By Pete Waldmeir
Ask yourself this:
Why on earth are Grosse Pointe Woods' Mayor-for-Life Robert Novitke and his six part-time council members so eager to shove aside the state-mandated Headlee Amendment tax limit and push for a massive 4-mills tax increase that will cost you and me - and even them - $20 million over the next 10 years?
Why not shun new taxes, trim their bloated budgets, save a million or two for us all and keep home prices somewhere that young families can afford to move in?
To use a sport metaphor, are they "just taking one for the team" by raising their own taxes, too, instead of trimming parties, perks and other ingrained pleasures? If you believe that, Matty Maroun has a bridge to Canada he'd like to sell you.
Let me lay it out for you. The gang of high-paid Woods' front office hired hands are cheering wildly to approve this 4 mills, $20 million taxpayer funded windfall on Nov. 6 for one reason - and one reason only:
Not one of the Woods' administrators live or pay taxes here!
City Manager Al Fincham, City Clerk Lisa Hathaway, City Comptroller DeeAnn Irby, Assessor Ginger Soles, (both) City Attorneys Don and Chip Berschback and even Public Safety Director Andy "Paz" Pazuchowski - NONE of them pay a nickel of property taxes to the Woods. Ask 'em.
You and I pay the this collection of bozos upwards of $650,000 a year in salaries, perks and expenses that they gladly take and spend elsewhere. Why wouldn't they cheer for more? Doesn't cost them.
Not only that, but roughly 85 per cent of city employees who work for these supervisors --- including cops/firefighters, DPW workers, front office help etc., --- DON'T LIVE OR PAY TAXES in the Woods, either.
Nada, zilch, zero. And they threaten to cut our services if we don't cough up more cash for their already fat paychecks and plush benefits?
They take our money and streak out to other communities every week night at 5 - if not before - many of them in vehicles you and I pay for, lock, stock and gas tank fill-up.
But I digress...which is easy to do when you're talking about these professional mooches' and their $20 Million Headlee Override tax scam.
To be perfectly blunt, the chart below proves that our esteemed mayor and council are NOT even close to being hurt by raising their own taxes.
New taxes won't hurt them. Their collective annual tax bills are more than covered by their salaries - which are paid by YOU and ME.
Woods' Council salaries are far and away the most generous in all of the 5 Grosse Pointes.
Mayor Novitke and his six hand-picked council cronies are paid a total of $28,500 a year to attend council meetings every two weeks - and stonewall public comment and debate, of course. The mayor gets $6,000 a year and each council member is paid $3,750.
A check of city tax records, however, shows that the mayor and six council members combined paid only $21,990 in property taxes last year. But they collected $28,500 from the city - you and me. So as a group they walked away $6,510 to the good!
Freshman Council member Todd McConaghy, a lawyer and state employee, rationalized his $3,750 salary by saying that he uses it, among other things, to "pay his cell phone bill." Hope he has fun playing games with his thumbs on our tab.
Want to send a message? Vote NO and NO on both the $10 million Headlee Override (simply labeled "Millage Proposal") and on the $10 million Roads Improvement Prop, which is just more bait and switch. Both taxes will be with us foreever. Never fear: They'll find a way to keep us Geese laying golden eggs.
There has been roads improvement money in every budget for years. The administration always manages to gut and shift roads money around so they can spend it on other pet projects.
Why give them $10 million for 10 years to play with as they wish? Say NO. Make 'em come back with $3 million for 3 years for roads, or something reasonable that can be tracked.
Want a NO NEW TAXES, NO BLANK CHECK lawn sign, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 313-882-5490. Donations are accepted.
Check out these incrtedible numbers:
Council member Total Taxes Council Salary Profit
Mayor Novitke $4,841 $6,000 + $1,159
Mayor Pro Tem Granger $3,203 $3,750 +$547
Art Bryant $4,063 $3,750 <$853>
Todd McConaghy $3,371 $3,750 +$379
Kevin Ketels $3,269 $3,750 +$481
Richard Shetler Jr. $2,703 $3,750 +$1,047
*Michael Koester ------- $3,750 +$3,750
TOTALS $21,990 $28,500 +$6,510
*Owns no property. Pays no taxes.