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Got your tax bill? Escrow it!

The Republican leadership in the state has launched a full frontal attack on Detroit, specifically, and Black communities around the state. As Rev. D. Alexander Bullock says, emergency management appears to be Gov. Rick Snyder’s urban agenda.

Last week, the governor walked out of a meeting with pastors, refusing to answer the question: Are you going to put the question of Public Act 4 (PA4), the emergency manager law, on the November ballot?

Over 226,000 voters signed valid petitions asking that citizens be allowed to vote on the legitimacy of PA4 in the November election. Yet Republicans, aided by the silence of the Democrats, have maneuvered to see that voters do not get to judge PA4. Meanwhile, emergency managers are busy waging war on citizens with unchecked, unsupervised and unaccountable authority.

Most property owners received their property tax bill within the past few days. The bill tells the tale. Taxed to the maximum allowed by the state at 64.77230 mills, Detroit taxpayers have no say over most of the money they will pay. Six mills go to the state education fund; 13 mills go to school debt; 5.83 mills to school operations; and .096 mills to pay off a judgment against the schools.

Detroit Public Schools (DPS) Emergency Manager Roy Roberts controls all that money. He has used it to close schools and establish the Educational Achievement Authority (EAA). The EAA is taking control of brand-new buildings that Detroit taxpayers continue to finance (see school debt, 13 mills) now and in the future.

Roberts, doing Gov. Snyder’s bidding, has relegated the elected board to the Frederick Douglass school building, while he works from the top floors at the Fisher Building. Parents trying to get transfers or other services are stumbling over the boxes and clutter of the makeshift offices. Detroiters also pay 4.6 mills for the library, which Roy Roberts says he, as EM of DPS, has the authority to rule.

Michigan merit exams were announced last week. The news was as expected: scores for Black students continue to decline. After a decade of state-controlled education in Detroit, only 1.8 percent of DPS students are college-ready, according to the tests, and 16 DPS high schools had no college-ready students. This is a tragedy we are allowing, one that will extend for generations.

Now, with the Consent Agreement (CA), there is taxation without representation in the governance of the city as well. Under the newly created CA, bureaucracy costs are mounting as governance removes itself further from the citizens. The 27.6 mills that taxpayers feed into the city’s general fund will now be controlled not by City Council, but the CA boards and appointees. The debt service funds, 9.61 mills, will be disposed of by the CA.

Yes, taxation without representation, a complete lack of accountability in government. The plight of the children under the EM-run schools cries to heave for vengeance. It is time for meaningful direct action. Take back your civil rights. Make a future for our children. You have the power.

Open a savings account at any bank or credit union of your choice and put the amount of your tax bill into that account. Hold on to it. You have two years before the penalties get overwhelming. If enough taxpayers say they have been disrespected long enough, the children deserve better, that they think we are capable of self-governance and put their money into escrow, then hopefully we can run these bloodsuckers out of town.

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