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Monday, February 28, 2011

City resolution regarding State Senate Bill 34

Ah, yes. Reform is the buzzword of the day. So let's eliminate all personal property taxes in Michigan.
What harm could it do? 
All tax cuts are good, right?
City council passed this Feb. 28, 2011.

Resolution in Opposition to Senate Bill 34
WHEREAS, Senate Bill 34 proposes to eliminate all personal property taxes (“these taxes”) in the State of Michigan; and
WHEREAS, Senate Bill 34 establishes no revenue offset; and
WHEREAS, Revenue generated from these taxes in the City of Troy (“Troy”) accounts for $3.8 million in Fiscal Year 2010-11; and
WHEREAS, Troy relies on these taxes to provide essential and other services; and
WHEREAS, Troy, as a Michigan Home Rule City is mandated to provide essential services such as Police and Fire services; and
WHEREAS, The state-wide downturn has resulted in a loss $719 million in Troy’s taxable value in just the last two fiscal years; and
WHEREAS, It is estimated that taxable value will further decline by 10.5% in FY 2011-12; and WHEREAS, Troy’s State Shared Revenue has declined $2.7 million since State of Michigan FY 2001, creating a cumulative loss in State Shared Revenue of $15.9 million; and
WHEREAS, Troy has reduced its full-time staff by   20% (from 488 to 388) since FY 2004-05 which includes 10% in Police Department personnel and 15% in Fire Staff Officers; and
WHEREAS, Budget planning for FY 2011-12 is well underway and is based on estimated revenues that include these taxes.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED That the Troy City Council urges the State Legislature to oppose Senate Bill 34 and any other potential reduction in municipal revenue from the State which does not immediately provide for a revenue offset.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That this Resolution be transmitted to the State Senator John Pappageorge, Senate Finance Committee Chair, Senator Jack Brandenburg, State Representative Marty Knollenberg, the Oakland County Board of Commissioners and the Michigan Municipal League.

Playing to Win

From Sue...

For nearly three years, the residents of our city have been playing by a losing strategy crafted by the anti-tax coaches. Using their game book, a charter amendment was passed in 2008 that prevents city council from raising the operating millage in order to keep the city sustainable. An election last February that asked voters to increase the millage failed after the electorate was wrongly coached by the anti-tax crew that it would unjustly raise our taxes 29%. (In reality, it raised the operating millage portion of the total mill rate 29% -- but we’d only have gone from roughly 9 mills to 11 mills overall, and it would only have raised the average bill $100-200).

Just last November, Proposal 1 to form an independent library was defeated – in large part to the anti-tax strategy of placing three additional and very misleading ballot measures alongside the one viable proposal. Combine that with the “special teams” deployment of the Kempen petition and the Howrylak letter to voters, and the game was lost.

For nearly three years, our city has been losing ground with this anti-tax game plan crafted by TCU, Martin Howrylak and Edward Kempen. We’ve tried to maintain city streets in the winter by not raising revenue needed to do so. We’ve tried Mr. Kempen’s way of keeping our library open with no new taxes, and we’ve seen his petition fail in court. We’ve tried to stay afloat with Mr. Howrylak’s resolution to fund the library that was found last week to be incorrect, possibly unethical and ultimately useless. None of these plans and none of these people have been able to keep city services – like adequately plowed snow – sustainable while keeping our library open beyond May 1.

If you ask any U of M fan about spending three years playing with a losing strategy, you know that being coached by a loser doesn’t get you to the championship.

Troy needs a new game plan.

That game plan requires revenue. But it also requires an electorate willing to educate themselves about the reality of the situation. Good players go home and watch the films, read up on strategy and form a plan of action.

If you are ready to bring Troy to the championship, please inform yourself. There is another voice out there for you. TRUST (Troy Residents Unified for a Strong Troy) is a group of citizens who are non-partisan in philosophy and multi-partisan in membership. See them on Facebook. Share this blog. Get educated. Speak up at a council meeting.

And then play with winners next November.

Because we can no longer afford to be coached by losers...

