From Keenan Gottschall, Wixom:
“What the 3-year projection process has done is to challenge the administration to critically review all facets of our operation and to seek additional creative and innovative solutions to the financial disparity we could face in the upcoming years.”
This is what Wixom City Manager Michael Dornan wrote in the (Fiscal Year) FY 2012-2013 city budget. Heeding this call for additional creative and innovative solutions, Mayor Kevin Hinkley and the Wixom City Council voted to approve ballot language for the Aug. 7 primary (election) asking residents for a 4.98-mill increase in the city’s millage cap. After months of discussion, and years of forewarning of economic issues, raising taxes on Wixom residents was deemed the most creative and innovative solution.
I don’t think so. Raising taxes isn’t creative or innovative, and it certainly is not the solution. Not when taxes were raised 1.15 mills just last July, and raised 0.3 mills just two years before that. This isn’t the solution when we have city officials driving around in luxury-model SUVs owned and paid for by the city. Wouldn’t their own cars, or at least more reasonably priced vehicles, be acceptable, more economic alternatives? Wixom has spent, according to Plante Moran audits, nearly $1.8 million on city vehicles since 2008. How many of us are provided with vehicles by our employers? This is only one example of the waste that could be cut from the city’s expenses to help save taxpayers money. The city of Wixom is not in dire circumstances yet, not when there is still plenty that could be cut without affecting city services. Other avenues can still be explored, and generate effective and less costly solutions.
In addition to simple waste-cutting, there are a few other glaring issues. First, Wixom’s General Fund revenues are estimated to increase by $119,078 over last year’s budgeted revenues, while at the current millage rate; if we aren’t losing money, why do we need to ask taxpayers for more? Second, when Mayor Kevin Hinkley began his first term, he was left a balanced budget, and over $1 million in the city’s general fund, but rather than tighten the belt in tough economic times to keep budget levels nearly stable, a few budget items have continued to grow, while not directly providing necessary services for city residents. For example, since 2008, the city manager’s budget has grown by $21,000, the Senior Citizen Committee has had a near doubling of its budget to $60,000, and the general operating budget has grown by $120,000. The mayor and city manager have developed a record of spending instead of saving, and asking for tax increases to repair the damage that this policy has created. To that end, Councilman John Lee said the following of the proposed increase in the millage cap: “Given the government’s lack of attention and action over the past several years, one has to wonder if a rise in the millage cap will also become a squandered asset.”
I will certainly be voting against any millage cap increase on Aug. 7, and I ask that you join me in doing so.