Tax plan rejected by state

The state Treasurer's Office struck down a tax increase that was part of the financial recovery plan submitted by Emergency Manager Cathy Square.




By Charles Sercombe

          Relax homeowners, you won’t be paying a special 7-mill tax this year, or any year in the near future.

          The state Treasurer’s Office rejected one of the key financial remedies in Emergency Financial Manager Cathy Square’s recovery plan that was recently presented to the public.

          The tax would have raised $1.2 million to make the city’s pension fund financially stable. Instead of the tax, Square told The Review, “We’re going to work out a payment plan with MERS.”

          MERS, which stands for Michigan Employees’ Retirement System, is the state’s pension plan for public employees, and was created by the state legislature in 1945.

          Square’s financial recovery plan was rejected by a majority of city councilmembers and Mayor Karen Majewski for a variety of reasons, including opposition to the tax proposal.

          Reached by phone on Wednesday, Square shrugged off criticism of her plan by local officials, saying: “They’re politicians, and politicians make comments for political reasons.”

          The tax proposal rejection by the state wasn’t the only thing to go down this week. On Wednesday, Square fired Acting City Manager Kyle Tertzag, who was hired a little over a year ago by the city council before Square was appointed emergency manager.

          Also fired were Jason Friedmann, the Director of Community & Economic Development, and Darren Grow, the Manager of the Downtown Development Authority.

          Square’s former assistant, Kathy Angerer, will take the jobs of Friedmann and Grow.

          Square said she will not name an acting city manager until she is ready to exit from her job as emergency manager next July.

          “We were top heavy,” Square said about the cuts and consolidation of departments. “This city has to be leaner, and folks have to do more.”

          Square had high praise for Angerer, who had been an assistant to the acting city manager.

          “She’s got a lot of energy and has a can-do spirit,” Square said. “That’s what we need to move forward.”

          One of the roles of the acting city manager was to sit in on city council meetings. Square said that only the city clerk will put together the council agenda and attend council meetings to record council actions.

          Square said she will take over other duties of the acting city manager, such as overseeing the day-to-day operation of the city.

          “But I am not attending council meetings,” she said.

          Next on her agenda, Square said, is beginning negotiations with the unions representing firefighters and police officers.

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