If you’re a Detroit resident who hasn’t paid city income or property tax, times are changing. Under the consent agreement, one of its goals is to get systems in place to track down taxes owed. A lot of Detroiter’s owe city taxes in some form or another. However, the city lacked the capacity to collect before. Now, for those land owners and people who let their city income tax go unpaid, it’s time to ante up.
Here is an excerpt from the final draft of the consent agreement:
Improve Detroit’s Capacity to Collect Tax Revenues:
- Enhance city revenue collection capacity as requested by the City of Detroit through technical assistance for collections, audit, and city income tax administration
- Create a common assessment template—move the property assessment function from the city to the county to allow for efficiencies as well as between property owners
Many Detroiters simply don’t have the money owed to the city. Will the city garnish wages? Or if the resident who owes taxes is unemployed (our unemployment rate is the highest in the country) will the city or Wayne County then repossess property?
Every week is a new start. A new chance to get it right. The weekend reset button kicks in and by Monday hopefully things look a little better. At least that’s the case for the political climate in the City of Detroit.
Last week this time the fur was flying around a lawsuit that challenged the legality of the consent agreement. Since then the lawsuit was tossed, and the City Council immediately appointed the remaining members of the 9-meember financial advisory team. The team is set to turnaround city finances as part of the controversial consent agreement with the state. Phew. A lot can change in a week.
Looking at the complete list of appointees, the first thing I noticed was that many of them, seven out of nine are not from Detroit. Board members hail from the Metro Detroit suburbs such as Novi, Bloomfield Hills, Franklin, Birmingham and so on.
As a Detroiter, my knee-jerk response was "These are outsiders!" But after setting aside the involuntary Detroit-centric mentality, this actually seems promising. Speaking of new starts and clean slates, why not get outside opinions on city finances? Detroit has been mismanaging money for years and to put it nicely, "insiders" haven't been doing a great job at holding the city together.
There comes a point when we have to stop pointing fingers as citizens and stay engaged in the turnaround process by not only holding these board members accountable, but also by holding ourselves accountable for our own city. We have to shrug the "us vs. them" mentality that too often stifles progress.
Just when the legal showdown over the Detroit consent agreement was escalating to a special kind of crazy, the show is over: But not before Mayor Dave Bing hired a private lawyer to fight his own city's law department. Really, you can't make this stuff up.
Ingham County Circuit Judge William Collette ended what could have been a long and nasty battle between the city and, well, itself. On Wednesday afternoon Collette immediately tossed the lawsuit brought by Detroit’s top lawyer Krystal Crittendon without hesitation.
“This lawsuit will not go forward. I saw it from the very first moment."
Now the City Council can appoint the final members of the financial advisory board that will ultimately take over financial decisions for the city.
But will Krystal Crittendon and the protestors of the consent agreement fade off into the sunset? Not likely. If it wasn't such a serious issue that affected my city, I'd grab a bowl of popcorn and call it entertainment.
Will the state pull it funding from Detroit? Will there be payless paydays? These are the questions that remain unsanswered after a meeting this morning between Mayor dave bing and the Detroit City Council.
Despite mounting pressure from the state to drop a lawsuit stalling the consnet agreement, Council told the mayor this morning in a meeting that they would not ask Krystal Crittendon, the city's top lawyer, to drop a lawsuit that calls the consent agrement void due to some $200 million in unpaid water bills and parking ticekets. The council plans on letting the lawsuit run its course, despite serious pleas from Bing and threats from the state to cut $80 million in revenue sharing dollars.
While Bing has been warning of payless paydays for city employees since he got into office, this time it is a reality, he says, calling it a "perilous" position. Stay tuned for what happens next.
The rift between the Detroit mayor’s office and the city council over closing or privatizing city departments was clear at Tuesday’s open meeting. When residents lectured the council for putting the Human Services Department and the Public Health Department on the chopping block, Council member JoAnn Watson made sure to set the record straight that it was the mayor’s office, not the council, that was pushing the cuts. “That was the executive branch,” she told a resident who hotly voiced her concerns about department cuts. “You’re preaching to the wrong group, honey.”
While it wasn’t on the council’s agenda to vote on department decertification this Tuesday, when it does come up for a vote, council will likely vote it down.
But that doesn’t mean city departments are safe from trims. The financial advisory board, appointed under the consent agreement that was approved by the City Council and Mayor Dave Bing, would ultimately take financial decisions away from the council.
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