Have Adequate City Services Become a Luxury?

What kinds of services should Detroiters expect from city government?

Sandra Svoboda

Residents in some of Detroit’s wealthiest neighborhoods will soon pay higher taxes for better city services. That includes better security and snow removal in places like Palmer Woods and Sherwood Forest. A recent change in city law makes it easier for community organizations to create these special assessment districts if a majority of residents sign off.

Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson talked to Detroit City Council member James Tate, who sponsored the measures allowing for special tax assessment districts in Detroit neighborhoods that can pay higher taxes for better city services. 

Tate told Henderson that this is, “an opportunity for the community to actually engage itself on its future. What do we want to look like going forward?” In response to Henderson pointing out that many neighborhoods don’t have this as an option, Tate said, “the neighbors themselves are the ones who determine if this is something that they want to do.” Tate explained that while he is focused on raising the so-called floor for all basic services, this is an extra tool for communities having a say in their future.

Detroit Today Producer Jake Neher talked to Palmer Woods resident Edwin Cole about his neighborhood’s tax increase. Cole says he’s conflicted, telling Neher that, “it’s good to a certain extent because we’ve had some break-ins…security for all of the associations has been cut back due to lack of funds,” but that “the taxes in the city are extremely high, that’s a fact.” In addition, Cole says, the city’s infrastructure is old and should be updated to attract new residents.

To hear more of Detroit Today’s conversation about city services, click the audio file above.