this community. Think about it.

  178. Posted April 22, 2012 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    This debate is going on all over the state

  179. Edward
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the link, wobblie. I particularly liked this part.

    “The state has routinely broken promises to local governments over the years, and the repeal of the personal property tax without a replacement is yet another example, and local governments have to do the hard work of balancing the competing needs of paying for services citizens really insist on receiving from government and actually paying for them. The burden would be eased by collecting a smaller amount of taxation from a statewide pool, but that option is taken away by a Legislature that wants to claim to be all about cutting taxes while ignoring its obligation to see that the needs of the citizenry are met. It’s political cowardice masked as fiscally responsible behavior.”

  180. KW
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Guess where I won’t be buying a house…that’s right…Ypsilanti. Glad I live in Superior Twp.

  181. J
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

    @ kw, we’re glad you live in superior twp. too.

  182. Demetrius
    Posted April 23, 2012 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    Interesting article yesterday in

    It seems the Republicans in Lansing are getting ready to take away one of the few remaining ways Michigan cities, like Ypsilanti, have to pay for local government services.
    Don’t worry though, these same Republicans “promise” to find the money to replace the lost revenue … somewhere … er, eventually … maybe?

    It seems that, to satisfy the “all taxes are bad” zombies in their suburban and exurban districts, Michigan Republicans seem increasingly prepared to sacrifice older, urban communities like Ypsilanti by first starving them of needed revenue — then, when they implode financially — appointing an “Emergency Manager,” to pick the bones clean.

    If communities like Ypsilanti want to survive (and remain independent– with local and democratic decision-making authority), we are going to have to figure out how to pay for basic services ourselves without any help from Lansing.

    In the short term, I think that will mean raising taxes. It might be painful, at first, but right now, I don’t see any alternative.

  183. Anonymous Mike
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    They don’t have time to debate, but they have time to publish editorials in the Ann Arbor News.

  184. kjc
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Editorials are better. No one can talk back to you.

  185. Murdock by Proxy
    Posted April 28, 2012 at 6:35 am | Permalink


    Five years ago I was a leading opponent of the City Income Tax (CIT). But that was then, this is now. The projected increase in tax revenues without the CIT never materialized. If we had the $2-$4 million more annually, we would not be discussing a CIT today. Further, in 2008 the economy crashed and the housing bubble burst. Taxable values plummeted causing an annual loss of $2 million in tax revenues collected by the City of Ypsilanti over what it was in 2008. The election of a new governor and state legislature in 2010 did not stem the tide of continued reductions of State Shared Revenues, now reduced by over $2 million dollars from several years ago. And lastly the debt payments for Water Street are now due.

    During the last several years the City has reduced its workforce from 139 to 96; partnered with our neighbors for a mutual aid (box alarm) arrangement for our fire department and changed dispatching to the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department. We reduced health care benefit costs; froze and reduced salaries; required additional employee contributions toward health care benefits and reduced pension and health care benefits for new employees.

    For the last year, City Council has worked on developing a long term plan that recognizes the shrinking revenue situation and the need to provide services to maintain a safe and attractive community. After considerable review and discussion of various items and alternatives, City Council adopted a Five Year Plan providing for a deficit free budget that stabilizes city services over the next five years and beyond. It is a balanced approach using expenditure reductions, a broader based replacement tax (CIT) that adds 6,000 new non-resident tax payers and a temporary Water Street Debt millage with City reserves reducing the millage rate in half.

    The two Ballot proposals are critical to our community’s future. Failure to find replacement revenue and remove the Water Street Debt obligation from the general fund WILL result in major reductions in City services and employees next year and the years following. These reductions will impact public safety and other services and make us a less desirable City to live, work and do business in.

    It’s our community and our future. It’s up to us. There is no rescue squad from Lansing. I urge a YES vote on both proposals on May 8th.

    A note about Water Street: The folks that we previously elected committed the City’s full faith and credit to payment of that debt. We were left unprotected by those who involved us in this project. We are now stuck with a debt obligation that we cannot ignore and will not go away.

