Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schreiber gave his State of the City address at the Ypsilanti City Council meeting at 7:00 p.m. on April 3 at Ypsilanti City Council Chambers.
Schreiber emphasized the city’s plan to deal with the financial distress of the last six years. The recently-adopted five-year financial plan, and the council’s approval of two proposed new taxes on the May ballot, are the key to resolving the problems, he said.
The first new tax, an income tax, would raise money by taxing residents 1 percent and non-residents 0.5 percent.
The second tax is a millage to pay of the Water Street debt.
“The five-year plan is a comprehensive response to falling property tax revenues and Water Street debt payments,” Schreiber said.
“The expenditure cuts of the last ten years cannot continue,” he said, citing cuts in federal spending, cuts in state spending and declining property tax revenues as causes of the city’s financial problem.
In addition to Ypsilanti citizens, Schreiber said the tax would apply to people who work for EMU.
“The income tax would affect EMU students, staff and faculty who earn money at EMU, because they too use city services,” Schreiber said. “Virtually every city income tax dollar paid by a city resident will be matched dollar-for-dollar by non-resident workers who also rely on city police, fire and other services.”
Schreiber said the income tax was the last option for Ypsilanti.
“Since the general fund property tax rate is already at the state constitutional maximum of 20 mills, a city income tax is the only other significant revenue source available to the city,“ he said.
The rest of Schreiber’s report listed the successes of the last year, including: progress on plans for a Washtenaw County Recreation Center on Michigan Avenue just east of downtown; renovations to buildings in the downtown and Depot Town; and new businesses, such as the Red Rock Barbeque, Model Cave, Mix Market, retail space and loft apartments in the Mellencamp Building.
Schreiber also listed the festivals and other special events, such as the Elvisfest and the Brewers’ Guild Beer Summer Festival, which EMU students can enjoy.
The Mayor’s report, complete with charts showing the need for, and impact of, the two new taxes, is available at: http://cityofypsilanti.com/Government/MayorCityCouncil/Communications/CouncilInformationletters.
The council’s continuing concern with the Ypsilanti Housing Commission, which has been cited by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for many shortcomings, was reflected in council’s decision to pull from the agenda appointing a new member to the YHC’s Board of Commissioners.
The council packet for the April 3 meeting included a memo from the YHC Board to the council that described the YHC’s steps toward coming into compliance with HUD’s standards.