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Cutting Through the Propaganda

CUTTING THROUGH THE PROPAGANDA ON BALLOT PROPOSALS

In sifting through all the propaganda supporting or opposing the state ballot proposals, I finally figured out how to vote.  It wasn’t easy.  I had to examine who stood to gain what and who was paying for what propaganda.  It got me thinking about our own 2 local proposals. 

There are four of us standing up to oppose 2 increases in taxes in Grosse Pointe Woods.  We all own pretty nice homes in Grosse Pointe Woods and have been here for decades.  Do you really think we want fewer Police on the street or want to close the pool or want our roads to crumble?  Of course not!  What could we possibly gain by reducing public safety or allowing our roads to remain in disrepair? 

Those who want you to vote in favor of these tax increases stand to gain plenty.  For one thing, they won’t have to make any cuts to parties or anything else for that matter.  It appears to be all about the employees and not about the residents, including this Mayor and Council who behave as if they are employees of the city and not guardians of the taxpayers’ money.  They are there to represent you!  If Headlee is overridden and taxable values increase, do you really suppose you will ever see any tax cut?  Have you ever seen a tax cut? I haven’t.

As for the road bond, it all sounds good until you think about the 10 years they have to spend it.  Why not do it for a shorter period of time in case taxable values go up?  That way, your tax dollars can be spent on the roads and there would be no need for the bonding and this additional millage.   

We are hearing that the city is threatening to cut police and close the municipal pool if you don’t vote the way they want you to vote.  Baloney!  If this city council is so cocky that they propose any such cuts, boot them out of office in November 2013.  There is NO reason for such cuts except to punish you for not voting with them.

We used the city’s own data to show that there is no multi-million dollar decrease in revenue as of March 2012 when the city comptroller said in no uncertain terms that there was a deficit of $664,000.  NOT $2.5 million.   Where did that figure come from?  By March 2012, the assessments were already finalized.  The city comptroller knew exactly what the shortfall would be and announced it at the public hearing on the budget which we attended and at which we spoke.  We identified cuts that we’ve identified for years that were never made which would have taken care of this budget deficit.  None of these cuts affect Police or recreation. None of these cuts affect the taxpayers.

So while you’re sifting through proposals, think about it.  What in the world do we have to gain?  Unnecessary spending needs to be cut BEFORE asking for more money.  Don’t let them scare you.  Look at our charts- these are THEIR figures not ours.  And while you’re at it, ask them to explain how the shortfall goes from $664,000 in March 2012 to 2.5 million in June 2012?  

