The contrast between Livingston and Wayne counties is striking. Livingston has a balanced budget, levies the lowest property tax rate in the state and boasts the highest-possible bond rating — a stature that reflects prudent a prudent spending philosophy as well as providing savings when the county and area townships borrow money to pay for projects.
Wayne County levies a higher tax rate but still is a financial nightmare. It is running a huge deficit. It has underfunded obligations. It’s bond rating has been reduced to a tick above that of junk bonds. Its response in part has been to propose a tax hike and blame the state for not giving it enough money.
Where has Wayne County’s money gone? Some of it has gone into ridiculously generous sweetheart deals for those most connected to the highest seats of county . A Wayne County official in his 40s with less than nine years of service qualified for an immediate $96,000-a-year payout. An economic official who willingly left for a lucrative job running the airport was given a $200,000 severance package — although that was returned when the smelly deal was publicized.
Who spends money like that? Well, obviously, it’s the elected power elite in Wayne County.
Is that the only reason Wayne is in a mess? Of not. Property values, particularly in Detroit, have fallen sharply, which means that a proposed tax hike would only bring revenues up to higher levels. Wayne County has suffered mightily because of foreclosures as well.
But it is not as though Livingston County doesn’t know the pain of foreclosures and declining property values. The difference is that the county leaders here define their job as managing the county’s finances, as opposed to raiding the taxpayers’ bank account.
I'd go further. Part of the drop in property values in Detroit (and suburbs) are due to job elected officials in Wayne County are doing. If you elect progressives, you get Detroit. It's a 50 year process, which started when the progressive left (both white and black) took control of Detroit in the 1960's. 62 mill property taxes are a choice. Bad schools and bad school officials don't happen by accident. High crime is tolerated there. Corruption is rampant. These are choices. People choose to live under that - or not. Can Detroit come back? Yes, if Detroiters choose to come back (and start elected better people and not progressives)
McNamara, Duggan, Granholm, Ficano, and Kwame were all cut from the same cloth and the same machine. It is not an accident what happened in Wayne County or Livingston County, which has been mostly Republican for 50+ years.
Elections have consequences.