Nearly half of Detroit's property owners didn't pay their taxes last year, indicating the financial troubles of the debt-stricken city's residents and the ongoing cycle of declining revenues and diminished services for those residents.
The Detroit News reviewed more than 200,000 pages of tax documents and found that 47 percent of the city's 305,000 taxable parcels are delinquent on their 2011 bills.
"Why pay taxes?" asked Fred Phillips, who owes more than $2,600 on his home. "Why should I send them taxes when they aren't supplying services? It is sickening. ... Every time I see the tax bill come, I think about the times we called and nobody came."
Simple services like paying for electricity for the crime-ridden city's streetlights have fallen by the wayside. Just a few months ago, the city announced it was going to start shutting it's police stations after 4 p.m.
Leola Wesley paid $810 last year for her home near Chalmers — the only resident on her 32-parcel block who paid, Detroit News reports.
"It makes me not want to pay," she said. "If nobody else is paying, why should I?"
Ms. Wesley, who lives next to two vacant lots, said she's lucky if she ever sees a police car patrol her block.
Detroit has the highest property taxes among big cities nationwide and many houses are assessed at more than 10 times their market price, according to new research from two Michigan professors, Detroit News reports.
A review team appointed by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder to analyze Detroit's financial situation unanimously determined Tuesday that the city is in a financial emergency and has "no satisfactory plan" to resolve the crisis.
Detroit faces a $327 million budget deficit in the current fiscal year. The city's share of uncollected taxes last year was $131 million.
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Jessica Chasmar is a continuous news writer for The Washington Times. Previously, she was part of the start-up team for The Washington Times’ digital aggregation product, Times247. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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