Lisa Pinkos Howle

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Lisa Pinkos Howle October 04, 2012 at 02:06 PM
This is from the GPW website (see page 6) http://www.gpwmi.us/Docs/Departments/Finance/InformationPresentation.pdf In her PowerPoint presentation to the citizens and online at the above address, the GPW city comptroller says: • the 2012 millage rate is 15.9261 including solid waste and EMS • the taxable value of the city for 2012 is $604,800,000. Taxable value ($604,800,000) x the millage rate (15.9261) = $9,632,105 (revenue generated from taxes) The comptroller multiplies: Taxable value ($604,800,000) x the millage rate (15.9261) and somehow comes up with $8,462,411 (revenue generated from taxes) This is a huge $1,169,694 difference. Please go to her presentation and check her figures. If there is some explanation- it sure isn't clear to the voters and should be made crystal clear.
Nancy Hames October 04, 2012 at 02:54 PM
It is not possible to get truthful information from the city or from the yes and yes folks. Here is the link to the website the State of Michigan mandates all cities populate with truthful financial information. http://munetrix.com/Michigan/Municipalities/01-SEMCOG/Wayne-County/City/Grosse-Pointe-Woods#
Popeye October 04, 2012 at 04:11 PM
Mr. Frapples Yes, look around the City. Do you notice owner-occupied homes converted into rentals properties? Grosse Pointe Woods needs to attract young families. Would you choose to invest in property with these additional tax burdens? These tax increases will result in further reductions in property values. Many property owners are already underwater with their homes. Higher taxes???? Go Figure How many seniors will choose to move? You must be one of the lucky 50% of college graduates that has actually found a job in your field. Save your money. You will need these funds to pay off the national debt and citizens medical bills. How about funding your retirement? Do you really believe SSI will be there for you? These millages are examples of excessive government spending. I would hope that residents of all ages would advocate for an efficient, responsive local government that is inclusive of all citizens..
Popeye October 04, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Thank You. Very helpful.
Popeye October 04, 2012 at 05:44 PM
It is my understanding that the City still has about .4 of a mill that they can levy under the Headlee cap? They will not verify if this is true. Does you know if this is true? This means the General Fund millage increase is not 1.85 mils but over 2.0 mills. Although Ms. Barr and the Power Pointe Presentation stated there was about a 29% decline in property values, they do not discuss the 33% increase in General Fund millage increases that the Council has levied on the taxpayers over the last 5 years. I can't decide if this omission is deceptive or misleading. It is be very helpful if City Officials would be willing to explain their numbers.
Erwin M. Fletcher October 04, 2012 at 06:53 PM
Katherine, thank you once again for another stirring defense of the two millages coming up in November. The Pete Walmeir's and Lisa Pinko-Howls of the world are caught up in a fansaty world of their own making and are merely trying to force the rest of us to live in it. Intelligent people realize it takes money to provide things that the public wants. These two relics of a by-gone era need to step aside and let serious people lead our city to a brighter future. Any rise in property taxes may force these two clowns out of the city, an ancillary benefit that I think we could all rally behind.
christopher October 04, 2012 at 08:19 PM
Gloria, I admit and apologize that i will throw a jab out of spite when i feel lies are being spread. The bottom line to me is that I am a young man with a family with vested roots in this community. I fear that this city will lose it's appeal and my property values will continue to decline. Lets just say for arguments sake that all the cuts Ms.Howle presented could be done, the bottom line is that we will still have a shortfall and services will have to be cut. To me $300 is not worth the city going to crap for.
Erwin M. Fletcher October 05, 2012 at 12:12 AM
Christopher, you are a beacon of light in the Patch where so often darkness prevails. $300 is such a trivial amount of money to protect our way of life. For Pete Waldmeir that's like a dozen suits at the Salvation Army thrift store. For Lisa Pinko it's three months of car payments. I have no issue paying their share if it will get them to stop speading so many lies.
John October 05, 2012 at 12:21 AM