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Local newspaper slams Troy Councilman Howrylak for LIBRARY CLOSURE...again

From a reporter who has been watching TCU and Mr. Howrylak for years. 
Bless him for telling the truth.
From the Feb. 28, 2011 Troy-Somerset Gazette

Are Troy taxes outrageous? No.

A history of the City millage rate in Troy (per the assessor's office). As can be seen, in tough times, the rate has occasionally gone up, and in good times the rate has dropped (16 times since 1973). Traditionally Troy residents and the City Council have done what was needed to protect our quality of life, and yet reduced the burden when it was not needed.
The problem now is that our millage rate was capped at 9.28 arbitrarily in 2008, which means in times of trouble, oh, say, like a recession, our council can't raise the rate temporarily to save services we need, like say, the library? 
So who put this tax cap on the ballot? Howrylak/TCU/Gosselin/Kempen et al. The engineers of the destruction of Troy.
Who voted yes for it? The people of Troy.
The thing the people of Troy didn't know was that whenever Troy people had the chance to vote on a millage, the same characters listed above would lie and cheat to defeat the vote.
Won't the people of Troy soon realize that when they said there was money for the library, they were WRONG and THAT is why we are losing the library?


I'm sure most of us have seen those game shows where contestants are offered a life line option -- the "phone a friend" chance to get help to find the answer.

We'd like you to phone-a-friend today. Actually, phone several.

1. Ask them what kind of city they really want. Share this entry with them. (click)

2. Share with them how certain anti-tax operatives do math. Share this entry with them. (click)

3. You could even show how long-time Troy observers who are not affiliated with any particular group see the antics of the anti-tax operatives. Share this entry with them. (click)

4. Maybe the friend you phone is a visual learner. Show them this chart (click) and this chart (click) and this picture that shows how our taxes have CONSISTENTLY DROPPED (click)over the years. Ask them if they prefer having the LOWEST TAXES around or the LOWEST LEVEL OF SERVICES.

5. Point them to the city website (click) and show them where to find the meeting agendas and archives (click). As an added bonus, that page gives the e-mail addresses of our entire council. They love hearing from us. Encourage your friends to share their thoughts on the state of our city with each and every council member as often as they feel necessary.

6. In fact, tell your friends to pick specific council members and tell them what they think of their performance (click) in the service of our city (click) week after week (click).

7. Maybe once your phone-a-friends do some research, they might reach the same conclusions some of us have (click).

There's no easy answer

But if we all phone a friend (or 10...20...30...), people might start asking more questions of our city leaders and of themselves.

When people start asking questions...they find answers. Those answers spur action. I'm willing to bet those of us who started asking questions several months ago would rather not know all we know about the state of our fair city or its leaders, both elected and appointed. I never expected to know as much about the finances of our city, the comparisons of our tax bill or the inner workings of a body politic as I do now.

I just knew that Troy worked well.

Now it doesn't.

Phone a friend and share this with them. Maybe they can join us in fixing Troy.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Property Tax

My husband went to the seminar that Knollenberg held today on fighting your property valuation. He went because of our rental in Southfield (now that city has HIGH taxes). It was packed!

Or are there 3 choices?

1. Raise taxes to save the library
2. Close the library. 
3. Place millages on the ballot and convince the people to invest in services they value.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The impossible choice

A stolen quote from the TRUST site:
The two things no Troy City Council member wants to do: raise taxes and close the library. But they have to do one or the other.

No Bull-oney

In this week's Somerset Gazette, there appeared an op-ed piece written by James Kufta. In his piece, Mr. Kufta contends that it is often more difficult to disspell a rumor or illogical belief than it is to convince others to believe it.

I support his logic. Savvy advertising proves it. All it takes is a catchy slogan or visual on a hot topic to quickly sway a consumer or voter to one side or another. Humans are increasingly lazy and far more apt to buy into something short and sweet rather than taking time and effort to research the facts.

Consider last winter's popular lawn sign: VOTE NO ON 29% TAX INCREASE! Well, who WOULDN'T vote no on THAT??? At the time, my total tax bill was close to $5,000/year, and I SURE didn't want to make it $6450! The problem is that sign wasn't wholly accurate. Granted, the brains behind it will challenge you to get out your calculator and see if the 1.9mill increase isn't, in fact, a 29% increase on the portion of your tax bill that represents operating millage, thusly increasing it from 4.someting to 6.something, and therefore...kind of right. But our total tax bill would NOT have gone up 29%. And they knew that.

