Skip to comments.Cities Increase Fees, Spend More While Complaining About State Shared Revenue
Posted on 04/15/2014 5:46:23 AM PDT by MichCapCon
Fire inspection fees in Ann Arbor have increased 590 percent since 2003, and inspections are happening more often now.
The reason, said Ann Arbor Fire Marshal Reka Farrackand, is in "the interest of public safety as well as to comply with city ordinance."
Commercial property inspections cost business owners $690 in 2013, up from $100 in 2003.
The increase in cost made news when one business property owner refused to let the city inspect his buildings, according to MLive.
Ann Arbor, like many cities in Michigan, has seen its state shared revenue decrease, and while that has been widely reported, what has been under-reported is how cities have done overall financially.
The Michigan Municipal League released an analysis of how much optional municipal revenue sharing has been diverted to other parts of the state budget. From 2003 to 2013, Ann Arbor got $36 million less in state shared revenue than it thought it would get. The Michigan Municipal League has referred to situations like that as a "heist' and a "raid."
Nonetheless, Ann Arbor still found ways to increase its overall spending.
For example, charges for services in Ann Arbor have increased $20.2 million in the past 10 years, from $64.4 million in 2003 to $84.6 million in 2013. That's due in part to the increase in some fees.
Ann Arbor has seen increases in other major sources of revenue, too. Property taxes jumped from $61.3 million in 2003 to $66.7 million in 2013. Total revenue for the city increased from $166 million to $190.4 million from 2003 to 2013.
Other cities have also seen their total revenue increase despite the reduction of state shared revenue.
For example, the city of Grand Rapids did not get $72.9 million from optional state shared revenue, according to the MML analysis. However, its total revenue still increased from $118.6 million in 2003 to $126.1 million in 2013.
Flint did not get $54.9 million, but still saw total revenue increase to about $107.5 million in 2013 from $102.2 million in 2003.
Ann Arbor City Councilman Stephen Kunselman said some of the increases in funding for the Washtenaw County city are restricted funds, such as the water utility revenue.
"So it appears the city's general fund increased slightly in 10 years, but not enough to maintain our basic services like public safety and crumbling roads," Kunselman said in an email. "It's time the governor and state Legislature [to] either honor the commitment of their law or change it to reflect their bias against cities."
The state collects money from the sales tax and then redistributes some of it to local municipalities. A certain amount of money, based on population, is mandated by the state constitution. The rest is done by statute. In the past decade, the amount the state redistributes to municipalities has gone down, though the most recent budget proposals reverse this trend.
"Municipal governments have been protected from the recession and yet complain about money supposedly owed by the state," said James Hohman, assistant director of fiscal policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. "If the state really was obliged to pay up, these officials would be complaining to the courts, not to the state newspapers."
Matt Bach, director of media relations for the Michigan Municipal League, didn't respond to a request for comment.
Most leftist run entities just have no clue about what is happening when they raise taxes and revenues decline.
They just raise them some more.
Until the public attends city council meetings and asks about expenditures on a weekly basis....it will continue.
First question for Ann Arbor....what is the cost of running the inspection shop for the fire department? What’s the pay scale? What benefit package is given?
If the chief inspector is paid more than $80,000 a year....it might be curious to ask if he’s beyond their capability to pay, then give him twelve months to find another job or face a pay loss.
“Fire inspection fees in Ann Arbor have increased 590 percent since 2003, and inspections are happening more often now.”....”made news when one business property owner refused to let the city inspect his buildings”
Cue up an image from the Movie Billy Bathgate (no not Nicole Kidman skinny dipping), the one where Dutch Shultz, played by Dustin Hoffman, beats to death some inspector looking for a bribe at his night club.
Increasing fees, fines and penalties is the new hidden way to increase taxes.
Ann Arbor is as bad as they get. Given the choice of vaporizing Ann Arbor or Detroit, Ann Arbor is the one that would get it. Detroit may be a leech but Ann Arbor is an arrogant, self righteous liberal leech.
To make matters worse, many cities want to emulate Ann Arbor and be “world class” cities which means spending money.
Local lawmakers have for too many years predicated all of their actions and their spending on one assumption:
That big bags of money from either Washington or the state capital will fall out of the sky and land on the steps of City Hall.
Stark reality is now setting in. That is NOT going to happen.