    We can continue to rail at those who got us here. But they are gone. We are left to clean up the mess. I refuse to allow the Farmer’s Folly fiasco of Water Street to spiral into the permanent death knell for our community. That would be the ultimate in cutting off our nose to spite our face. A temporary debt millage restricted solely to pay this debt is the best of bad choices.

    For further information on the May 8th Tax proposals go to the City Web Site
    or contact me at 485-7799 or

    Pete Murdock

    City Council – Ward Three

  186. Glen S.
    Posted April 28, 2012 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    A note about Water Street: This decision (and the blame-storming that surrounds it) is old news. At a time when Ypsilanti faces an unprecedented threat, one might hope that City leaders would be more interested in bringing people together to actually solve the problem — rather than continuing to whip up long-standing anger and resentment for political purposes.

    Unless, of course, this is not really about the May 8 election at all, but instead about the August primary …

  187. Left Hand
    Posted April 29, 2012 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    In regards to Gary S. post I am surprised to see him comment that this is somehow political and that blame is somehow old news. I was also surprised to hear Ms. Farmer recently hosted a big event at her home to raise funds to pass the mileage for a disaster she created (an event you attended). So how is this old news when Cheryl Farmer is now personally trying to get the citizens to pay for Water Street by hosting a fund raiser at her house?
    As for being political, I think Pete Murdoch knows he committed political suicide when he got behind the CIT proposal. It would be surprising to see him even run for office again.

  188. citywatch
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    Airing old resentments aside, let’s try to frame this discussion another way. We have a 1% in our city. The 1% in our city are opposed to the Water Street millage and the income tax measures in spite of the fact that they can afford to pay it. Much of the property they own has lower property taxes now just like many of us 99% ers do. They are largely funding the SCIT campaign. They, along with the GOP over the years, have convinced some other not wealthy people that paying a tax, even though you get something for it, is bad. This belief is sincerely held, but apparently unexamined. They have made money from the city and local culture, but do not want to pay back to support the things that made it possible for them to gain wealth and continue to gain wealth in the future.

    Look at all the SCIT signs on rental property all over the town, and see who the outspoken are for a useful guide to the who’s who of the 1%. I know a lot of the 99% who are paying lower property taxes are willing to give SOME of that back to the city in the form of the income tax and Water Street millage and keep the rest in their pocket, why can’t the 1% do that? The amount they are spending on the “NO” campaign would be a good start on what they, like the rest of us, would have to pay. Perhaps they have a secret plan to defeat the ballot proposal, take over city government, default on Water street, buy the property and all the forclosed property around it, and build a giant minor league baseball stadium on it like Lansing did. Then stand back and reap the benefits, if they live long enough.

    That could be their plan for all we know. However, if that is not it and they have a plan, any plan, why not let the voters know? Just saying “NO” will work for Ypsilanti’s budget deficit about as well as the Nancy Regan’s “Just Say No” drug policy did…..not at all. Voting “yes” is the only thing that keeps our city and our future in our hands. I don’t mind paying a bit more to retain what we have.

  189. anonymous
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    Maybe Steve has plans to bring his buddy Dave Curtis back to town and open a giant, 30-acre Mongolian BBQ complex on the site, where strippers race around on Segways serving meals, and all of the toilets clean your asses with streams of warm, soapy water.

  190. anonymous
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    Sorry for the snark. I was hungry and I took Citywatch’s bait.

  191. maryd
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    So sorry citywatch, but this issue cannot be framed as a 1%, republican, or tea party issue. Not when you are talking about making Ypsilanti homeowners and workers’ pay more in income tax and property tax. Yes let’s balance the city’s budget on the backs of those that have been giving and losing, losing the equity in their homes they worked so hard for, losing their jobs, losing their ability to pay for fuel costs, those cutting their grocery budgets to make ends meet. I know for fact I that SCIT is not funded by a few wealthy 1%ers. That is just a pretty lie to make you all feel better. Apparently you have not visited the neighborhoods or you would see that many homes sport SCIT signs too. Yes landlords have a lot to lose. (these Ypsilanti business people you are all aching to attract, they are all evil right??) Anyone with much property does. I have talked to many homeowners, whose taxes have only gone up over these past years and cannot continue to lose more.