They just hoped you didn't.

Back to Mr. Kufta...sure, he used a choice word or two in advancing his idea that certain operatives in our city's battles have been employing questionable tactics. But there are only so many labels you can give an obvious ploy. Mr. Kufta called it like he saw it.

And that's no bull.

The Great Debate

From Sue...

Several weeks ago, Troy city councilman Martin Howrylak put forth a resolution to fund the Troy Public Library. The resolution looked surprisingly (not) like a mailing received in many households that was authored by Troy Citizens United (TCU). The merits of Mr. Howrlak’s resolution were discussed at length during a special session of the Troy city council – webcasts are available for download. Any viewer can see Mr. John Lamerato explain why he feels Mr. Howrylak’s resolution isn’t worth the paper on which it was printed.

Now, we can debate these numbers ad nauseum (in fact, I believe we have…). We can debate philosophical budget procedures and theories as to whether a city should spend fund balance NOW or save it for known revenue shortfalls. We could debate how a councilman could put forth a resolution with a demand for answers “no later than Feb. 21, 2010” and not proofread his own work. But those debate topics get us nowhere. The fact is…I DESPERATELY hoped that Mr. Howrylak’s resolution actually did RESOLVE something. I WANTED him to be right. It would be nice to be able to defend a home-grown figure, a Troy boy doing good for the citizens of this great city. But Mr. Howrylak, you let us down mightily…again.

No, the debate we need to have should focus the ethics and motives of a councilman who appears to be working AGAINST solvency in his very own city. See, I contend that if Mr. Howrylak had only taken a little more time and finesse in presenting his resolution, and a LOT LESS hubris and petulance, we might be somewhere. If he had truly cared about saving the library…about keeping our city solvent…he would have taken the time to explain his numbers. He could show us all how he arrived at them using the data from the three-year budget adopted last June as compared to the more current budget updates that had been provided to the entire council in November..

Further, he should have explained his logic and plan for the future if the city had adopted this resolution. How would he account for those predicted shortfalls? Did he still back a millage as he stated last November – the day AFTER he helped defeat Proposal 1? Does he see the dire revenue shortage the city is in, and if so…what thoughts does he have to increase revenues?

At the council meeting where this resolution was introduced, Mr. Howrylak said he would have loads of questions for Mr. Lamerato in order to gain further information as to why his resolution wasn’t workable. It was revealed in the next council meeting that he and Mrs. Robin Beltramini HAD met with Mr. Lamerato. What did they learn? Did he share THAT? How did it change his resolution other than asking for an extension?

We got none of those answers. We are left only with what is clearly evident in the councilman's actions during his time in office:

-- He is against tax abatements that would entice companies to come to Troy.

-- He was in support of a Charter Amendment to prevent the council from levying operating millages in dire situations.

-- He helped block both the Feb. 2010 millage increase and Proposal 1 to form an independent library.

All of this leads us logically to the debate we need to have now: why is Martin Howrylak hell bent on bankrupting Troy?

A sad truth from my sister

She lives in Redford, I live in Troy.
She wrote on my FB post about cities losing services:
I wonder how long it will take before the poor communities that vote for all our millage hikes will come to the rescue of the needy rich.
Is that as funny as it is tragic?
I'm not laughing.
This week I finally have to accept that Troy's library is closing soon, so I'm shopping for a library that I can pay for access to their books, space and services.

The libraries in wealthy communities will not help us. Birmingham-Baldwin, Rochester Hills, Bloomfield Township, and West Bloomfield have all announced that Troy residents are not welcome. And in fairness, if we don't care enough about our own library to fund it, why SHOULD they help us?

But what libraries will let us come? Royal Oak, Clawson and maybe Sterling Heights.
Hmmm. I hate to admit my big sister is wise, but there you have it.

