Taxing Ypsi

Ypsilanti is thinking about a local income tax, and, apparently, so is Ann Arbor. There’s a couple of good write-ups about all of this at Mark Maynard’s blog and at ypsi~dixit.

I don’t know a whole lot about what’s going on with these proposals, I don’t know much about the financial status of Ypsilanti or Ann Arbor (though, given that these places are in Michigan, where the economy is in the crapper, I’m sure things ain’t good), and while I like Ypsilanti, I am not loyal to Ypsilanti. I’m from Iowa; I just live here now. We’re almost certain to move in the next two or three years, probably to Ann Arbor, though maybe to one of the townships (more on that in a second). And I also don’t want to sound like some kind of “don’t you dare tax me or my guns” kind of Republican, either.

But I will say this:

  • I understand the dire straits that the city is in funding-wise, I really do. But charging an income tax for people working in Ypsi doesn’t really seem like a way to attract businesses to town.
  • If Ypsi wants to keep “upper/middle-class professional types” like me in town, then I’m not sure the issue is taxes and city services. People in my circle of Ypsi friends (with kids) often say things like “Ypsi is a great place to live, but the schools get kind of dicey from junior high on, so that’s probably when we will move.” So, it seems to me that if the tax was targeted to something like the school system, and if people saw some benefit to the schools, then I think folks might be happy with that. I know I could deal with it.
  • Ultimately, the problem is the township system in Michigan. We could literally move to a house four blocks away that was not technically in the city of Ypsilanti but in Pittsfield Township and I bet we could save 33% to 50% on property taxes. Which is a lot of money and which is why people move to the townships in the first place. I mean, why not? My kids go to the same school, and, as far as I can tell, I get similar services in terms of police and fire and all of that. And, if we move close enough to Ann Arbor in one of the townships, Will goes to the same Ann Arbor schools as the kids who live in the fancy-pants neighborhoods.

This is all probably a moot point though. Both Mark M. and YD suggest that the likelihood of this tax being passed is pretty low.

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