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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Voters say yes to taxes -- The Oakland Press

I think a great irony in Troy is that our city manager recognized we were going to have a huge revenue problem (falling property values=falling property taxes=falling city revenues) very early on and tried to combat the shortfall early on. The outcome was that kooky anti-taxers convinced the people of Troy that the city was lying, rather than the truth, that the city tackling the problem early on.
That is why leaders and politicians all over the state congratulate Mr. Szerlag for his early recognition and his best practices.
TCU doesn't get it.
Howrylak doesn't get it.
Gosselin doesn't get it.
Fleming doesn't get it.
Glenn Clark is too busy smearing other Republicans to get it.
But residents of cities all around us are getting it.
Please Troy -- Let's all 'Get It' soon!
A great OpEd from the Oakland Press today...
When it comes to tax increases on Tuesday’s ballot, the anti-tax tea party influence was nowhere to be found.
Virtually every tax proposal in Oakland County was approved by voters in Tuesday’s election, regardless of the amount.
That goes for the relatively small one-third mill property tax increase for the library in Clawson to the gigantic 9.8-mill proposal in Hazel Park for police and fire.
Voters also approved the 5.4552-mill tax in Ferndale for general operations, the 4.9183-mill tax in Southfield for general operations, and two tax questions in Madison Heights for general operations and the library.
Voter approval of higher taxes wasn’t just limited to cities. Voters in Clawson School District voted for a first-year 1.3-mill tax increase for technology upgrades.
None of the votes could even be considered close.
Southfield voters barely blinked at a nearly 5-mill jump in property taxes. They approved it by a whopping 83.24 percent.
Hazel Park voters, now looking at a 9.8-mill jump for five years, didn’t even utter a gasp. They went for it by a 75.81 percent margin.
The closest local proposal was Ferndale’s 5.442-mill hike. But even that passed with nearly 53 percent approval.
Have county residents suddenly fallen in love with higher taxes? Hardly.
A 9.8-mill tax hike is enough to have the original Boston tea partiers spinning in their graves.
There are, however, a couple of overriding factors in the outcome of Tuesday’s votes on tax increases.
One is that property values have dropped significantly and, in most municipalities, revenue from local government property taxes has fallen with it. That leaves voters some wiggle room to increase their tax rates without significantly increasing their tax burdens in terms of money.
Another is that the handwriting is on the wall. For cities, state revenue sharing often used for public safety purposes has been pared for years, a trend that’s likely to continue while the state sorts out its own messy books.
Then there’s Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and the Republican-controlled Legislature. Little help is expected there. Snyder has proposed revenue sharing rewards to communities that engage in “best practices,” such as sharing services or consolidation.
Public schools, meanwhile, are facing per pupil funding cuts of several hundred dollars as part of Snyder’s budget proposals that likely are to be approved by the Legislature.
So there’s no hope from the state for monetary assistance.
Some municipalities also face the grim choice of closing their police or fire departments, or libraries, or consolidating with other communities, which brings up the concept of home rule.
Michigan’s constitutional concept of local home rule is the idea that local communities have the right and can best determine their own character and destiny. It’s also why Oakland County has 61 communities, 28 school districts, and 40-plus police departments.
Faced with consolidating or cutting police, fire or library services, voters on Tuesday in many Oakland County communities decided they’d rather keep all three, and perhaps their local character.
To do so, they were willing to pay for it.
And they were willing to skip the tea party.

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