Today it is $300, Christopher. What will it be tomorrow? Again I say, what services will be cut? Is it recreation? Is it public safety? Whatever it is, city officials should ask the citizens for a millage pertaining to that specific need. Two thing can then be accomplished: First, we will know where our money is going, and second, the city officials will not have a blank check to spend the money any way they wish. Ask yourself GPW residents, why are our ELECTED officials afraid of handling it this way? If we give them a general fund millage, there will be zero accountability on where the money goes. Later on, when public safety and recreation are hurting and need money, they will come back and ask for specific millages for those needs, and we will vote for them because we will have no choice. Trust me, GPW, if we vote for these millages and this Headlee override, we will certainly pay for it down the road. Make the city officials do their jobs and look for cuts, then ask us for what they need. And by the way, Erwin, your name calling adds nothing to this discussion. Talk about the facts, please.
walden schmidt October 05, 2012 at 01:31 AM
@Popeye - did someone submit a FOIA request for the information or did they just pick up the phone and ask for it? If it's the latter, I suggest a FOIA request be submitted.
christopher October 05, 2012 at 10:09 AM
John, not sure if you understand the fact that by law a millage cannot be specified for something in particular? I do know that if you talk to a policeman, Dpw worker they will tell you all their equipment is falling apart. A park worker will point to the dilapitated tennis courts in Ghesquire Park, the Gazebo that had to be torn down, an activities building with no activities. A community center employee will show you peeling wallpaper, stained carpet, chipped paint etc. You are a tax payer, dont be afraid to go and look for yourself and visit these establishments. I also believe that the city administrator or comptroller would be happy to meet with you in person and open the books in front of you.
Gloria October 05, 2012 at 12:25 PM
John, Thanks so much for you comments to educate Christopher on the FACTS. It means nothing when he states he has "vested roots in this community"! My goodness... I was born at Cottage Hospital, worked at the Camera Center in the Village, I worked a groom at the Grosse Pointe Hunt Club and later became a member, worked at Ford for 30 years and paid taxes into this community my whole life! He seems to think HE is the only one who cares about the community! He needs to realize that some homes in the Woods will pay more than the $300 per year. My taxes were already raised this year and I will be paying even MORE! These are 10 year taxes! So NO - it will not cost only $300. A young couple down the street from me is sporting a FOR SALE sign as they feel the taxes are too high now! I am sure residents would rather put $300 per year into their own homes to pay down the mortgage. They might even use the money to pay for needed repairs on their homes. We need the money more than the city does! Let the city council tighten their belts like the rest of the community! Make them have a dedicated tax for less than 10 years. Maybe then the residents/community will say yes to that compromise. Until then.... Vote NO and NO!
Erwin M. Fletcher October 05, 2012 at 12:53 PM
John, I totally disagree. Name calling is time honored tradition on the Patch. People can get facts anywhere and frankly they can twist them in any way that serves thier purpose. I, on the other hand, prefer to target the bullies like Pete W. and Lisa Pinko and expose them for who they are.
Lisa Pinkos Howle October 05, 2012 at 02:36 PM
@ Popeye: Your question was "It is my understanding that the City still has about .4 of a mill that they can levy under the Headlee cap? They will not verify if this is true. Do you know if this is true?" At the public hearing on the budget earlier this year, the comptroller announced that there was .54660 remaining to be levied without a vote of the people and that they planned to levy that amount. Looking at the dashboard, it appears they actually raised it .6864 for 2012-2013. http://munetrix.com/Michigan/Municipalities/01-SEMCOG/Wayne-County/City/Grosse-Pointe-Woods Historically, council raised our millage rate 1.75 for the 09/10 budget year and another .50 for the 11/12 budget year. These 3 tax hikes amount to 2.9364. Add to that the two proposals (1.85) and (2.14) and our millage rate will have been increased 6.9264 since 2009.
William October 05, 2012 at 03:13 PM
So, Christopher, our city officials cannot, by law, tell us what specific services will be supported by the millage? Or, more importantly, what specific services would have to be cut if it is not passed? I am not seeing full disclosure or transparency from our elected officials. I am seeing "Hide the Weenie", and a scare tactic.
DDPIII October 05, 2012 at 05:47 PM
