Editorial: Vote no on huge Wayne city tax hike

The Detroit News

Desperate is one way to describe the inventive tactic the city of Wayne has concocted to more than double its local property taxes. Extreme is another.

Wayne will ask its voters on Aug. 2 to approve joining the South Macomb Oakland Regional Services Authority, a scheme hatched by Hazel Park and Eastpointe to allow the two communities to circumvent state constitutional limits on property taxes.

While state law strictly caps the amount of taxes a single community can levy, it allows two or more communities to create authorities for providing police and fire services, and levy a separate tax. Eastpointe and Hazel Park add an extra 14 mills.

And that’s what Wayne, which is in Wayne County, would do as well if voters in all three communities approve the authority. It would be a huge hit for Wayne taxpayers — an estimated $354 per household on the winter tax bill alone — but might stave off a bankruptcy filing if passed.

Wayne has been hit hard by falling property values and rising legacy costs. But the answer is not oppressive tax hikes that will drive more residents away.

Wayne has been doing cost-cutting, but will have to deal with how much of its budget goes to support benefits for current workers, and especially, retirees.

A merger with a neighboring community would be preferable to such a drastic tax hike. Voters in Hazel Park and Eastpointe have nothing to lose — the proposal won’t raise their already high taxes. But residents of Wayne should vote No.