One of my favorite lines from "Clear and Present Danger" occurs when the president's advisors are discussing what to say about the discovery one of the president's close friends was laundering money for a drug cartel.
The President's advisors suggested that if the news became public, they could defuse it by downplaying the President's association with Hardin. Ryan suggested the opposite - if the President were to be asked if he and Hardin were good friends, he should answer: "We're lifelong friends...There's no sense defusing a bomb after it's already gone off."The budget bomb has gone off in Ferndale just as it has the rest of the country. Pretending the collateral damage is a measly 11% is a whitewash of the problem and insulting to voters' intelligence.
Ferndale's operating millage is currently 14.5448 mills. If approved, the May ballot proposal will allow council to raise that rate to 20 mills by 2013. To keep all the deniers honest I'll show my work.
Another way we can find this number, or one very close to it, is by figuring out how big the deficit is as a percentage of the revenue Ferndale's general fund receives from property taxes.20 - 14.5448 = 5.4552 (the increase) 5.4552 / 14.5448 = 0.375061878 0.375061878 * 100 = 37.5061878% (the percentage) round(37.5061878) = 38%
According to the budget estimates for fiscal year ending 2012, Ferndale anticipates property tax receipts of $7,573,000. The budget deficit is estimated in the same document to be $2.3 million.
So, which property tax increase do you think has a better chance of covering a 30% hole; a 38% increase or an 11% increase?2,300,000 / 7,573,000 = 0.303710551 0.303710551 * 100 = 30.3710551 round(30.3710551) = 30%
Some people confuse my supporting FACT's publishing the millage is a 38% increase over the Yes to Ferndale's Future's 11% increase as evidence my support for the millage is superficial. What it really demonstrates is my commitment to honesty and integrity, especially when lying is too easily proven by doing simple math (which I think should be a prerequisite to running for office).
Saying the increase is anything other than 38% is an attempt to make the tax increase more palatable to voters. This is also known as spin, and is disrespectful to voters and property tax payers.
11% is wrong not just because it's unsupported by math, but because it trivializes Ferndale's desperate budget situation. If the budget was only short 11%, then I'd advocate a NO vote and demand city council find 11% to cut. An 11% deficit is not an emergency. An 11% deficit does not warrant a Headlee override.
Instead, our budget deficit is an emergency. The city can not replace over 30% of its revenue with traffic tickets or parking meter fines. Our city's obligations to its retirees, whatever voters think of its extravagance or past-councils' approval of such rich benefits, can not be addressed with budget resolutions, wishful thinking, or understatement.
No, our city's deficit is real, it's large, and it requires appropriate and proportionate action to remediate.
There are other problems with both the Yes and No camps' literature and public statements I may address in future posts. In February I recommended to voters what they should do in both May and November, and unless someone proves my numbers wrong I stand by my recommendations.