As I sit here riveted by yet another scintillating thread regarding the tax increase in GPW, I cant help but reflect upon what has been written here. I wonder why Pinkos-Commie-Howle & her knight in shining armour du jour Pete waldmeir dont take Mr. Fletcher up on his offer to pay their share of the tax hike. It seriously begs the question as to whether or not you are truly bothered by this increase-or it is a case of a personal vendetta of sorts against the city of GPW. It would seem to me that if Mr. Fletcher would indeed pay for your shares, your days of being unsolicited Ralph Nader crusaders would be over, and the sane amongst us could be restored to the quiet enjoyment of our beloved city. To me-this is a win-win propostition, apologies to Mr. Fletcher's wallet aside. I greatly anticipate a response, but I think we all know waldmeir & Pinkos-Howle MUST have an ax to grind. To do my part, I will gladly pay for any class or workshop waldmeir and/or Pinkos-Howle might be interested in at The GP War Memorial, so their time can be spent more contructively AND quietly.
Gloria October 05, 2012 at 10:35 PM
DDPIII... Talk about a personal vendetta ... look in the mirror! While you are at it... start a dedicated budget at city hall for everyone in favor of this increase! Problem solved!
Lisa Pinkos Howle October 06, 2012 at 12:18 AM
I would like to take a fencing class and if these 2 millages pass, my additional taxes will be $692 this year. Thanks! When shall I expect my check? But for the rest of the residents, who will pay? Not everyone is as lucky or rich as you are. Be careful what you wish for - we who are 55 and over may leave.
christopher October 06, 2012 at 12:19 AM
William, with a $2.5 million shortfall it's next to impossible to pin point what will be cut. I am sure there will have to be some hard decisions to be made. Remember the shortfall is in the general fund balance and part of that is also a certain % of money the city has to have in reserves to maintain a good bond rating.The rest includes Public Safety, DPW and City Hall. The budget is located on the City Website if you need to review. The bottom line is that GPW is in a bad economy and hurting like every other city, the City is not in financial doom because of some scandal or mis-spending. We have a higher budget because we are a Grosse Pointe, we pay more because we want the extras ( leaf pick up, snow plowed, private parks etc...) If we let those things disappear then we are simply no better then any other City and thus have no appeal.
John October 06, 2012 at 01:34 AM
Christopher, I have been to each of these locations, and I concur that many improvements need to be made. However, I repeat what I said, if public safety needs money, the city can ask for a special assessment millage, and, if approved by the voters, the revenue generated can only be spent on public safety, (MCL 211.24f). My point is, when has it been said by anyone in city government how that money will be spent. Can you tell me that the things on your list will be fixed if I vote for this millage? Have you met with the city administrator and comptroller? I must admit, that I have not, and that is because I don't need to. They are not going to show me anything that does not support their opinion on raising the millage. What you might want to do is ask, like I do, why the mayor wants to spend $10,000 on a volunteer party? Would that money not be better spent on wallpaper and paint for the community center? Tell me something, if my roof has a hole in it can I go to my boss and ask for a raise? After all, he should give it to me right, because I need my roof fixed? Of course not! He will tell me to not go on my next vacation and use the money to get my roof fixed. It is the same premise with government. Cut the garbage and spend money on the important stuff. By the way, I am a police officer, an 18-year veteran, (not of Grosse Pointe Woods), and I have been on the other side of a millage request.
John October 06, 2012 at 01:37 AM
Sorry Erwin, I am new to the Patch. I have read it for some time but until now have never commented. If name calling is the soup du jour, then bon appetite! I, however, choose not to engage.
Gloria October 06, 2012 at 12:20 PM
So tell me Christopher... Why is that Grosse Pointe Shores is not asking for a Headlee Override? Why is that Grosse Pointe Park is not asking for a Headlee Override? Why is that Grosse Pointe City is not asking for a Headlee Override? Why is that Grosse Pointe Farms is not asking for a Headlee Override? Answer: They manage their city finances better than the Woods as the economic times started to collapse! I have yet to hear any of the council members say they would stop taking a salary! NO other Grosse Pointe Councils take the salary the Woods does! If they had said yes to not taking a salary we would have saved $380,280 (2007-2012) If we would not have spent ridiculous amounts of money on legal fees we could have saved $350,000 (2007-2012) If we would have cut one of the city clerks we could have saved $100,000 If we would have eliminated parties we could have saved @$10,000 (2007-2012) = $60,000 Total $890,280 I am sure more could have been cut to reach a $1M mark.... So once again, Vote NO and NO
Mark October 06, 2012 at 07:58 PM
Chris and Erwin while I whole heartedly agree with you that GP must preserve its excellence I don't quite understand your perception of GPW. You do know that there are huge regions of GPW made up of small ranch style homes and vinyl siding right? I mean my god GPW is the only Pointe that transcends Mack. It is certainly no GPF and must be full of residents to whom 300 dollars is a big deal.