  192. Watching Laughing.
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 9:38 am | Permalink




  193. Citywatch
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Ever figured out what you would actually pay on the REAL calculator (not SCIT’s)? And yes, I do understand that not everyone can find the money, and no the 1 percent I am talking about are not evil, business is not evil. It’s just that when a place has helped in your personal economic development, keeping it going is in your own best interest, or so it seems to me.
    Love that idea, but too late. I hear that the French’s have taken over Woodruff’s and are already moving forward with that idea. Think it even has a new name to compliment the action.

  194. Citywatch
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    Seriously Maryd, I respect that you oppose the May 8 ballot measures, but what do you propose we do then?

  195. Citywatch
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Seriously Maryd, I respect your decision about the ballot measures on May 8, but if not that what do you propose?

  196. KW
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    What needs to be done is amend the state constitution and go to a progressive state income tax. Then enhance revenue sharing with the increased tax revenues from the wealthy. Flat rate income taxes are regressive and mainly penalize the working poor and middle class.

  197. Posted April 30, 2012 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    KW, I think you might like this post, if you haven’t read it already.

  198. Posted April 30, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    For anyone interested in the “who’s funding which campaign” that Maryd and Citywatch are back and forth about, the 4/27/12 pre-election campaign finance statements are available on the County’s website:

    Stop City Income Tax (bonus points for typing, and…alphabetizing donors by first name? Huh.)

    Save Ypsilanti Yes (names/addresses typed — both campaigns get watchdog bonus points for readability!)

  199. Demetrius
    Posted May 1, 2012 at 5:07 am | Permalink

    No real surprises here — especially on the “no” side: Basically, a bunch of Ypsilanti’s wealthiest individuals, property owners and landlords — many of whom have greatly benefited from the large tax reductions that have resulted from falling taxable values — don’t want to have to return even a portion of that savings, even if it means bankrupting the City.

    (Or, as someone else here put it more succinctly: “Rich people don’t want to pay taxes. So what else is new?”)

    So, in order to maintain the status quo, they’ve waged an expensive campaign to convince a bunch of ordinary working- and middle-class folks that a “no” vote is in *their* best interest, too — including many who would pay very little, or even nothing at all — even if it gutting the police and fire departments, and letting Ypsilanti be taken over by an emergency manager.

    This is nothing more than Tea Party politics, Ypsilanti edition.

    Not to worry, though … I’m sure Mayor Pierce will fix this whole mess, come 2014.

  200. EOS
    Posted May 1, 2012 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    Yes, the No side looks like a bunch of landlords who would have a hard time renting their properties should the occupants be required to pay income tax to the city. And they would have difficulty selling their property because of their depressed value and few buyers who want to be burdened with a city income tax. Keeping landlords in the city is beneficial for revenues as they pay significantly a higher property tax rate than owner occupied residents.

    The Yes side includes a lot of wealthy retirees.

    Most residents can’t afford the luxury of supporting local politics. They are struggling just to make ends meet and provide for their families.

  201. Eel
    Posted May 1, 2012 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    As depressing as I find the prospect of paying more in taxes, I find the prospect of Mayor Pierce even worse. If that comes to pass, I really will sell my house and move to Ann Arbor.

  202. Demetrius
    Posted May 1, 2012 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Interesting how the “no” side keeps talking about how paying a bit more in taxes is going to drive away potential new residents and businesses … yet, nobody seems to want to acknowledge the risk that residents and businesses may leave once services get cut to the point that blight and crime begin to increase.

    I’ve had several conversations recently with neighbors who’ve all expressed the same basic idea: “I love Ypsi and all, but if these cuts start happening, and I start to see security bars on doors and windows becoming the new norm, I’m outta’ here … ”

    Just sayin’ …

  203. Demetrius
    Posted May 1, 2012 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    @ EOS

    “Most residents can’t afford the luxury of supporting local politics.”

    I agree. Democracy should definitely be a privilege reserved for those with plenty of money and free time.

  204. Dan
    Posted May 1, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Aren’t those business owners and landlords the people that you want to keep and attract to the city? As EOS said, landlords pay WAY more in property taxes than O/Os. Why are you trying to drive them away?

