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Archive for the ‘taxes’ Category

The March 15, 2009, Plymouth Observer reported that officials of the Plymouth-Canton School District are trying to get their hands on millions of dollars in federal stimulus money.  The funds wouldn’t got to keeping teachers employed, anything to improve the curriculum or even balance the budget, but would got to several so-called “green” initiatives.

Superintendent Craig Fiegel enlisted the aid of a pair of consultants who have helped the district craft some $13 million in renewable energy projects slated for buildings across the district.The two drawing the most attention are a plan to cool off the gymnasiums, particularly at Plymouth High School, which can reach temperatures as high as 95 degrees during the summer, and covered, solar-heated walkways to provide cover for students moving between the Plymouth Canton Educational Park’s three buildings.

http://www.hometownlife.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2009903150529

The school district wants to spend the money on heated sidewalks and cooling a gymnasium during the summer — when are school gyms used in the summer? — while the district is looking to be $7.4 million in the red next in 2010-11.

If the Plymouth-Canton school board does nothing else and the numbers crunch the way the district’s financial team has planned, there will be enough money in the district’s projected $2 million deficit in 2009-10.

It’s the following year that really presents problems.

As budget predictions sit now, the school district faces a potential $7.4 million deficit in 2010-11, when it will have only about $2.5 million in its fund equity.

http://www.hometownlife.com/article/20090319/NEWS15/903190691/1032

What kind of sense does any of this make?  Our leaders want to cover and heat sidewalks while the school district is about ready to start hemorrhaging cash?

Maybe the argument is that stimulus money is supposed to be spent on projects that create jobs, not balancing budgets.  Even so, I see the school district’s proposals as madness — stupidity — in light of anticipated massive budget deficits.

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If you own a home in the City of Plymouth, you know that taxes here are pretty steep.  Cross the road into the township and watch thousands drop off your yearly tax bill.

Cities in this area are considerably cheaper to live in tax-wise, but city services elsewhere don’t match ours in town.  The recent snowfall highlighted this for me.

The big snow started falling early morning Friday.  By Saturday morning, our street here in town had been twice plowed and was passable.  My wife and I ate breakfast in Old Village and the sidewalks were being plowed and salted.  (Residents also do a great job of clearing their own sidewalks, something not common to every city.)  By noon Saturday, just about every street and sidewalk was cleared.  We were able to safely jog from one end of town to the other.

By contrast, other neighboring cities were still a mess.  My mother lives in Westland.  Saturday afternoon, her street was no clearer than after the snowfall.  No plows had been down her street.

We also shopped in Canton along Ford Road.  Roads like Morton-Taylor were still a complete mess.  The sidestreets we took to avoid traffic backups were pretty rough, too.  They had not been touched at all.

I understand that it’s a bit more doable to clear the streets in the City of Plymouth because we’re a smaller town.  Westland and Canton are large cities with eight to ten times our population and easily as many more homes and streets and roads.  Larger cities like that, at least in terms of volume, should have considerably larger tax bases.  One would think those cities would be better equipped to provide services than a smaller city for the fact that they have more money to spend.

This has been a good reminder for me to not gripe about taxes.  Sure we pay more than we would elsewhere, but our city better responds to our needs than other places.  I’d rather pay 40% more in taxes and get 100% better service than the other way around.

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I’ve been lauding the opening of the Sheldon-M-14 railroad underpass.   It’s going to be a tremendous convenience to the people of Plymouth and Sheldon Road commuters.

I was shocked, though, to learn several things per today’s Plymouth Observer the most amazing being that the The entire project, which is not fully completed, cost $15,000,000. Yes, that’s right, 15 with 6 0’s behind it.  The project was originally slated to cost $8,000,000.

That’s a staggering amount of money.  I certainly hope that the convenience is worth it to the people of this area.  We’re the ones who are paying for it.

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Merry Christmas citizens of Plymouth (and surrounding areas.) After nearly two years, the Sheldon Road-M-14 underpass is open.  What a relief!

No longer will we have to drive through the middle of the City and/or Old Village to get to Northville or northwestern Livonia. If there are trains running through the middle of town, we can finally head under them at Sheldon Road.

My daughter went to school in Northville for two years and most of that time, our commute to school had to go through town due to  the underpass construction.  I can’t count how many times she was late for school because of trains.  Even when we started the trip with plenty of time to spare, trains (or the resulting backup) could take 10, 15 minutes or more to clear.  It was a headache, a maddening, soul-chomping commuter’s nightmare.

I can’t wait to use the underpass.  I think I’m going to drive it today just to do it, just for the hell of it.

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