Anti-city government folks seeing conspiracies again

Nearly a week before this past Monday's city council meeting I knew that council had no interest in considering one of 4 ideas offered in a letter by City Manager John Szerlag. 
The option causing all the hyperventilating was that city council could enact a Michigan State Library Law option to levy up to 1 mill to create an independent public library. They could have done it with 4 votes. 
But it was clear to those of us who actually care about the library that no one on council was interested in considering this option, let alone bringing it to a resolution or vote. It was dead before arrival. Still I begged them to do it. No reply.
Our friends at TCU didn't know that. Why? Because just like their hero Mr. Howrylak, when they see something they don't like they don't ask questions--they apparently plot, plan and write epistles in their basements, but they never ask.
Oh wait, I stand corrected. on the FB page on Sunday they went nuts. Some admitted writing to council. Some apparently did demand Councilwoman Kerwin vote down this terrible resolution (even though it wasn't a resolution). What did she reply? That there was no resolution on the table.
That whipped their conspiracy-sniffing noses into a frenzy. They sent out a letter saying that Mr. Szerlag had "buried the memo" in the agenda (shoot, everything is buried in the agenda!). They basically claimed that because Ms. Kerwin said it wouldn't be voted on, that was PROOF it WOULD be voted on.
So what happened Monday? Sadly, nothing. They skipped over the issue, as it was nothing but a memo. As Ms. Kerwin said, there was no resolution on the table, nothing to discuss, nothing to vote on, unless someone on council WANTED to. And none of them did. For all their different reasons, no one was willing to save the library on Monday night.
So the TCU folks should be thrilled! Their boy on council, Mr. Howrylak, didn't raise the issue. Nor did their foes. They must be excited!
But no.
Now on another website all the same characters, but with a different group name, are trying to whip up more ridiculous conspiracy theories. Now it's an "infamous memo" and they claim that Ms. Kerwin denied the memo existed (no, she denied it was a resolution).
They claim it's all "Bull-smoke." That is true about their conspiracy nonsense, I would say, but typical. These folks are masters at dis-informing people in Troy (see my posts in October about all the lies in their 4-page, anti-library-funding mailer). 

Their constant game plan? 
  • Create disrespect for council and city government so people don't believe anything they say (even though we NEED to hear the data, numbers and facts to figure out the TRUTH)
  • Dis-inform political anti-taxers, who get all riled up
  • Dis-inform people who are barely paying attention with utterly kooky nonsense that sounds so crazy, it must be true, right? Because who would LIE about such things?
Their goals?
  • Make Howrylak mayor this November, and fill the council with folks like Kempen and Daniels (yikes!)
  • Break all unions in Troy govt
  • Dismantle this once great city to save a few extra property tax bucks
What they will achieve IMHO?

  • Send Troy into receivership with their wacky plans that ignore the real numbers because their GUT feelings are more important than the FACTS
  • Never allow the library open again
  • Outsource police dept to Oakland County Sheriff
  • Close the aquatics center
  • Destroy our property values, as no one will want to move here
  • Hurt Troy schools, as they are making Troy particularly unattractive to home buyers with children, which will mean fewer kids in our schools, thus fewer state dollars for all of our kids.
If that's the Troy you want, keep listening to and believing Howrylak/Kempen/Daniels/ TCU/Gosselin. 
And good luck to you.

On Mr. Howrylak telling former police captain Dane Slater to "Man up"

snicker snicker
hee hee hee
haw haw haw
snicker snicker snicker

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Free Press asks: As budget cuts loom, what could your community do without? Firefighters?