Chris K October 06, 2012 at 10:38 PM
christopher: I just looked at the budget on the Woods website. There is no budget detail. For example, the recreation budget is 1.6 million dollars but I can't tell how it is spent. Maybe you under 55 years olds who are in favor of the tax increase can offer to pay more for recreation services. It might make a difference. Your claim that we are a Grosse Pointe does not affect me when other Grosse Pointes are managing their budgets, inviting their residents to understand the financial pressures they are facing and asking for their input on solutions. This Grosse Pointe (Woods) seems to want to live like it is 1999 and it isn't. Maybe you can tell me why the public safety contract was in arbitration for over two years costing enormous legal fees to say nothing of the money that was not saved though spent as if it were while waiting for a resolution.
Erwin M. Fletcher October 08, 2012 at 01:08 AM
Mark, I am not trying to minimize $300. With this buffoon in the White House running amok times are tough for everyone and every $ counts. My point is that it's better to spend a few hundred dollars now to keep our city up to snuff. We can not afford to let things disintegrate with Harlem Woods right next door. This is especailly important in the areas where there are ranch homes with vinyl siding. The last thing we want is for the two cities to be indistinguishable. $300 this year or $3000 over 10 years is a small price to pay for much need civic and road improvements. The increase in our housing values alone should more than off-set this increase.
Erwin M. Fletcher October 08, 2012 at 01:28 AM
Lisa, I am glad to see you can be bought. If there was a way to guarantee that you would be forever silenced regarding the political leaders in GPW I would be happy to deliver the money to your door tomorrow. By the way, it has nothing to do with luck, it's a matter of hard work. I am a card carrying Republican that in almost all cases is against taxation. In this case though the very future of our city is at stake. While I may agree that there are some additional cuts that can be made to the budget, we are simply not going to cut our way to fully staffing the police force, repairing city infractrure and fixing our awful roads. When the house is on fire you don't argue about the cost of the water from the hydrant. Let's give the mayor and council the resources they need to keep the city on firm fiscal ground. I see nothing wrong with you and other dedicated citizens (not Pete Waldmeir, he is incompetent) demanding a more thorough breakdown of the city's budget when new funds are made available. Time is running out and we don't have too many more chances to get things right. Better to vote yes now and pay a bit more in taxes than to vote no now and see the city slowly crumble and wish you would have done something about it when we had the chance. Look at all the people that voted for Obama in 2008 and are kicking themselves now for doing it.
Gloria October 08, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Once again, you are missing the point! Mark is correct... stop saying $300 when it is more for many in the community! I would rather spend $300+ on keeping up my own property!
Gloria October 08, 2012 at 06:49 PM
To th person that stole the sign off my lawn... beware... I have a video camera recording any activity on my front yard. Better to catch you next time... so smile!
John October 09, 2012 at 01:38 PM
"With this buffoon in the White House running amok times are tough for everyone and every $ counts" Erwin, I totally agree with your above statement and I am all for spending a few dollars "to keep our city up to snuff". However, I also believe that voting for a general fund millage and especially a Headlee Amendment override is a recipe for disaster. In other words, I don't trust our city officials to spend the money where it needs to be spent. When the mayor believes in spending $10,000 for a volunteer appreciation party he needs a serious dose of reality. As I have said before, $10,000 buys a lot of paint and wallpaper to fix up the community center, or whatever else needs improvement in this city. Perhaps the mayor and council need to be told "NO", and, just like when your kid brings home a low grade in school, be told that our expectations are higher and that they need to do a better job.
christopher October 10, 2012 at 10:22 AM
Gloria, This past Saturday night i had my pro-millage sign and my Judy Gafa school board sign stolen off my lawn. I live around the Fairford area and heard a rumor that a teacher at De La Salle was offering extra credit to students who brought in political signs? I cant imagine a teacher promoting their students to steal but did hear that from a few neighbors?????

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