Taxes

The Forest For The Trees

Grand Traverse County Commissioners don't even understand why the county is broke.

We all like nice things.

Sometimes we have to choose which nice things we want however.  As a community, the pie is only big enough for so many parks, so many police officers, and some of the other necessary ‘amenities’ to make it all happen.  One thing it requires is choices and priorities.

Attending a board of commissioners meeting tonight, one participant noted that our Northern Michigan county had the worst pension funding situation in the state.  While probably true, the rest of the commissioners in their own ways acknowledged it, and then moved on to prove in no uncertain terms why it is unlikely to change.

In an effort to raise money to cover the ballooning pension liabilities, Grand Traverse County Commissioners voted 6-1 to sell a county property for nearly $100K less than the highest bid for the property.   They were convinced by a number of hikers, bikers, and cross country skiers, that letting the property in question into ‘private’ hands would make our slice of heaven intolerable.

You Betcha! (9)Nuh Uh.(1)

Does Detroit need a lesson on the Fourth?

And no. I don’t mean that thing where we exercise out "right" to set off large quantities of fireworks next month.

Last weekend, I spent some time with some friends who now live out of town.

We did the “usual touristy” things like Greektown and the Casinos.

They wanted me to go with them to the Grand Prix, but I’m more of a NASCAR Guy than IndyCar.

Afterwards, I insisted on changing things up and that we go down to Lafayette to eat.

I told them that it was part of the “Authentic Detroit” dining experience and that sort of thing.

They had never been down there and after initially scarring the hell out of them (along with equally confusing them with how the food was ordered/delivered), they settled down a bit and we started to catch up on things. They began to comment on local stuff, basically regurgitating what people like Gov. Snyder, et al, were shoveling to the rest of the country about how things have turned around since the bankruptcy.

I laughed at their comments and replied to the effect that, “Yeah! They wish!”

“Look at all of this new stuff downtown? How can you argue that things aren’t better?”, they replied.

I told them that “Yes”, the Downtown Area has improved. Large amounts of government money tends to eventually do that. “Yes” places like the Riverfront have gotten nicer.

But then I added, the same cannot be said for the rest of the city.

They didn’t believe me.

They couldn’t accept the fact that everything was as bad as I told them it was.

I told them, “Fine, want to go on a little trip?”

They were a little apprehensious to say the least, but we loaded up into their car and we went happy motoring…away from the freeways.

I took them in places where even Crowder wouldn’t dare to venture!

We went up and down places like Jefferson, and then Warren and Mack where it didn’t take that long to notice the large swaths of bombed out/burned out neighborhoods (at least I think they were neighborhoods at one time), large piles of trash and abandoned/stolen vehicles (along with boats…yes boats) strewn about, pretty much every other building covered with graffiti, I told my now visibly scared “driver” that I wanted to stop at the next party store because I wanted to get something to drink.

Yes, I did that on purpose.

So, while we parked across the street and started walking towards the party store, I got bombarded with a ton of questions (besides is this really safe) like why that particular store had a chain-link fence around the roof topped with razor wire, why there were thick metal plate doors next to the entrance and why was there a flashing green light on the sign outside of the building. When we went inside, they did a double-take at the walkway surrounding most of the perimeter of the inside of the building separated by 1-inch thick Lexan.

I casually grabbed a 2-liter of Rock N’ Rye, they didn’t get anything (I cannot imagine why) and we went back to their car. I still had more to show them.

Continuing our “tour”, they still couldn’t get over the flashing strobe light on the sign.

“Oh that? That’s Green Light.”

And here is where out story turns to next…

{More after the fold}

You Betcha! (7)Nuh Uh.(2)

It’s About Time already

Michigan lawmakers look to plug the big gaping hole in government liability.

1997 was actually a good year for Michigan.

It could have been better however.  It was the year that Governor Engler signed off on pension plan changes for state employees, but not including the school retirement system. For those it did affect, It adjusted the way in which pensions are funded from defined outcomes at high risk for taxpayers, to defined contribution with real ownership to the recipients.

It also saved the state billions in the last 2 decades. 

The change to the Michigan State Employees’ Retirement System saved the state an estimated $2.3 billion to $4.3 billion in unfunded state employee pension liability from 1997 to 2010, according to the report, authored by public pension expert Rick Dreyfuss.

Seven years later we are still benefiting (no pun intended) from this change.

This 20 year anniversary could well produce the finishing touch and allow Michigan to move toward a predictable liability scenario for good.  School employees somehow remained outside of the course correction in 1997.  House Bill 4647 and Senate Bill 0401 being nearly identical, provide the mechanism for the fix to that problem that has been long overdue.

You Betcha! (9)Nuh Uh.(0)

Corruption or Incompetence?