    Increasing their taxes means they have to increase rental rates to their tenants. So why would a tenant want to pay extra not only in the indirect non-homestead property tax rates to their landloards, but also an income tax just for living in the city?

    You think this is a way for EMU, that you for some ridiculous reason think is a burden and not an asset, to finally pay you their “fair share.” But all you are going to do is encourage them to live a 1/4 mile outside city boundaries

  205. Demetrius
    Posted May 1, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    @ Dan

    People may question whether they might want to move to a community that has relatively high taxes — but NOBODY is going to move to a community that has increasing crime and blight, or that is in the headlines constantly for being a “failing” City in perpetual fiscal crisis.

  206. John Galt
    Posted May 1, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    Stop with the scare tactics. Crime will not rise in Ypsi, and houses will not burn. The rich will buy fire suppression systems for their homes, and the rest of us can buy buckets with the money we’ve saved in taxes. The Huron River is a powerful fire fighter. We just need to tap into its energy with our ingenuity, and wooden pails. As for crime, just think about the number of guns you could buy each year with what you’d pay in taxes under this proposed system. I bet I could shoot 100 bullets a day and still come out ahead financially. And 100 bullets would kill a lot of thugs.

  207. EOS
    Posted May 1, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Permalink


    So keep your police and cut recycling. Many would consider moving to a city that has volunteer recycling. Recapture the taxes that are used to buy parking lots on the wrong side of the tracks or elevators in a small theater or clocks in the middle of the street. You’re creating a false dilemma that doesn’t stand up to close scrutiny. It’s not “Tax or die” but rather “Let’s spend our limited resources more intelligently.”

  208. Watching Laughing.
    Posted May 1, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    How about the day of the election; a continuous video plays of MAD MAX and Road Warriors at the precincts.

    Might be headed that way,,,


  209. Jennifer
    Posted May 2, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    I just got a “Vote No” flyer in the mail, and I’m stunned by how weak and irrelevant the arguments are: basically, “surrounding cities pay less in taxes than we do.” I don’t see how what other cities pay has any bearing whatsoever on the fiscal situation of Ypsilanti. It’s kind of a teenager’s argument about what other kids’ parents let them do. (And, as others have said, I don’t want to live in Ypsi township precisely because I don’t want that lower quality of services.) “The city spent $23 million on Water Street.” Yes, that’s part of why we’re on the brink of collapse, and part of why we must DO SOMETHING. On the question of pensions, I simply don’t trust the “NO” people to give the facts straight.

    I’ve been driving around town a lot in the past two days, watching the red “NO” signs sprout. It occurred to me this morning, although the “NO” red color scheme is more visible and eye-catching than the “YES” black, the color schemes are actually really telling: red means we’ll be in the red until the state comes to take us over (and then God help us all), black means we have some chance of fiscal sanity, of getting back to being in the black. But evidently so very many of my neighbors and fellow residents don’t see the connection between their plummeting property taxes and the city’s dire fiscal straits. As if there’s a free lunch.

    Lots of people say that these taxes will discourage people from moving here; I don’t see it. What keeps me up at night is what will happen to our already weak property values (I’ve lost at least half of the value on my home since I bought it in 2003) if the city fails.

    VOTE YES, and if you’re thinking of voting no, please think a little harder, please.

  210. Citywatch
    Posted May 2, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps the “Ypsilanti Yes” people or the city could post a scenario of what will happen if the tax does not pass. Let’s say the income tax and mileage are plan “A” then, if it fails, what would plan “B” look like (what would we have to do in that case)?
    I think I saw something like that somewhere, but not here unless I am mistaken.
    Regardless, it might help.

  211. Mr. X
    Posted May 2, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    I believe this is the conversation you’re referring to, CW.

    “How are things in Ypsi likely to change, if the city income tax doesn’t pass?”

  212. Jennifer
    Posted May 2, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    @Maryd–you write, “I have talked to many homeowners, whose taxes have only gone up over these past years and cannot continue to lose more.”

