Sunday, May 01, 2016

Vote NO on Bond Proposal



On Tuesday May 3, the Crestwood School District will be requesting a $35 million Bond proposal on the ballot. I certainly will not support it. First of all they have close to $6 million in their fund equity, This is supposed to be held for emergencies and funding until the next payment from the state. It is not the fact that it exists, it is the amount that I have trouble with.
While sitting on millions of dollars they are forgoing normal maintenance. I looked at the pictures on their website of some of things that they plan to use the money for and was disgusted that they had not made the repairs out of their general budget. Some of the repairs look bad but are very inexpensive to repair. Others look to be more serious do to neglect.
There are some costly repairs that need to be made but before they ask me for more money they need to trim down a few million from their fund equity.
I went to a meeting with the committee supporting the bond and some of them tried to place the blame on previous administrations.Those people have been gone for years. Some of the things they are requesting are wants not needs.
They act like they are totally unaware of unemployment, the economy, inflation which most government entities say does not exist, and taxes which take up an average 52% of our income if you include state and local taxes. People are still losing their homes and there are prediction the stock market is on the verge of a crash that will make 2008 look like child's play.
I will support a bond issue only when they face reality. 3.5 mills is to much. That is $3.50 for every $1,000 of taxable value.


I'm Voting NO on May 3.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Point Made

For Immediate Release                                                                                   Contact: Ben Kaufmann
Feb. 22, 2016                                                                                                  517-373-5932


Shirkey: Loophole Voids Property Tax Protections,
Must be Fixed
Current Judicial Levy Law Makes Tax Caps Meaningless

LANSING — Are property owners in Michigan truly protected by the Constitution, state law, and local charters on how high their property taxes can be raised? Do they as voters have any say in the matter? A 2015 report issued by the non-partisan Citizen Research Council makes it clear that the answer is no. State Sen. Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, says it's time to reform the law that allows judges to effectively create new property taxes as the result of a lawsuit.

"There are supposed to be caps in place on how high property taxes can go, so that homeowners aren't treated like ATM machines," said Shirkey. "Just because they own property somewhere doesn't mean they should be viewed as an unlimited source of revenue by the government."

Shirkey said it does little good to have limitations on how many mills can be assessed if a judicial levy can simply bypass them.  Judicial levies result when a person wins a lawsuit against the government and then petitions the court to raise property taxes as a way to make sure they are paid in a timely manner.  The way the law is currently structured such a court ruling can effectively bypass constitutional protections such as Headlee, other state laws, and even locally voted in charter limitations.

"Proposal A was supposed to provide real property tax protections, and we must ensure these caps carry force and aren't just illusion," said Shirkey. "Most people would rightfully ask, how can a judge effectively create a new tax that can exceed all these caps?  And why don't they as local taxpayers have an opportunity to vote on such a proposal, just as they would for other new taxes or rate increases?"

Shirkey has introduced legislation, SB 630, which would instead treat court ordered damages as a garnishment out of existing tax dollars, as opposed to just allowing for the creation of new and additional taxes. The Senator said that such an approach recognizes that property owners are not an unlimited source of income for government to solely shift their obligations to. Shirkey said the current law is also based on an assumption that if a homeowner gets their property taxes raised that they automatically have some sort of easy way to go out and get extra money.

"No homeowner has the ability to go out and force their boss to give them a raise, yet current law allows government to be compelled to force additional money out of the very people who they are supposed to be subject to," said Shirkey. "There are real repercussions to raising property taxes above a cap; we don't want to return to the days before Proposal A where elderly people owned their homes outright but had to sell them because high taxes made it impossible for them to afford staying there."

The legislation is currently scheduled for a hearing in Lansing on February 23rd.  


###

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Process Begins

After almost three weeks trying to get my computer and emails back in order, I am happy to announce that I am back in business.  The great thing is that I am just in time to announce that the senate bills to keep local governments from placing judgements on our tax bills and increasing our taxes without our vote, as required under the constitution is about to come under discussion.


MEMBERS:
SEN. JOHN PROOS, VICE CHAIRMAN
SEN. JACK BRANDENBURG
SEN. TORY ROCCA
SEN. COLEMAN YOUNG II, MINORITY VICE CHAIR

The Senate
Committee on Local Government
SENATOR DALE ZORN 

CHAIRMAN

     710 FARNUM
P.O. BOX 30036
LANSING, MICHIGAN 48909-7536
PHONE: (517) 373-3543
FAX: (517) 373-0927

NOTICE OF SCHEDULED MEETING

COMMITTEE:            Local Government

DATE:                           Tuesday, February 23, 2016

TIME:                           12:30 p.m.

