From Wixom Mayor Kevin W. Hinkley:
This letter is written in response to the “‘No’ on tax cap hike” letter that appeared in a recent Mail Bag (June 13 Spinal Column Newsweekly). As Mayor of the City of Wixom, it is my duty to address misstatements, inaccuracies and uninformed comments regarding the world-class city of Wixom. You would think that as a long-time resident of Wixom, the letter writer would have been more knowledgeable about his community. As with all Wixom residents, I invite Mr. (Keenan) Gottschall to the city offices to learn more about the city.
First, the city has a very open and transparent budget process that includes multiple study sessions open to the public, a public hearing and open and transparent debate with subsequent action by the City Council in an open public meeting. This year, a number of residents participated in the process and expressed their opinions. The record, however, does not reflect participation by the letter writer. We have a saying in the city: “The world is governed by those who show up.” So, by his actions, or lack thereof, Mr. Gottschall has given tacit approval of the budget.
Mr. Gottschall makes reference to a 1.15-mill tax increase in July and a 0.3-mill increase two years prior. These increases were 2008 voter-approved millages dedicated to sidewalks/bike paths (0.3 mills) and the Local Road Program (1.15 mills). None of these funds provide for General Fund operations. It is the General Fund that is the subject of the millage cap increase proposal on the Aug. 7 ballot.
Mr. Gottschall also talks about vehicle purchases and luxury SUVs. He specifically states that city officials are driving around in luxury-model SUVs owned and paid for by the city and nearly $1.8 million has been spent on vehicles since 2008. The facts are that the city has spent $1,678,240.41 on equipment since 2008, including an aerial platform fire truck, medic-ambulance, police cruisers, front end loader for the DPW (Department of Public Works), replacement snow plow dump trucks, replacement DPW pickup trucks and two Ford Escapes for the building official and DPW director to be used for city business only. One can only guess that Mr. Gottschall is referring to personally owned vehicles when he makes his inaccurate statement about the luxury-model SUVs. He openly opines, “Wouldn’t their own cars, or at least more reasonably priced vehicles, be acceptable, more economic alternatives?” This is exactly what city policy has been for a number of years.
Finally, Mr. Gottschall makes statements regarding budget increases, balances and “simple waste-cutting.” Yes, there have been increases; there have also been decreases. Since 2008, Wixom has experienced a 38 percent decrease in revenue, or $5.1 million. This is attributable to declining property values and the closure of the Ford Wixom Assembly Plant. In spite of that loss, our exceptional level of service has been maintained (visit http://www.wixomgov.org/DocumentView.aspx?DID+1140 to learn about the city’s creative and innovative approach to municipal public services, “The Wixom Way”).
Unfortunately, we have exhausted our resources and there is a need to increase our General Fund millage cap to provide, very much like a line of credit, the flexibility to increase revenue as may be needed and only as needed.
Financial projections show that for a home with a market value of $200,000, the millage increase would be approximately $280 per year, or less than $6 per week. Short of that, more severe cuts will be required to balance the budget, including the elimination of all general overtime related to civic events, leaf collection, subdivision snow removal, the elimination of Parks and Recreation activities and programs, and the very possible reduction in police and fire services.
The services and programs currently made available through our residents’ tax dollars are what makes Wixom a great place to live and raise a family. So join me and others on Aug. 7 voting YES on the millage proposal to preserve Wixom services, property values, and our world-class community status.