Stories indexed with the term ‘Headlee roll back’

City Income Tax: Maybe Later


The city of Ann Arbor's CFO, Tom Crawford, prepares his laptop to make projections – which were blue, in both senses. (Photo by the writer.)

Ann Arbor City Council work session (Aug. 13, 2009): Towards the end of the city council’s Thursday evening work session on a possible city income tax, city administrator Roger Fraser asked the council for some direction. Here’s what he wanted to know: Should city staff place an item on the council’s Aug. 17 agenda that would allow the council to put the tax before the voters in November?

In response to Fraser, Marcia Higgins (Ward 4) said she wanted more dialogue on the exact percentage of the tax to be levied, even if the ballot language specified “up to 1%.” Carsten Hohnke (Ward 5) followed by saying it was clear that his colleague, Sandi Smith (Ward 1) had requested additional case-study scenarios for individuals and that he himself had wanted some cross-checking of commuter numbers with the city’s transportation staff. “We don’t do the community any favors by taking the conversation to the next level without more information,” Hohnke said. Sabra Briere (Ward 1) then advised that she thought an emotional reaction could be addressed, if people first became more knowledgeable – she herself had had problems correctly interpreting the charts in the city income tax study.

Finally, Tony Derezinski (Ward 2) declared, “Let’s cut to the chase. I think there’s a consensus we should not have it before us on Monday.” And no one disagreed with him.

Barring surprise, then, the Aug. 17 council meeting will end without the council authorizing the placement of a city income tax on the November ballot. That will be the last opportunity council has to make such a decision. It’s therefore almost certain that the ballot in November will not include a question on a city income tax for Ann Arbor. Based on council discussion during the work session, a city income tax will, however, eventually be given serious consideration as a May 2010 ballot issue.

In light of the prospect of a May 2010 ballot question, it’s worth noting the kinds of issues councilmembers raised with Fraser and the city’s CFO, Tom Crawford. We’ve also folded into this report an account of a recent meeting sponsored by the Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce about the proposed tax. [Full Story]

Library Plans to Lower Millage

Jan Barney Newman and Prue Rosenthal

Library board members Jan Barney Newman and Prue Rosenthal confer before Monday's board meeting at the Malletts Creek branch.

Ann Arbor District Library board meeting (April 27, 2009): The proposed 2009-10 budget for the Ann Arbor District Library would lower the tax rate that the library levies – a decision that’s in response to the stressed economy, board members said during their monthly meeting on Monday. The board will vote on the budget at its May 18 meeting.

The budget proposes levying 1.55 mills for the fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2009. Currently, the library levies 1.92 mills. (One mill equals $1 for every $1,000 of a property’s state equalized value, or SEV.) The library projects its fund balance will be $6.6 million at the end of this fiscal year (June 30, 2009) and that it will remain at that level next year – at about 52% of AADL’s $12.7 million operating budget.

Prue Rosenthal, the board’s treasurer, characterized the budget as “very conservative,” citing the economy and a concern for keeping taxes as low as possible while maintaining the library’s services. That means the library won’t be putting money into its capital building fund or fund balance, she said, “but we all believe that is the appropriate and right thing to do.” [Full Story]

County Board: Plan For Worst, Hope For Best

Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners (Feb. 18, 2009): Commissioners got another cold blast of economic reality at their most recent board meeting, as county staff laid out revenue projections for 2010-11 and asked for feedback about how cautious they should be in planning for the future. Pretty darn cautious was the general consensus among commissioners, saying it would be easier to deal with the budget if their projections proved too pessimistic than if they planned for higher revenue that never materialized.

County administrator Bob Guenzel and his staff also presented various scenarios for increasing revenues, as points of discussion, not recommendations. Those included a couple of options to raise or reapportion taxes that would require voter approval and appeared to have little traction among commissioners at this point. [Full Story]