Monday, January 29, 2007

Tax and Spend Experts

The membership of Gov. Granholm’s special commission on the budget reads like a meeting of tax increasers anonymous. As for bi-partisan, they belong to the party of tax and spend.

Lets start with the best known Republican, Gov. Milliken. He really is bi-partisan. He supported Dem. John Kerry in the last election for president. When he was the governor, he let us drink PCBs in our milk rather than chance a cut to state revenue.

Next we have Gov. James Jobs Jobs Jobs Blanchard. When he was Governor., he gave us a 38% increase in our income tax and caused the recall of two senators who supported him.
Former Rep. Senate Majority Leader Dan DeGrow we believe never met an increase in taxes for education, good or bad, that he didn’t support. He also lost the support of his party for his attempt to run for Attorney General.

Former Dem. Attorney General Frank Kelly, had a long run in office and knew how to play politics. He also was one of the main reasons there were so many violations of the Headlee Amendment allowed. (Article IX Sec. 26-32 of the State Constitution)
The list goes on. If Governor Granholm thinks those of us who have been around for a while thinks this is anything but making someone else responsible for her decision to raise taxes, she has another think coming.

Raising taxes should not be a consideration. Unlike in the past , the auto industry will never come back to its glory days in this state nor bail us out of this mess. We must look to other states to see how they have succeeded. We must diversify and compete with other states. We have to give our graduates a reason to stay in this state instead of leave for another.

In desparation to bring some sense to the issue we created an audio public service announcement on our website in hopes that people will forward it other in their address book. You can also contact your legislators from our website. I am hoping that others will take the time to do so as well.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

An Appealing Year

If you are thinking about selling your home anytime soon, this is definitely the year to appeal your property tax assessment. The housing market across the state is tanking. Foreclosures are up for nonpayment of mortgages. They are also up for non payment of taxes. Since the State has changed the rules to allow foreclosure after two years of nonpayment of taxes, many people have lost their lifetime investment due to job loss or wage cuts. This is a buyer’s market. Home prices are dropping so they can be sold and be affordable. Tax increases are expected to be requested at all levels of government. (The worst solution possible)
Many people chose to ignore their right to appeal their SEV, which should be half of the true cash value, because they are being taxed at the Taxable Value which was capped with the passage of Proposal A in 1994. This limited the taxable value increases to the rate of inflation or 5% which ever is less. If you have been living in your home since Proposal A passed, you are likely paying more than 35% less in taxes than someone who just purchased a similar home. Remember, the assessment cap is removed when the property changes ownership. New owners are stuck paying taxes based on the State Equalized Value.
Don’t forget, if you live in the city of Detroit, you must first appeal to the Board of Assessors before mid February to appeal to the Board of Review in March. Everyone else should call their city or township and inquire when their Board of Review will be meeting. Make sure you do the work necessary to make a successful appeal. You should be able to get sales that have occurred in your area from a local real estate office or the city assessor. You should also be able to see the SEV of other houses in your area and the worksheet they keep on your home to insure accuracy of information.
If you need information on how to appeal you can contact us by phone, mail (include your phone number) or online.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Cobo Conspiricy

It seems like every two years Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick of Detroit suggests the expansion of Cobo Hall. This year he got his buddy County Executive Robert Ficano to do the deed for him. Its not that the idea is such a bad one, it is that the taxpayers never seem to get relief from the Cobo expansion project. They don’t seem to care what laws they break, what rights they trample or how much the taxpayer pays to achieve their goals.
At least the project has gotten less ambitious. At one time they wanted to build a new facility and attach a hotel without any idea what they were going to do with the old one. The price tag under Ficano seems to have dropped some as well, but we still have to consider that the bonds from the 1989 expansion will not be paid for until 2015. That has not been the only costs assumed by the taxpayers. We have been paying through Downtown Development, Tax Increment Financing and local taxes.
Of course, any new project must start with an Authority made up of individuals who have not been elected by anyone. Then, they are authorized by the legislature and appointed by some elected official(s). The State seems to want to be involved on this project too and will be represented if it flies. I think this is so the $16.2 million grant that was given to Cobo Hall in 2006 will not have to be given this year but rather extracted from taxpayers as is customary in a different manner.
It is proposed that this non elected body be given the authority to bond for this plan to the tune of $968 million for the 270 sq. ft. expansion. We should be grateful that this amount includes paying off the existing bond balance. Cobo Hall would then be turned over to private companies to be managed. Of course there is no guarantee that they will not buy $500,000 worth of artwork like the mayor did in 2002 when they were expected to lose millions of dollars.
Article IX Section 25 of the State Constitution says we should have the opportunity to vote on such matters. This is something they conveniently forget all to frequently and it certainly has not stopped them in the past. To insure that the counties and the legislature approve the plan, $233 million from the 22 year extension of the of the hotel and liquor tax would be split up between the 83 counties.
Few of these projects ever live up to their expectations (Pontiac Silverdome, Poletown Plant, first Cobo expansion, etc.). Cobo Hall loses tens of millions of dollars each year which leaves the taxpayer holding the bag. Even if they expand Cobo Hall there is no guarantee that the massive expendatures will produce the desired results.
If business is expected to benefit so much by this expansion, then they should be willing to foot the bill. Businesses are not the only ones who have been ravaged in this state. Taxpayers pay all the bills as consumers, even those imposed on business. With all the problems on the state and local level, more taxes for a car show or possibly a few more conventions makes no sense as a solution.