Oakland Macomb Sewer Interceptor Costs Now At $ 335 Million And Climbing, Cue The Lawsuits

The City of Sterling Heights announced on their FakeBook page Monday that they have filed a lawsuit against Macomb County over their $ 22.2 million portion of the cost for reconstructing the collapsed Oakland Macomb sewer interceptor (OMI), as apportioned by the Macomb Interceptor Drain Drainage District (MIDDD). Sterling Heights believes that the Macomb County Wastewater Disposal District (MCWDD) “did nothing to abate the conditions that likely caused the December [24th] 2016 collapse”. Sterling Heights believes their contract with the MCWDD covers the operation and maintenance of the OMI interceptor.  This may be a little tricky to prove, since the OMI is actually run by the Oakland Macomb Interceptor Drain Drainage District (OMIDDD), an entity independent of and superior to the MCWDD.

Sterling Heights’ contention is that proper maintenance on the OMI by the MCWDD would have prevented its collapse. Maybe. The OMIDDD has already spent $ 170 million on rehabilitation of the OMI since they bought it in 2009. Supposedly the entire 21 mile length was examined and rehabilitated. That rehabilitation effort ended just months before its December 2016 collapse. That collapse suggests that the OMIDDD rehabilitation didn’t do much good. Anyone care to speculate why? Your choices are corruption or incompetence, or both.

This is now a Michigan wide story because our state government will be providing at least $ 5 million of the $ 75 million repair costs for the December OMI collapse. The much debated $ 3 million legislative grant and another $ 2 million from MDEQ.  That $ 75 million is just the current estimate, for the currently acknowledged deterioration of the OMI. Given the Granholm Administration’s role in suckering Oakland and Macomb counties into the OMI purchase, the State of Michigan probably has a lot more responsibility.

You Betcha! (10)Nuh Uh.(0)

Addicted.

Is it truly too late for American individualism?

What just happened should scare the hell out of us.

Healthcare has officially become an entitlement.   You have whole communities full of government junkies and melted away personal responsibility. Elected bureaucracy remains the pusher of socialized (welfare) medicine, and you cannot put enough locks on the safe to keep it out.

Preexisting conditions will remain a mandate on insurers. Even with added penalties for lapses in coverage going forward, accepting, and maintaining responsibility for oneself and one’s family has apparently been cemented as a function of government.

The most humble beginnings

It started simple enough decades ago, with the accepted forms of ‘insurance;’ Social security, Medicare, and for the emergency needs of poverty stricken folks, medicaid.  Soon, it was forcing insurance providers to include pregnancy protection for men, and autism support for parents who won’t stay at home with their own children.

Michigan in total, has added 655,635 to it’s medical welfare rolls as of last Monday.  This taxpayer funded boondoggle known as “Healthy Michigan” was enacted under a ‘Republican’ controlled legislature, and signed into law by a ‘Republican’ governor. And it is sufficiently generous.  The thought of taxpayers providing insurance welfare for those who are 33% above poverty thresholds is maddening.

You Betcha! (10)Nuh Uh.(0)

New Michigan Commemorative License Plates

Buy TWO and put one on the front to show that you like higher taxes!

The newest fundraising license plates being issued by the Secretary of State are out!

Celebrating the most recent progressive era of Republicanism in Lansing, the official Budget Year Commemorative Series is now waiting to adorn your vehicle.  From the more modest budget of $48 Billion to the latest greatest manifestation of politics unhinged, you too can let folks know how you love those high gas taxes, expansion of Obamacare in Michigan, and a full blown explosion of cronyism!

Each plate series carries the Snyder-Calley forward budget for each service year, along with the total taxpayer dollars spent to provide such things as school bailouts, constituent payola, medical welfare, and so-much-more!  The special plate fee is peanuts compared to the Michigan Catastrophic Claims premiums, the registration price hike, or the continued overcharging for income taxes!

Be sure to order extras for the kids!  (cause they’ll be paying for it long after you are gone)  For each plate sold, the Secretary of State will contribute $50 to the ‘Sanctuary State Fund,’  or a secret slush fund for the next couple of Senate leaders.

Exclusive License Plate series with budgetary increases shown below the fold.

You Betcha! (11)Nuh Uh.(0)

Michigan republicans should just concede the next election to the democrats right now.

Really! I’m a conservative just like the rest of you. Pinky swear!

Lil’ Guv Brian Calley, accompanied Gov. Snyder to Macomb County this week at the Macomb Chamber Alliance luncheon, and after a predictable speech on their successes in office, “teases” a potential run for Michigan Governor.

No, I’m not going to drive up web traffic to his soon-to-be campaign site by posting any links to it here.

..

Honestly!

This is the best that the republican kakistocracy can do?

So far, Team “r” has a candidate who supported bailing out Detroit and giving local governments the opportunity to drive themselves even further in debt by floating bonds to pay for promises they made to their employees which they knew they couldn’t possibly keep.

Now we’re seeing a candidate whose conservative philosophical leanings are questionable, at best.

Does Snydercaid, Common Core or using the power of state government to pay for his own daughter’s autism coverage ring a bell to anyone here?