Today's Free Press article:
After years of cutting budgets, cities across metro Detroit are looking at making the steepest -- and in some cases most extreme -- cuts they've ever made in response to Gov. Rick Snyder's plan to sharply trim revenue-sharing money that local communities collect from the state.
Allen Park officials voted Tuesday to lay off all 26 members of the city fire department if they can't get the union to agree to concessions they say are sorely needed to keep the city solvent.
The City of Romulus, where voters rejected a millage proposal Tuesday, now is looking at closing its library.
State Treasury data from 2009 -- the most current available -- show more than two dozen communities in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties were rated as being under fiscal watch, one notch below the more serious fiscal stress category. Among them: Troy, Southfield, Livonia, Farmington, Novi, Royal Oak, Hazel Park, Lincoln Park and Riverview.
Gov. Rick Snyder has proposed eliminating $300 million in revenue sharing, $256 million of which goes to communities in metro Detroit. Local governments across Michigan would then compete for a $200-million pot of money, though the criteria for getting it aren't yet clear.
"You can only cut so much before it starts cutting into the bone," said Mayor Jim Fouts of Warren, which stands to lose $3.3 million under Snyder's plan.
 Libraries at risk
The mood was somber Wednesday at the Romulus Public Library, as patrons learned it could close after voters overwhelmingly rejected a 2.75-mill tax Tuesday.
"I was hurt because the library is essential to all of our lives," said Marie Charles, a 35-year Romulus resident. "The library is the gateway to the world, and without books, there is no gateway."
"It could be a really tough time ahead," said Romulus Mayor Alan Lambert. "I don't know who is going to move into a community without a library, recreation center or parks."
Troy -- Oakland County's most populous city -- will no longer have a public library as of 5 p.m. May 1, after city officials declined to spare it earlier this month.
"It could be that the majority of residents just want a place to live that is inexpensive, and quality of services takes a backseat to the millage rate," City Manager John Szerlag said in a Feb. 16 memo to the City Council.
read more here

Troy is the new Highland Park?

Well, one thing this experience teaches you, that once one reporter gets it wrong, they all follow suit.
Bonnie Caprara failed to mention in her article yesterday that 5 city council members (NOT 4) refused to address Mr. Howrylak's flawed option to save the library with money that has already been designated to fill holes in future budgets. And if Troy is indeed, as the Free Press says this morning, a city "on watch" for failure, well, perhaps Mr. Howrylak needs to start doing his homework before the meetings and stop wasting time finding out what he doesn't know *live* for us all to see.
Anyway, here's an article from MLive -- more press laughing at us for not being able to keep out flipping library open.
Troy Library will close April 30, or Troy is your new Highland Park
Troy is not the first metro Detroit community to close its public library. Highland Park shuttered the McGregor Public Library in 2002.

But Troy, unlike Highland Park, is an affluent upper middle-class suburb. It’s not the kind of place where one expects budget shortfalls will close a library. 

Good municipalities spend property tax revenue on services that provide value to residents. That’s why the Grosse Pointes’ relatively high tax rates – in exchange for private waterfront parks, first-class schools and libraries – don’t hurt property values while Detroit’s relatively high tax rates – in exchange from broken ambulances and non-functioning street lights – are an anchor on the city’s real estate market.

It will be interesting to see if Troy’s property values are affected by the loss of this usually standard municipal service. Troy’s millage rates slightly higher than Bloomfield and Birmingham, so the library closure probably won’t yield any significant competitive advantage on taxes.

On May 2, what library can you use?

When the Troy Public Library closes its doors to the public on Sunday, May 1 at 5pm, where can you go?
You can use the Royal Oak Public Library, for $100 per person, per year (hey, that's more than Proposal 1 woulda cost!).

What services will the Royal Oak Public Library provide to Troy cardholders when the Troy Public Library closes?When Troy closes their library then all reciprocal agreements between Troy and other surrounding libraries (members of The Library Network), become null and void. The library records of all Troy residents in the TLN shared system will be blocked effective May 2, 2011, the day after the projected closure of the Troy Public Library. Royal Oak Public Library does sell non-resident cards and a Troy resident can receive library services from the Royal Oak Public Library by purchasing a non resident card for $100. ROPL does not honor other non-resident cards issued by other libraries.
What can you get at Rochester Hills on May 2? Nothing.
What services will Rochester Hills Public Library (RHPL) provide if the Troy Public Library closes?
Essentially none. Troy residents will still be allowed to enter RHPL and browse its collections, for all members of the public have that right. Troy residents will not be able to check out materials, register for programs—including the summer reading program—or receive a number of other services.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Library Resources to Help You Save Money

from Metro Parent Magazine (Detroit)

Public libraries in southeast Michigan are a great pool of information for the entire family, from kids to teens to parents

Still think of libraries as quaint, quiet book nooks? Think again. Today's public libraries are bustling centers of information, from employment assistance to downloadable e-books. And, with finances tight for many parents, they're also an amazing hub for free services and resources.
One Michigan standout is the Adrian Public Library, located 30 miles southwest of Ann Arbor. Renovated in 2009, this modern downtown spot sports a teen area, small business space and even a cafĂ©, run by a local small business. It won the Michigan State Librarian’s Excellence Award in 2010.
Here, director Carol Souchock shares some of the ways your hometown public library could save your family some serious cash.