PLACE:                        Room 100, Farnum Building
                                       125 W. Allegan Street
                                       Lansing, MI   48933

PHONE:                       Jackie Mosher (373-5312)
                                       Committee Clerk

AGENDA

SB 610     Sen. O'Brien           Housing; condominium; provision related to construction process of certain condominium projects; modify.

For Testimony Only:
SB 630     Sen. Shirkey           Civil procedure; remedies; judgments against municipalities; limit ability to collect by levying a tax or issuing bonds.

SB 631     Sen. Shirkey           Property tax; payment and collection; payment of collected taxes by local tax collecting unit; provide for payment of judgment against local unit of government.

And any other business properly before the committee.

 




In the spirit of compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), individuals with a disability should feel free to contact the Office of the Secretary of the Senate by phone [(517) 373-2400] if requesting special services to effectively participate in the meeting.





If you can attend that would be great. But, if you can’t please consider calling the committee clerk at Committee Clerk | 517-373-5323  . I am also happy to announce that we have AFP Michigan support.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


In the summer of 2015 Wayne County placed a judgment of $39 million on our summer taxes.  Inkster placed several million dollars worth of taxes on Inkster taxes.  This kind of thing goes on all over the state.  Their authority they say comes from PA 236 which allows them to place judgment directly on our tax bills without a vote of the people.
We believe that this is a violation of the Headlee Amendment which is part of Article IX of the State Constitution which was passed by the voters in 1978.  It requires that increases in taxes require a vote of the people.  We requested the help of the legislature to change PA 236.  As a result we received a response from Senator David Knezek (D) who informed us that he has requested the legal council and legislative analysts to design a bill that will prohibit the placing of these judgments on our tax bills. We never heard from him again in spite of our attempts to contact him.
The Senate bills SB630 and SB 631 introduced by Senator Shirkey now resides in the Senate local government committee and  HB 5150 introduced by Rep. Poleski and 5159 introduced by Reps. Yonker, Price and Garcia has been introduced in the House and are now in the House local government    committee.  These bills will bring judgments in line with the State Constitution.


Please contact them and request that these bills be moved for a vote. Ask your friends to do the same. When they are moved to the floor contact your elected officials to vote in favor of their passage.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015



by Joe Lehman's Facebook

Republican lawmakers apparently learned nothing from Michigan's "lost decade." Cutting hundreds of corporate welfare deals did not prevent the loss of nearly a million jobs but they did cost less well connected taxpayers at least $9 billion while things like road repair languished.
Now Republicans are leading the charge to essentially bribe a business to set up shop here, leaving every other taxpayer on the hook for the cost of the tax-break "bribe." You can bet they'll line up for photos at the corporate ribbon cutting ceremony but be very shy about discussing the precise details of the secret tax deal, especially when it fails to live up to their promises as such deals usually do.
Corporate welfare doesn't work, it isn't fair, and it's not the job of government to pick winners and losers. It's unseemly.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Headlee Abused Again

From: "David Lonier" <davidlonier@gmail.com>
Subject: Authority not granted to raise taxes/fees to fix roads!
Date: November 5, 2015 at 10:50:17 AM EST
To: "David Lonier" <davidlonier@gmail.com>

To anyone who has the tiniest grasp of the English language and the concept of self-rule…
This was sent to all State Senators who actually had the nerve…  
A similar notice was sent to all State Reps prior to their actually voting to increase a tax on gasoline and vehicle registration fees…can you believe that?



Dear State Senator,

To increase the gas tax AFTER VOTER DISAPPROVAL, is a blatant disregard of lawmakers’ oath to uphold the constitution.
The Headlee Amendment was passed by the people of Michigan to ensure that there would be no tax increases without their approval.

Where in Article IX of the Michigan State Constitution does it say that the State Legislature can pass a tax increase without voter approval or with an over 80% voter disapproval (Prop. 1) or by a 2/3rds vote of the Lawmakers?

        Guess what?  It doesn’t!

    Any Bill to increase taxes without voter approval has no force of law!
                             It’s in direct contravention of our State Constitution!

      Can you read?  Can you comprehend?

↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓


Text of Section 25:

Voter Approval of Increased Local Taxes; Prohibitions; Emergency Conditions; Repayment of Bonded Indebtedness Guaranteed; Implementation of Section
Property taxes and other local taxes and state taxation and spending may not be increasedabove the limitations specified herein without direct voter approval. The state is prohibited from requiring any new or expanded activities by local governments without full state financing, from reducing the proportion of state spending in the form of aid to local governments, or from shifting the tax burden to local government. A provision for emergency conditions is established and the repayment of voter approved bonded indebtedness is guaranteed. Implementation of this section is specified in Sections 26 through 34, inclusive, of this Article.[1]

For clarification as to where the funds will come from, and the law prohibiting excess surplus, see below for verification:
Re: Section 26 below…
There is currently well over $20 Billion above the tax limitation, all but 1% of which belongs in the taxpayers’ bank accounts.
Actually far more if one considers the sixty thousand million dollar ($60  Billion +) astronomical State pension fund.
For government to amass this amount of taxpayers’ money is unconstitutional and beyond plunder!
Article IX:

Text of Section 26:

Limitation on Taxes; Revenue Limit; Refunding or Transferring Excess Revenues; Exceptions to Revenue Limitation; Adjustment of State Revenue and Spending Limits
There is hereby established a limit on the total amount of taxes which may be imposed by the legislature in any fiscal year on the taxpayers of this state. This limit shall not be changed without approval of the majority of the qualified electors voting thereon, as provided for in Article 12 of the Constitution. Effective with fiscal year 1979-1980, and for each fiscal year thereafter, the legislature shall not impose taxes of any kind which, together with all other revenues of the state, federal aid excluded, exceed the revenue limit established in this section. The revenue limit shall be equal to the product of the ratio of Total State Revenues in fiscal year 1978-79 divided by the Personal Income of Michigan in calendar year 1977 multiplied by the Personal Income of Michigan in either the prior calendar year or the average of Personal Income of Michigan in the previous three calendar years, whichever is greater. For any fiscal year in the event that Total State Revenues exceed the revenue limit established in this section by 1% or more, the excess revenues shall be refunded pro rata based on the liability reported on the Michigan income tax and single business tax (or its successor tax or taxes) annual returns filed following the close of such fiscal year. If the excess is less than 1%, this excess may be transferred to the State Budget Stabilization Fund. The revenue limitation established in this section shall not apply to taxes imposed for the payment of principal and interest on bonds, approved by the voters and authorized under Section 15 of this Article, and loans to school districts authorized under Section 16 of this Article. If responsibility for funding a program or programs is transferred from one level of government to another, as a consequence of constitutional amendment, the state revenue and spending limits may be adjusted to accommodate such change, provided that the total revenue authorized for collection by both state and local governments does not exceed that amount which would have been authorized without such change.[1]

And so where is the money going to come from to fix the roads???????

The State is allowed to retain no more than 1% surplus above its spending in any given fiscal year….

On Page 23 of the 2014 CAFR find Governmental Funds:

Read as follows:
Most of the State's basic services are reported in the governmental funds, which focus on how money 
flows into and out of those funds and the balances left at year-end that are available for future spending. The governmental fund 
financial statements provide a detailed short term view of the State's general government operations and the basic services it 
provides. Governmental fund information helps determine whether there are more or fewer financial resources that can be spent 
in the near future to finance the State's programs. These funds are reported using modified accrual accounting, which measures 
cash and all other financial assets that can readily be converted to cash. Governmental funds include the General Fund and 
special revenue, capital project, debt service, and permanent funds. 

Governmental Fund balance is $5.77 Billion

Budget Stabilization Fund is $497 Million

Total cash available for spending:  Governmental + Budget Stabilization = $6.227 Billion
All that’s necessary to fix the problem and the roads is for government to obey the CONSTITUTION!
And beyond the above cash that’s readily available to fix the roads…take a good look at this:

            1. Repeal the Prevailing Wage Act: $400 Million
            2. Repeal the counterproductive MEDC:  $ Billions wasted on corporate welfare
            3. Bring benefits paid to state workers in line with the private sector:  $5.7 Billion
            4. Drop any thoughts of Michigan taxpayers footing any portion of the totally unnecessary 
                $5.3 Billion International Bridge
            5. Use the “unrestricted” surplus in the CAFR/Governmental/Rainy Day/Budget Stabilization Fund:  
                $5.77 Billion, See CAFR pgs 23 & 38
            6. There are $ billions in the Catastrophic Claims Fund that are being used for nothing!
            7. Use the money from the nearly $2 billion increase in state revenue that’s expected from FY 2015-2017.  See attachment
            8. Roads?  Or a new $130 million senate office building so senators can have better view of the capitol????

