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On Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010, the citizens of the city of Ferndale were presented with the "citizen commission" on financial recommendations for upcoming years for the city of Ferndale. The "citizen commission" has been called into doubt by many residents as not representative of Ferndale at large.
The tone of the meeting was strongly against any raise in taxes, even though the financial committee did not seem to comprehend that. They only seemed to want to "sell it" to the residents.
We are not buying.
The most disturbing thing was that while there are 847 Ferndale homes vacant from foreclosure (according to AOL Real Estate: http://realestate.aol.com/Ferndale-MI-real-estate), the committee had the gall to offer a potentially huge increase in taxes/millage and increase fee costs across the board without significant consideration of true cost-cutting. This increase included an 11.4 percent increase via a Headlee override vote or another option of a public safety millage that could potentially increase taxes by 30 percent.
To them, it was more important to have Downtown Development Authority (DDA) activities and clean-cut parks than to keep their residents.
It was noted that the higher taxes in Ferndale were due to offsetting the lower value of our homes so we could be comparable to "our neighbors to the north." Even though our homes are not as big or as new, we should pay comparable taxes? Are you insane?
It is apparent that the council and its cronies no longer consider citizen opinion important. They must feel they know better than we do?
The spending and taxing that the Ferndale City Council has done in the past 10 to 15 years does not even come close to fiscal responsibility. If it had, the council would have budgeted and planned at the beginning of this financial downturn circa 1999-2000. In late 1999, the stock market started its slide, and many economists were predicting a recession; many lawmakers on the U.S. House Financial Committee warned of a bubble and a downturn, warnings that later manifested in mainstream media between 2006 and 2008.
I say to you, City Council, fiscal responsibility is far more than balancing a budget. It is eliminating debt at a time of economic uncertainty, not continuing or raising it. It is building a surplus. It is allowing millages to expire and taxes to be reduced, not finding some new expenditure to replace it every time one is due to expire. It is not compiling debt to the max that the voters will approve while balancing a budget. That is what got us into this mess.
Wasn't it just about a year ago that the council was seriously considering spending nearly $1 million dollars on a "new" City Hall? Good thing plans fell through.
It is time that the Ferndale elected actually represent the people. It is time that everyone tightens their belt ... including you at City Council and across the board. It is time to make tough cuts and batten down to weather the storm lest Ferndale become a mere memory.
I would like to call for a citizen board, made up of all Ferndale citizens, that will make its own recommendation to City Council: a true nonpolitical recommendation that will make the true cuts to help Ferndale weather the storm.
Please contact Sean House at email@example.com or 248-224-1973 to discuss the formation of a true citizens' committee.
Editor's note: The Financial Planning Committee is presenting its final presentation to City Council on Jan. 10 at Council's regularly scheduled meeting. Council will then decide where to go from there and whether or not Ferndale will see a special election in May with a millage proposal.