For younger kids

  • The events – oh, the events! Engaging story times are specially tailored for certain age groups and can include crafts, snacks and other surprises. Or stop by for a movie, trivia nights, music, magic and puppet shows, live animal appearances – the list goes on. Browse our Calendar for library events all over town!
  • Computer fun. Many terminals now offer screen games with a learning twist. At Adrian, for example, two early-literacy stations have 30-plus games in English and Spanish primo for the younger set.
  • Special space. Kid-geared areas for exploration give young students a place to study, read or just hang out.
  • Puzzles and games. Explore board games, build a masterpiece out of LEGOs or a tackle a classic jigsaw. Check with your library to see what sorts of fun is in store.

For tweens and teens

  • Hang out. Dedicated spots where chat and study is welcome? It's a growing trend in libraries like Adrian, which boasts a Teen Zone. Special tween and teen geared events also add social spark.
  • Grab a graphic novel. Novels are hardly the only paperbacks in store. Libraries are stocking these illustrated tales like never before – including many of the latest.
  • Wii gaming events. The popular, get-off-your-butt Nintendo consoles have found their place, too. Check with your library to see what's on-site and/or available to borrow.
  • Free Internet. It's a simple but serious perk. For school studies, research, gaming; you name it, it's there. In growing cases, so is the ability to link in your laptop or iPad with WiFi.
  • Teen Advisory Board. Want to see a new service, program or resource? Join one of these to make your voice heard.

For adults

  • Get cultured. Art exhibitions frequently rotate through library galleries. For a little personal perspective, visit your library to access AncestryLibrary Edition – primo for piecing together family history.
  • Media goods. Check out a new novel as a book, book on CD, Playaway – even downloadable eBook or eAudiobook (check for availability). Magazines are on-hand, too, if you've cut back on home subscriptions.
  • School yourself. Use LearningExpress Library online to improve your math and English skills ¬– or study for the ACT, SAT, GED. Or learn how to speak a new language with a book, CD or DVD.
  • Job prep. Get ready for a job interview. Check out book or DVD and use online databases like Gale's Business and Company Resource Center.
  • Cash considerations. Browse product reviews in Consumer Reports for big purchases. Tighten your budget or save on energy with library resources. Heck – even learn to fix your car using the Chilton Auto Repair database.
  • Movie night. Why spend a dime? Check out the DVD collection available at your library.

Real leadership

The library we are all arguing over now would not exist if 5 Troy City Commissioners had not overruled the anti-tax, anti-library people of the 1960s, and built the darned thing anyway.
Over 40 years ago, when the Troy Public Library opened, it was a tiny corner in the high school library. The city commissioners and citizens of the time knew that Troy needed more than that.
Twice the city tried to get the people to vote yes for a bond and then a charter amendment to fund the library... and the people, short-sightedly, voted no. However, the 1968 Troy City Commission would not let that stand. So they wrote and approved a resolution to issue library bonds in order to raise 475 thousand dollars to build Troy’s first real library. Of the 5 commissioners present, only one voted no. So they overruled the citizens of Troy and built the first Troy Public Library building. Then the whole library was housed in today’s children’s section.
They had some guts. They did the right thing.
Fourteen years later the people showed their support, too. In 1982 Troy citizens voted nearly 2-to-1 for $2 million dollars to build a 35,000 square foot addition, to make the library the size it is today.
I guess they were the greatest generation—these people who had the courage to build up rather than tear down, to be LEADERS of the people rather than followers.
Because sadly, we stand here today, with less than 3 months before our hard-fought-for library closes its doors to the public. N one is willing to budge, to compromise, to make any concession to save this library.
We have magic numbers of funds that don’t exist, posing as an answer. Won’t work.
We have a ridiculously low tax millage rate in Troy, yet the anti-tax crowd people act like we are taxed heavily. They use their dis-information campaigns to make people look down on our city government and distrust those who are TRYING TO SAVE the city. But the uniformed won’t listen. It’s easier to blame the city and save a few bucks now (that will cost us dearly in the long-run).
And those who dis-inform won’t budge, because keeping our millage rate absurdly low is more important than the education of our children and the jobseeker support for our unemployed.
Four city council votes on the Michigan Library Law option to open an independent library, with all-important dedicated funding, will save the library, but city council has no guts for that either.
If you don’t know, people, even journalists here in Troy and throughout the area are starting to notice this silliness, this shame of ours. A section of a Ferndale newspaper OpEd from Sunday:
While Ferndale can take great pride in its support of the library -- it is astounding that just a few miles away, the city of Troy is getting ready to shut down its library. Various plans and millage proposals to save the library have failed, and unless a lifeline is found quickly, the library will shut its doors in June. That is shameful. Troy is a major, fairly affluent city. But the anti-tax movement there appears to be adamant and will not support the library. And with each day, the chances of saving the Troy library grow dimmer. But that is Troy's problem — and its disgrace.
Who cares to distance themselves from this disgrace?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

