The city of Ypsilanti will ask voters on May 8 if two proposals to increase the city’s revenue should be implemented. The first is a city income tax of at least 0.5 percent to be levied on anyone working in the city. The second is a millage of about 5.5 mills, or 0.55 of a cent, for debt accumulated through the Water Street project.
For a variety of reasons, Steve Pierce, of Stop City Income Tax, thinks the ballot proposal is bad for Ypsilanti. Stressing that he speaks for himself and not for his organization, Pierce said that the ballot language is not intellectually honest.
“They say, in the ballot language, the average is 5.5, yes that’s over the full life of the loan, what they don’t tell you, is that within five years, that millage goes from 4.94 to 7.1,” Pierce said. “I think that’s a 35 percent increase.”
Pierce said he thinks Ypsilanti already has high property tax values and that if the ballot proposal passes, the tax increase, on average, will be about 30 percent more for people who live within the city.
Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schreiber acknowledges that Ypsilanti has a tax rate 50 percent higher than Ann Arbor, but also said Ann Arbor residents pay more in taxes because their property values are much higher.
In his April 3 state of the city address, available on the City of Ypsilanti website, Schreiber mentioned Eastern Michigan University.
“This tax that is being proposed as we’re going to get EMU to pay their fair share,” Pierce said of the ballot proposal, since EMU is exempt from paying property taxes to the city of Ypsilanti.
Pierce said targeting EMU employees is a mistake and that every semester EMU brings new people into the community, people who might decide to live in Ypsilanti.
Mayor Schreiber said the decision to live in Ypsilanti is a very personal one. He and his wife decided to live here because they wanted their children to grow up in a diverse and historic environment.
Gary Mundy, a computer science major, said the ballot proposal would not prevent him from living in Ypsilanti if he wanted to.
Mundy lives in Riverrain Apartments, and works on campus at the E-zone, so he would be taxed by the city under the proposal. Mundy however, said he will not be voting on May 8.
“We all live here, we all work here, Ypsi is a very special place,” Pierce said. “Maybe there are some things that all sides can agree on.”