Wait, they aren’t done, now they have more taxes planned

Ypsi’s New Fiscal Plan, a Tornado

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.

1. New City Income Tax and 2. Water Street Taxes. OK, these are both bad ideas, but we knew about these.

3. A new tax on companies that provide employee parking spaces. It isn’t enough Ypsilanti already has the highest property taxes in the county and want a City Income Tax on residents, employees, and businesses. Now they want to tax businesses for having parking spaces for their employees.

4. An Impervious surface tax for business and residents. What is an impervious surface, that is your roof or your driveway. If you have a roof over your head that doesn’t leak, you get to pay a new tax. That run down house the next block over with the collapsed roof, they won’t pay this new tax, their roof isn’t impervious.

In the same document, the City says they want to increase density in the community. Doh! That means more impervious surfaces. It is as if they haven’t quite thought this all through.

5. Regional tax sharing system that overrides home rule and stops the incentive for outward growth. Oh perfect, this is a tax on the success of our neighboring communities like the Township. A major point of our campaign is that regionalization and sharing services with our neighbors like EMU and the Township are key points of solving our fiscal challenges. The City releases a document today saying they want to pursue ways to tax the Township when they have a new business or development move in. That sure won’t help foster cooperation with our neighbors.

Besides new taxes, the City also wants to require any projects that get tax abatements must be LEED certified. LEED is a great idea but to mandate the requirement means another barrier and expense to actually getting development going at Water Street as the entire project is a tax abatement.

The City wants to install plug-in EV charging stations in downtown parking lots. Saline did this and they never get used. This means there is a parking space that never can be used because so few people drive EV cars. What’s next, a meter to charge people for the electricity? Never mind the fact that when the City re-striped the parking lots in Depot Town and Downtown to the new “planning standards” merchants lost over 40 parking spaces. So one more for an EV parking space will be hardly missed, not.

Then the City says they want to benchmark and be greener than Greensburg, Kansas. Greensburg is small town in the midwest devastated by a tornado sadly killing 13. The town has slowly been rebuilding since 2007 yet they have lost nearly half their population dropping from 1,574 in 2000 to 777 in 2010. They have been the model, and some would say the poster child how not to do Green development. Over $200 million has poured into Greensburg from the State and Federal government and insurance companies since the Tornado, all to rebuild the town. Yet the town still struggles.  See Construction costs drive more residents from Greensburg.

Still, if the first step in the City’s plan involves a Tornado, it may be time to write a new plan.

Read the City of Ypsilanti Climate Action Plan for 2012