    I just don’t see how this is possible, at least if we’re talking about property taxes. (It sounds to me like the working and middle class people who believe vehemently that their taxes have gone up under Obama, despite all facts to the contrary.) Property taxes are tied to a home’s value, and home values have been sinking for more than 5 years now. Ballpark figure for my house is that my property taxes are about $1100 LOWER this year than last, because my house has lost that much value. If my house has lost half its value, that means, basically, that the city is getting half as much in taxes from me as it used to. So I’ve got a little more cash, but a lot less equity (ie, none, negative equity, deeply underwater), and possibly a huge reduction in quality of life in this city with the cuts that are looming.

    Of course, it really sucks for me personally (and for everyone else in this boat) that our homes have lost so much value–in that sense, I totally agree that I “cannot continue to lose more,” but I’m sure more is coming. But what the NO people can’t seem to grasp is that it sucks for everyone because it means the city is trying to provide the same services with a LOT less money: that yes, Water Street blah blah blah, but the deck is stacked against the city in so many other ways, in terms of how the state, and the real estate market, allow the city to collect revenues in a tiny parcel of land much of which isn’t taxable in the first place (EMU etc).

  213. Dan
    Posted May 2, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    Stop blaming EMU. they are an ASSET, not a liability. Without all of the super high tax rentals and restaurants etc that their students occupy, Ypsi would be Van Buren Twp.

    And why do people keep acting like your falling home value somehow means you owe more to the city. Paying more for a home that is worth less is asinine. Would you like for the IRS to increase income tax rates on the middle class, because they are generating less revenue due to unemployment being high?

  214. Jennifer
    Posted May 2, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    @Dan, I’m not blaming EMU, and as a professor I agree that having a university in the community is an asset in some ways. But in other ways it poses a problem for a small, bounded city to have so much of its square mileage (to which it provides services) off of the property tax rolls. Someone earlier talked about the financial contribution that UM makes to the city of Ann Arbor for precisely this reason, and unless I missed it I don’t think EMU does the same. (And let’s not pretend that EMU has oodles of money sitting around: they are at the mercy of the state in a different way.)

    And I don’t think you read my post carefully. My falling home value means that I am paying much, much LESS to the city. I don’t want to “pay more for a home that is worth less.” I’m 99% sure that I will still pay a ton LESS if both of these initiatives pass than I would be paying if my house were worth the same as it was in 2003. But I think that keeping Ypsi a cool place to live, and not the place where, in living memory, you didn’t dare walk thru Depot Town, or let’s just say you think twice about it, is one important element of stopping the hemmorhage in home values. In other words, I want to pay LESS LESS. I understand the structural factors that are squeezing the city and that the “relief” I am getting on my property taxes because of my home value is not ultimately good for me, but it’s REALLY bad for the city. But in order to understand this I think you have to believe (as I do) that it isn’t just about me, that my household “balance sheet” is connected to the fate of other people in this community and the city itself.

  215. Citywatch
    Posted May 3, 2012 at 12:42 am | Permalink

    Thank you Mr. X. That is the article.

  216. Posted May 3, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    One of the things that frustrates my wife and I is that there are a lot of ‘blustery comments’ that aren’t based on objective reasoning. I think it is obvious that everyone on this blog wants Ypsi to be a good place to live. Starting from there, here are some of my thoughts…
    No one generally likes to pay higher taxes. No one wants to see Police and Fire cut.

    Thinking in more specific terms, the Police, with the help of the FBI and Detroit Police, broke up a theft ring that was operating in Midtown, Normal Park and College Heights. They also closed down the Liquor store at Michigan & Summit where there was drug activity and a shooting.

    Some people have put a lot of money into restoring homes on Summit and Normal between Congress and Michigan Ave. They are beautiful to look at and show real hope for the future.
    I would hate for those people to move away and I would hate for crime to come back into those neighborhoods.

    Looking to the future, I like the idea of an income tax ultimately replacing property tax. While we would have both taxes for the moment, it is something we could work towards. Here is my thinking;
    New businesses, especially any larger manufacturers that purchase property, would owe no tax until they were profitable.
    The city wouldn’t be trapped by artificial limits on how fast revenues can be replaced or generated. On a personal note, I have been out of work for 1 to 3 months every year for the past 4 years. With an income tax, if I do have a contract end suddenly or otherwise lose my job, my tax burden drops to zero.
    retirees on a fixed income don’t have to worry about rising property values (and therefore taxes) forcing them out of their homes.
    While we have to worry about the short term, we also need to think long term.

