As I drive to and fro across Troy, MI (since I live on one side of the city and pastor a church on the other side of the city), I see these blue and white signs telling us to vote no on the upcoming millage election. Added to these signs, is the message that this is a 29% tax increase.
If it were a 29% tax increase then this would suggest quite a major increase in taxes, and one that would not be fair, but is this the reality? Are we really going to see a 29% tax increase or is someone monkeying with the numbers for political gain? They say that because the current millage rate is 6.5%, a 1.9% increase is approximately 1/3 of that number. But, is that the way it should be calculated? I don't think so. Our taxes are based on assessed home values, and so if those values go down, then so do the taxes we pay.
The opponents of the millage increase tell us that they don't believe the city manager's projections. Well, that's fine, but in responding I would suggest that the opponents not stoop to telling untruths. Let us also recognize that if our services depend on revenue produced by taxes taken in, and those taxes are based on home values, if home values are decreasing, so are revenues, and if revenues decrease then we have to either increase taxes or cut services. The City Manager has made a projection, checked it with the county folks (the same county government so many of the anti's in Troy are enamored with), and has told us what needs to happen.
Every analyst of the current situation in Troy, MI says that due to decreasing home values our taxes will go down quite substantially. A millage increase will likely only bring our tax bills slightly above what we're paying now, if that. I'm a new homeowner in Troy, and I value the services provided here. There is a top notch (and over-crowded but well used) library. A nature center and a museum that provide important outlets for our children and the broader community. We have top rated police and fire coverage. And our tax rates are among the lowest in the county. Do we really want to lose what we have? I don't think so. But then I don't speak for everyone.
But, back to telling the truth. There is a populist rage out there, not just in Troy but across the country, and demagogues who manipulate the truth to their own advantage are tapping into and encouraging the fears of people. I think its time to say no to the demagogues, and take responsibility for rebuilding our communities.
As for me and my household, we're voting yes on February 23rd.