Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Troy City Council public engagement sessions

Last Thursday night I attended one of the many public engagement sessions being offered by city council members.
Very interesting.
There were 12 people at my table. The woman to my left was very upset, like me, about all of the amenities we are losing, considering that we have small children who enjoyed the Jr. Naturalist's Club (gone), the library (gone), classes at the community center (gone next year?).
She asked everyone to take turns explaining how they feel about the library closing and what they would do to keep that and other amenities open.
Eight of us said we would do anything and freely raise our very low millage rate to save these amenities.
Two people said that they want to save services but don't trust the city.
One man, who said he voted No on the Feb 2010 millage because he knew a lot of what the city said was disengenuous at the time said that after listening to "these guys" (pointing at two anti-tax-at-any-cost fellows at the table) he would follow whatever the city says any time.
So what did our anti-tax folks have to say?
Well, that was very interesting. Councilman Wade Fleming was sitting at our table and helped me dispel some of the MYTHS these fellows were trying to forward to the folks at the table.
"We pay three times as much for our police department as Rochester Hills does!"
I asked Mr. Fleming, "Is that true?"
No, he said.
Another gentleman said, "So the DDA spent 2 million dollars and we could take that money and use it for the library."
"Is that true?" I asked Mr. Fleming.
"No," he said and explained that if the money isn't used for the DDA it goes back to the state.
The man who fronted the idea waved his hand at Mr. Fleming and said, "Ah, we can get it back." So, truth means nothing? Facts means nothing?
The men also mentioned that the police budget went up 7%.
Mr. Fleming said that was because they had moved staff around, making the city spokesperson half city, half PD, for example, which changed the look of the budget, but did not mean that police got 7% raises.
The men didn't care.
One of the men was asked how he really felt about taxes and our millage cap that means when property taxes fall our city revenue falls and the city can only make cuts. He replied that the city should just keep cutting, he doesn't care. Keep cutting till there's nothing left? Yes, he said.
"But when we pay for city services we benefit, it helps our property values, it helps our schools when Troy is appealing to families looking for homes," people said to him, begging him to understand.
"I don't care," he said. "And I'm going to come to every meeting to repeat my ideas," he said. 
That is what I mean when I say these people are "anti-tax-at-any-cost." 
Do you want THEM in charge?

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