Inkster residents face tax hike in beating settlement

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

The city of Inkster is seeking a one-time tax hike this summer from residents to help pay for a million-dollar settlement with a motorist filmed being beaten by a police officer during a traffic stop.

An emotional Floyd Dent tells his story about his beating arrest at a news conference in March. His attorney Gregory J. Rohl is in the background.

The July 1 tax bill levies 6.45 mills, city treasurer Mark Stuhldreher said Monday. For a resident who has property with a $40,000 market value, that means roughly $130 more, he said.

Mayor Hilliard Hampton said the city needed to generate enough for the nearly $1.4 million settlement with Floyd Dent, who sued the city over the videotaped beating.

Inkster's liability insurance policy allows only for payouts above $2 million, Stuhldreher said.

Although the city has a surplus and is out of debt, a consent agreement it has operated under for several years restricts tapping the general fund to finalize such settlements, Hampton said. "Our options are limited."

The higher tax is due by Aug. 31, Stuhldreher said. Citing the city's average delinquency rate, he expected 70 percent to be paid through February before delinquent taxes are turned over to the county, with the rest by late June 2016.

The tax hike is the latest fallout from the January beating incident.

Last week, a judge ordered the former police officer captured on video striking Dent to stand trial on charges of misconduct in office and assault with intent to do great bodily harm. Judge Sabrina Johnson also allowed the prosecution's request for an additional charge of assault by strangulation: a 10-year felony.

Dent was the lone witness called during former Officer William Melendez's preliminary examination.

Melendez, who faces arraignment in Wayne County Circuit Court next week, was fired from the Inkster Police Department in April. Two other officers were suspended up to 30 days for their roles in the incident.

Vicki Yost, the city's police chief at the time of the beating, resigned days after Melendez was charged. Joe Thomas was named Inkster's interim police chief last month.