    The whole pension issue does seem confusing and frustrating. It would be nice to get some clear info on what our obligations are and if it is possible to switch people over to 401k / 403b style accounts but I don’t know if the Police or Fire unions would allow that.

    I think everyone agrees Water Street is a mess. As near as I can tell, we are no longer throwing good money after bad and are simply trying to pay off the $*&^@! debt we owe on it and move on. Sadly there is no reset switch and if we elect fiscally irresponsible leaders during the boom times, we have to deal with painful realities when there are shortfalls.

    I wish we could have more calm face to face discussion on this before next tuesday. Both sides have a risk. Do we have less Fire and police protection or do we potentially have businesses and citizens leave Ypsilanti?
    My only hope is that if the negative effects of our decision, whatever those may be, are shown to outweigh the advantages, that we, as a community, can realize and admit our mistake and rectify the situation as quickly as possible.

  217. Maria
    Posted May 6, 2012 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    So reading through this, my take away is that this tax will not be enough money to stop the pension freight train debacle, and yes, cities can collapse from poor governance, and become essentially very unlivable situations unless they have enough money to run. Happens enough that no one needs to look very far to find cities like that.
    Ypsi’s in a hard spot, and I don’ t know if the tax is enough to keep the EM away. The tax strikes me as a bandaid proposal, or actually, like moving water around in a sinking ship, it’s not really going to change your reality, and will make the town more unlivable. It might pass, but it doesn’t seem to change the trajectory of the problem, but boots it down the road to a less desirable patch of road to traverse.

  218. Glen S.
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    I sent the following to both and the Ypsilanti Courier some time ago, hoping that one of them might post it as an “Opinion” piece ahead of the May 8 vote. Since neither did, I’m posting it here, on election eve:

    Ypsilanti Residents Should Examine Facts, Consider Consequences, Before May 8 Tax Vote.

    Those working to defeat Ypsilanti’s May 8 ballot proposals claim they are bad for our community and that, if passed, some potential new residents and businesses might decide not to locate here.

    But what they’re NOT telling you – in fact, what they refuse to acknowledge, or even debate – is just how dire the City’s current budget situation really is, and how much worse, and more permanent, the consequences of a “No” vote would be, instead.

    Ypsilanti didn’t get here overnight: By 2007, we had already experienced more than a decade of budget cuts – ending grants to local agencies, eliminating the Recreation Department, steadily trimming payrolls, and outsourcing non-essential services.

    Then, 2008 brought the biggest economic crash since the Great Depression, and an unprecedented decline in property (taxable) values that has seen millions of dollars of revenue disappear in just the past four years.

    In response, City Council has continued cutting – consolidating departments and jobs; outsourcing services like IT, payroll, and Police Dispatch; forcing City employees to pay more for their health insurance and pensions; and extracting concessions from union employees.

    A result is that, while Ypsilanti had 140 City employees a decade ago; the current total is down to 93 (a decrease of 34%).

    Still, as taxable values continue falling – and without any new source of additional revenue – Ypsilanti will face budget deficits in each of the next five years, shown below, in dollars and as a percentage of the current $12.6 million budget:

    FY 2013: $ 908,252 (7%)
    FY 2014: $1,757,174 (14%)
    FY 2015: $2,655,684 (21%)
    FY 2016: $3,604,234 (29%)
    FY 2017: $4,433,095 (35%)

    The bottom line? The only way to cover these shortfalls – without an additional source of new revenue – will be to cut 41 additional City staff (a total decrease of 63%!) over the next five years.

    Worse, because City Council has been cutting for so long – and because so much has already been eliminated – the only place left to make the majority of these cuts is the one part of the budget that has remained relatively unscathed: Police and Fire. If these cuts become necessary, there will simply be NO way to maintain a fully-functional Police department, nor guarantee that our Firefighters have the resources they need to fight fires effectively, or safely.