You Betcha! (14)Nuh Uh.(0)

Rip Off

Weaver/McCormick Flint-GLWA Deal Transforms Water From Obscene Tax To Outright Theft

Flint Mayor Karen I Love Rizzo Weaver and Great Lakes Water Authority CEO Sue McCormick have reached a 30 year deal for Flint to purchase water from the Great Lakes Water Authority. The City of Flint had signed up to purchase its water from the nascent Karegnondi Water Authority in March 2013 and the State of Michigan concurred in April. Everyone in Flint City government, save one councilman, has agreed to source Flint’s water from the KWA. Even Mayor Weaver. Until this week.

The Weaver/McCormick deal has GLWA paying Flint at least $ 7 million a year to cover Flint’s share of the bonds issued to finance the KWA. A total of $ 210 million over the 30 year contact period.

Where will that $ 210 million come from?  GLWA is not the Federal Reserve, they cannot just create money out of thin air. GLWA will extract the money from the victims ratepayers in the other communities it ‘serves’.

Mayor Weaver and CEO McCormick will transform GLWA water rates into yet another exaction imposed upon most of Southeastern Michigan to subsidize Flint. Without any input from those victims ratepayers. A blatant fee as tax evasion of Headlee. Governor Snyder, of course, approves wholeheartedly.

This is government theft, Headlee evasion, and a rich fount of future corruption.

You Betcha! (11)Nuh Uh.(0)

Draining The Swamp In Michigan?

Northern Michigan activists pursue lip serving politicos in Lansing

The mission statement of DTS Michigan is simple:

“Using public media to hold our elected officials accountable. Raising public awareness of issues critical to the people of Michigan.”

The mission itself, is yet another matter.

Watching taxes go up, socialized medicine implemented, an international bridge obligation, bailouts for Detroit, Bailouts for Detroit schools, and increased bureaucracy develop in the past 6 years, one would think we have a liberal Democrat legislature led by a liberal Democrat governor at the helm. Even the former liberal controlled political machinations of Lansing were never so effective in the growth of the budget, and accompanying growth in taxes.

The reason is as simple as the players behind the scenes pushing for corporate welfare (cough- Detroit stadiums, arts, roads, schools) and an increasingly centralized hospital, insurance, industrial complex.  There is much money in these endeavors, and the scaly denizens who benefit financially run the swamp with a tight leash on the legislative majority.

So along comes this activist brigade attempting to educate, make taxpayers aware of how bad they are being abused, and highlight who is doing the abusing. Yeah, we may have been trying to do that here, but Drain the Swamp Michigan is actually running ads and spending money.

The ad on the right is an example of the high quality radio content, but put to a video so it can be shared in popular social media sites that don’t allow MP3 as a standalone.

We’re glad they are on the team, and encourage you to support them as you can financially.

 

 

You Betcha! (14)Nuh Uh.(0)

The Bill Came Due

Grand Traverse County pension advisory board provides insight into fiscal mismanagement.

Honey, go get your credit card please. Ignore the scissors, just hand it over.

Its like that.  The Grand Traverse County Board of Commissioners has a little issue that has been looming, called an obligation.  Debt by a different name, and because the Michigan constitution says it must be honored, it is little more than chains that bind our children to their parents bad decisions. From the local fish wrap:

TRAVERSE CITY — A one-page road map past Grand Traverse County’s pension debt hurdle will makes its way to county commissioners, who soon could decide whether to ask taxpayers for a millage.

Pension advisory board Chair Michael Gillman on Monday requested a broad-stroke recommendation that “the people who have to pay the bills” could understand. He and his fellow board members agreed on a set of steps to deal with the county’s defined benefit pension debt.

Past county officials offered that pension to employees but failed to fund the obligations. The bill for 276 retirees and 88 eventually-will-retire current employees is growing year-by-year and threatens to dominate the county’s budget.

“The bottom line is that the public has to somehow understand that we have received services that we haven’t paid between $50 (million) and $70 million toward those services,” Gillman said. “We got those services. We got the bill. The bill has to be paid constitutionally. And we’ve got to pay it in a way that minimizes impact, to the extent possible, on taxpayers and on current employees who aren’t under that plan.”

The solution is to drastically cut services, or get more money somehow.

So in all likelihood, a millage request will be first.  1 Mil that will raise about $5million annually, and that will add about $80 per homeowner.  A millage that will likely find spectacular defeat, as it is not something that will offer ‘instant gratification’ as would fresh roads, happy senior citizens, better school services or properly paid for libraries.

indeed, a millage of this caliber needs proper ownership.  And though there are plenty of other players responsible for over 2 decades of mismanagement on the county board, there are certain names that need to be remembered because they are still with us in elected office, performing big government feats with big government idealism.

We’ll call it the “Sonny Wheelock, Larry Inman, Wayne Schmidt, Memorial Millage.”

If the above appeared on the tax bills of Grand Traverse County property owners next to the assessed amount, I wonder how that would affect their future endeavors?

You Betcha! (21)Nuh Uh.(0)