The supporters of higher Ypsilanti taxes sent out an email blast to the media this week saying they want to debate and no one from the Stop City Income Tax and Vote No On Water Street Millage committee (SCIT) will respond.
This is simply a political ploy from a campaign desperate for attention.
The partisans advocating for this huge new 30% tax increase made no attempt to contact the SCIT campaign office via the campaign phone number 734-252-YPSI (9774), campaign email address SCIT@ypsi.com, or the mailing address 309 Oak St, Ypsilanti, Michigan, 48198. All of this information is clearly available on our campaign website www.StopCityIncomeTax.com and campaign materials.
Instead their “debate invite” was sent to a list of supporters on a Facebook page. Sending the invite as a Facebook posting is like dropping a letter in the gutter in front of the mayor’s house and then running to the press screaming, “See, the mayor refuses to meet with me.”
In January, at a public City Council meeting, Council Member Peter Murdoch argued for the earlier (May election) date, expressing the opinion that the case (for or against) could be made by then, and a desire “not to give the opposition even more time to organize.” He also said that in a November election “people who don’t really live here” would vote and might be harder to persuade. (Eastern Echo, January 11, 2012)
We agree with City Council Member Murdoch, the voters are informed on the issues and there have been plenty of opportunities to ask questions. The City Council has spent thousands of taxpayer dollars to host three town hall meetings in March and April to inform voters on the issues. Another town hall is scheduled next week. We asked if someone from our campaign would be allowed to respond to questions during these events and the City said no. So instead, we have had volunteers at each of these events handing out flyers and talking individually with voters.
We have written several times now how the City of Ypsilanti is spending more money and energy getting information out about the City Income Tax and Water Street millage then they are trying to sell Water Street. Well it gets worse. CB Richard Ellis was hired by the City to market and sell Water Street. If you go to the CBRE website and search for 48198, Water Street is nowhere to be found.
They do have an icon on Water Street but the description is for 9 acre industrial site next to Carter Lumber in the Township.
If you search for Ypsilanti and don’t put the zip, code you will find a listing for Water Street but the directions are wrong saying West Michigan rather than East Michigan.
Why hasn’t the city checked on this in the last 2 years? Oh wait we know why, they are more interested chasing grants and spending precious city resources on a Climate Action Plan and writing Planned Unit Development plans for for non-existent Water Street developers then they are in actually trying to sell Water Street.
Or perhaps the reason is because the City never renewed their contract with CBRE in over a year.
Turns out both of these are true.
Not only is there no contract with CBRE, CBRE wants to work out details on how giving away land for the rec center will affect their commission. CBRE apparently even offered to refund $70,000 if city renewed.
In the mail today was a copy of the City of Ypsilanti’s new Climate Action Plan Strategy for 2012. The planners and staff at City Hall are having a Climate Action Town Hall meeting on Mar 28. It is apparently more fun to come up with a Climate Action Plan than it is to come up with a Plan for Water Street. When is the City Council and staff going to make Water Street a priority?
It is with some irony the supporters of higher Ypsilanti taxes keep running around asking “What is your plan, man?” Well, here is the City’s Plan.
Their Plan, More Taxes
Buried in the text of green bike paths and solar power which are all good things, the City is proposing three NEW TAXES on city residents, businesses and neighboring communities. You didn’t read this wrong. These are taxes above and beyond the new City Income Tax and the new Property Tax Increase to pay for the Water Street fiasco already on the ballot on Tuesday, May 8. So that makes it Five New Taxes. So here they are.
Many people keep asking, what is Water Street and why does the City of Ypsilanti owe over $30 million on a land speculation deal gone horribly wrong. It is story about why City government should never get into the land speculation business and how consultants, planners, bond attorneys, and a very young and inexperienced city planning staff joined forces with a Mayor and City Council who wanted to transform a small town in Michigan. The result is a college town of just over 18,000 saddled with a crushing debt, threatening to lay off the police and fire department, unless voters agree to a 30% increase in taxes to pay for the Water Street fiasco.
The story is fascinating and it isn’t over. The city paid over $750,000 an acre for the 38 acre contaminated brownfield site next to City Hall along the Huron River and Michigan Avenue.
Today, a new Council led by a Mayor largely hand-picked by the previous mayor that got us so deeply mired in Water Street is now pushing to give 8 to 10 acres of the land to the County to build a Recreation Center. They want to site the Rec Center on the very best part of the commercial property right along the river and busy Michigan Avenue. That land giveaway will cost the citizens of Ypsilanti, over $7 million to build a rec center that won’t generate a single dollar in taxes.