    To prevent this devastating scenario, City Council is asking voters to approve two new sources of revenue: A City Income Tax that would levy 1% on residents, and .5% on non-residents; and a Water Street Debt Retirement Millage that would ensure that funds that would otherwise be used to make payments on these bonds would instead be used to continue paying for core, public-safety services.

    If passed by voters on May 8, these proposals will diversify and broaden Ypsilanti’s tax base (and share the burden of paying for services more fairly) by adding 6,000 new, non-resident taxpayers – allowing the City to replace much of the tax revenue lost to falling property values – while protecting core services, such as Police and Fire, that keep residents, business-owners and visitors safe and secure.

    The plan is far from ideal, but let’s be honest: The May 8 election is not about “trimming the fat,” or “finding efficiencies.” We’ve spent more than a decade doing that, already.

    A “No” vote will not make the Water Street debt “disappear.” It will not punish past City Council members for decisions some didn’t like. Nor will it strike a blow against “greedy” public employees, or unions.

    In fact, the only people who will suffer if the May 8 proposals are defeated are the hard-working Ypsilanti residents, homeowners, and business owners who will end up living daily with the consequences of reduced service – and increasing crime and blight – while our community becomes less attractive to new residents and businesses, and property values tumble even faster.

    The choice we make on May 8 may be the most important one in Ypsilanti’s history – and will likely define our community for decades to come.

    We cannot “cut our way to prosperity,” but we can protect our future as a viable community, by voting “YES” on BOTH ballot questions on May 8.

    (Sorry for the long post)

  219. Dan
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Permalink


    I wasn’t living here 10 or so years ago, but why was the city experiencing a decade plus of cuts leading up to 2007? Property tax revenues were at an all time high in that period. Why was an income tax proposed back then. That is, why couldn’t the city balance it’s budget with a ton of property tax revenue coming in, with an economy that was bustling?

  220. Demetrius
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    @ Dan

    Since you weren’t around 10 or so years ago, you probably don’t remember that Ypsilanti used to have several significant manufacturing plants (Ford, Motor Wheel, etc.) that used to provide a significant amount of tax revenue.

    Once those plants began to cut back/close — mostly because of “free trade” policies enacted at the federal level that encouraged manufacturing to move abroad — Ypsilanti began to lose tax revenue, and was forced to begin trimming its budget.

    So, while the local housing market was definitely going strong in 1997, he overall economy was far from “bustling.”

    Just another of the problems with this so-called “debate” … so many people involved in it either don’t understand the history, or have very short memories.

  221. Dan
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    ok, fair enough.

    However then, I dont know how you can then claim a 1% tax on corporations is a good idea. If the “free market” policies drove the corporations out, why would anyone think making a worse economic environment is a “solution?”

    You don’t need to know the history of ypsi to know that adding a tax on corporations to a city with many vacant buildings isn’t a good idea. Especially when said city is the only one in the area with that tax.

  222. This
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

    The facts, for those who care, are pretty plain.

    Goods and services cost money.

    Yesterday, I paid $200 for an iPod Touch. If I had to pay an extra $200 in tax bills, I might not have been able to afford the iPod.

    Higher taxes, for most all of us reading this online blog, mean we won’t be able to buy something else. Lower taxes mean we’ve prioritized one purchase (iPod, Comedy Central, Haab’s happy hour) over another (public safety, public parks, public education…).

    I have a young family. So I might value parks, safety and education over the iPod. I’m also moderate income, so this tax will cost me about as much as they iPod.

    I’ll never leave this town if it threatens my income. I will if it threatens my family’s quality of life which comes far more from public services than purchases.

    Vote for what you value.

  223. Inquiring minds ...
    Posted May 8, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    Preliminary results are showing both ballot issues going down to defeat by about a 2-1 margin.

    So, now that the election is over, is SCIT finally willing to unveil their plan to pay for vital City services without additional tax revenue?

    Inquiring minds want to know …

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] young people, are not.Those of you who are new to this, I’d encourage you to check out the cyber debate we held here on the site a few weeks ago, when it became evident that the leaders of the anti-tax initiative had no […]

  2. […] I was being sincere. • Patti Smith, Kurt Waugh and I did a pretty convincing reenactment of the Ypsi income tax debate that took place on this site not too long ago. • And, basically, we all talked shit about the […]

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