                Click on the links & see attachment to verify! 

To tax the people AFTER the people have said NO… 
Is telling the taxpayers that the tax-takers have assumed the role of tyrants with total disregard for the will of the people!
You all should hang your heads in shame for even considering such unethical behavior.  


Courtesy of David Lonier
2014 Nominee, State House, 29th District
1842 Commonwealth
Auburn Hills, Michigan 48326

248-373-9111

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Lincoln Park at it Again

The taxpayers of Lincoln Park have just turned down the inclusion of PA 345 into their charter in May. The Emergency Manager, Brad Coulter will not take NO for an answer and has placed the question again on the November 3, ballot. The language is below:
This proposal creates a separate funding stream to generate new tax revenue for a Police
Officers and Fire Fighters pension system.
Shall the City of Lincoln Park, County of Wayne, Michigan, be authorized to establish a
Retirement system for the benefit of police officers and fire fighters, create a pension
board, and levy taxes annually in an amount sufficient to fund the system, but not to
exceed six (6) mills in any year, on each dollar of taxable value (maximum $6.00 per
$1,000) for all property in the City, all in accordance with the provisions of Michigan
Public Act 345 of 1937, as amended?
They have limited the request not to exceed six mills in any year but that can amount to an increase of $300 per year on a house with a taxable value of $50,000. It lets the City of Lincoln Park keep the money taxpayers have already voted for those purposes in Lincoln Park’s general fund budget to spend on other things.
The State of Michigan has 1,773 cities, villages and townships. Only 45 of them have approved PA 345. There is a very good reason for that. While establishing the retirement system is optional, once created, the local government must provide benefits under the terms of the Statute. There is probably as many interpretations of the statute as there are those offering it. The taxpayers lose.
Some of the problems with funding pensions, are caused by the municipalities themselves. Because they can never have enough money they find ways to extract it from the taxpayers any way they can. Sometimes it is by early retirement for the employees, which drains the pension fund and relieves the general fund, which is part of Lincoln Park’s problem. The next step may be a Deferred Retirement Program (DROP) which pushes the collection of the monetary portion of the benefits forward and transfers the other benefits to PA 345. Then they hire the employees back as contractors thus relieving the general budget from those costs.
In 2013 the top 20 wages in Lincoln Park were as follows:
1 Police  HAWK, BRIAN     232,247.06
2 Fire     LEWIS, SCOTT   149,320.05
3 Fire    VANCE, DOUGLAS B    138,125.84
4 Police KOLAKOVICH, RICHARD 122,558.97
5 Police POWERS, MICHAEL L 120,565.33
6 Police LAVIS, JOSEPH D 115,004.35
7 Fire    WRIGHT, ROBERT 110,511.05
8 Fire    HEIM, STEVEN 110,440.45
9 Fire    PRINZ JR, MICHAEL S 110,427.35
10 Fire  PERRY, BRANDEN 110,376.90
11 Fire  HENDRICKS, MICHAEL 107,230.46
12 Fire  MARTIN, STEVEN 96,721.45
13 Police KERR, SCOTT 96,187.66
14 Police WEIR, VINCENT M 95,537.64
15 Fire   FRASIER, JAMES R 95,315.21
16 Police STACHO, JEFFREY M 93,279.84
17 Fire   DYER JR, AL 92,080.18
18 Police SANT'ANGELO, WILLIAM 91,980.30
19 Fire   JEWELL, BRYAN 91,974.86
20 Fire  HARPER, MICHAEL 91,961.77
This amount includes overtime and is part of the past but could easily be contractually a part of the future. While they will never admit it, because it is illegal, I have known a number of police and firemen over the years that bragged about the fact that they would work their time off to manipulate overtime for themselves and their friends. I have been told that they do not do that in Lincoln Park and that it is only a result of understaffing. I find that difficult to believe. If you have access to the internet I suggest that you read the contracts that are listed on the city website.
Please do not be deceived and surrender your right to vote on future taxes to a pension board that you do not elect. Remember this change is permanent. If housing starts to increase in value, the amount of dollars you pay will probably only go up with no benefits of the Headlee rollback.