OK - Idea time

So many love to post.
Here goes.
Please give ideas on how to save the library.
Try to stick to facts.
Try to be nice (I will too)
And maybe, all you anonymous people, could you just add a fake name or color or number or something to your comment so a dialogue is even possible? It might seem simple to you, but when I have 5 anonymi demanding a response, well, it isn't easy.

Maybe this is something we can all agree on...

The smooth dialogue in Troy...
Argument or contradiction?

Snow Removal

Thanks to my neighbors voting down the millage increase last year, I don't have to go to Cedar Pointe this year. It was a thrill ride just getting out of the sub this morning. I also got stuck last evening returning home from the City Council meeting. Thanks to the young man who stopped to help me out.

It was sobering to hear Mary Kerwin say the city has spent almost all of the snow removal budget for the year (and it is only February!).

Don't be shy

Dear Readers,
Thank you so much for reading this blog.
Please, if you have something to add, don't be shy. You can either post to the blog yourself, or send a post to and we will put it up.
Thank you for the 26,000 hits we have had since October, 2010.

Lies of omission

Among the many things I have been accused of on this blog is lying by omission. I so appreciate that one, because it's a good way to explain Mr. Howrylak's claim that he can save the library with $1.7 million in "undesignated funds" and four more paragraphs of words containing no numbers. 
A financial person explained to me yesterday that Mr. Howrylak would be fired, if he had a real job, for basing a city's future security on actuarial tables. That's interesting. Well, Mr. Howrylak left out something else--half the facts.
In his resolution, Mr. Howrylak listed all the good financial news the city has heard, or prognosticated, in recent months. What he left out was kinda important too.

  • He left out that the $1.7 million dollars is no longer undesignated, rather it has been designated to plug holes in the budget made by dropping revenues over the next two fiscal years.
  • He left out ANY MENTION of the $1.49 million drop in revenues the city announced at an open council meeting last fall. I made a mental note of those LOSSES. Mr. Howrylak pretends he did not. 
  • He left out any mention of the fact that state revenue sharing is going to be cut dramatically, which will be a further multi-million dollar hit to our budget.

Yet last night, there he sat, sticking by his numbers. All the questions he threatened to bring back to the table vaporized. Nothing left but a quivering, petulant lower lip and the lie that his numbers added up.

Dear Ms. DeBacker:

Last night you asked why it was that the streets surrounding City Hall and the Police Department were cleared of snow down to wet pavement while other areas of the city were still snow covered less than 24 hours after the largest snowfall we've had this year.

Did you wait for the answer this time, or did you leave the council meeting after speaking?

Mrs. Kerwin answered with what I believe to be the most obvious answer to this question -- an answer that I just cannot understand that YOU would not have figured out, given the very sharp mind and skills you've told us that you possess.'s because the POLICE drive those roads and need to have clear and safe access to get to US when there's an issue.

Did you want someone else to be able to get out first? The pizza guy, maybe? Jimmy John's sandwich boy?

Captain Obvious

P.S. I'm gonna throw this out there, and I know it's a crazy one...but I betcha the DPW lot was clear, too. I suppose we could ask them to lift their plows as they exit their parking lot if that would make you feel better.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

This is why Troy is the laughing stock of Michigan

Those TCU wacky fear-mongers are at it again. And remember for years to come, that we will not have a library in Troy because of the TCU-Troy Citizens United-and Martin Howrylak.
Mr. Szerlag included a list of options in the current city council meeting agenda to keep the library open. I would love to see city council use the most viable one--They could, according to Michigan State Library Law, vote with a simple majority to raise our ridiculously low millage rate by 1 mill to 10.28 (it would be the 5th lowest in Oakland County rather than the 3rd lowest of 19 cities). Voila - we have a library.
But no. The lying hystrionics have officially commenced. Here's the letter on their FB page. And as you read it, keep James Kufta's article on TCU Bullshit in mind. And see why people are so mad.
Council emails more on Feb 21 council meeting

by Troy Citizens United on Sunday, February 20, 2011 at 10:32pm
Subj: TROY TAX HIKE to be passed Feb 21? No - there's not even a resolution on the table.
Dear Fellow Concerned Troy Taxpayer:
At their next meeting this Monday night, February 21, the Troy City Council is considering passing a PERMANENT TAX INCREASE of up to 1 mill for the library.  Not true. It was a mild suggestion from Mr. Szerlag. Incredibly, they would do this WITHOUT A VOTE OF THE PEOPLE OF TROY.  Yes, because state law allows it, if they so chose. This is exactly what the voters defeated only 3 months ago! Indeed, voters have said no to tax increases in two elections in less than a year! Because the liars at TCU told them there was a way to have a library with no taxes WHICH IS NOT TRUE.
This tax increase will be permanent. No it would be year-to-year. It cannot come up for a renewal vote of the people because the people won’t be allowed to vote on it in the first place. Now you are a lawyer.  This might be allowed under an old 1877 library state law that is still on the books. Yes, it IS ALLOWED UNDER LAW - As a matter-of-fact, Deb DeBacker spoke about it on Friday to a reporter for today's Oakland Press article. So they have known about this for days. No clear legal justification has been offered. Um, how about the desire to save the library.
We dug out the memo from City Manager John Szerlag that he buried in a meeting agenda item.  It wasn't buried - we all found it easy enough. His memo is attached to this email.  He suggests that on February 21 council “pass a resolution increasing the millage rate up to one mill” and to “take immediate action (tonight).” He didn't recommend they hurry, he said if they want to do it they would have to get started as there is very little time to change the budget to save the library!!!!! Mr. Szerlag wants this done with virtually NO NOTICE to the public, and to have it done immediately, WITHOUT THE PUBLIC HAVING A CHANCE TO VOTE ON IT.  Rem,ember, it doesn't require the people's vote! Notice his memo is dated only a few days ago on February 16.
This is proposed even though at the February 7 meeting, we learned cash reserves came in at $1.7 million more than budgeted, and a pension contribution at $0.4 million less.  Every penny they are claiming here was discredited by the city and every single newspaper in town! These numbers are horse hockey (or BS if you listen to Mr. Kufta. This unanticipated $2.1 million extra cash flow would fund the library through June 30, 2012 - with no affect on other city operations.  We urge you oppose this tax increase as follows:
** Email or phone the Mayor and council right away.  There is a group of tax increase supporters who were apparently leaked information about this tax hike scheme.  No, The Oakland Press reporter told Deb DeBacker on Friday -- she responded to it fools! We hear they are actively emailing council members.  
** Attend this city council meeting at City Hall at 7:30 PM on Monday, February 21.  If possible, speak out against this tax hike during the public comment session. This is the absolute last chance to save the library.
**Pass this information on to others.
We apologize for the short notice, but remember, this has been sprung on all of us as a very unwelcome surprise. Why didn't Deb DeBacker tell you on Friday? And Dave Lambert wrote about it on Friday as well 

Thanks so very much,
Troy Citizens United