Detroit City Council Formal Session

Detroit City Council
Politics

Tuesday, March 26, 2024
10:00 a.m. — 2:00 p.m. EDT

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Reporting

Edited and summarized by the Detroit - MI Documenters Team

Note-taking by Hannah Mathers

City assessor and deputy CFO Alvin Horhn denies there is a systemic problem with property overassessment in Detroit. Councilmembers approved a resolution requesting a reassessment of the city's lowest value homes, and a resolution supporting a moratorium on some foreclosures.

Live reporting by Benjamin Haddix

Councilmembers talk property tax overassessment with city assessor Alvin Horhn, who said the Board of Review is closed and complaints should be referred to the State Tax Commission. The council also approved a resolution to support a continued moratorium on some foreclosures.

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09:00 AM Mar 26, 2024 CDT

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Here is a link to today's agenda:
pub-detroitmi.escribemeetings.com/Meeting.aspx?I…
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Annnd meeting has been called to order
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The pastor offering the invocation asks God to help the council remember the citizens of Detroit who have been over taxed, are losing their homes, and are owed money by the city…
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Lilianna Angel Reyes, the director of the LGBTQ youth drop-in service at the Detroit's Ruth Ellis Center, is being presented with the Spirit of Detroit award.
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Absent from today's meeting: Angela Whitfield Calloway – District 2, Fred Durhal III – District 7, and Coleman A. Young II – City Council At Large.
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And like that, Member Calloway has just joined.
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Public comments are now beginning
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Multiple comments regarding: Detroit's over-taxation of it's people, and April being sexual assault awareness month.
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Member Santiago-Romero just shouted out activist frequent public commenter Marguerite Maddox and an Outlier Media article discussing her work:
outliermedia.org/marguerite-mad…
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A lot of discussion regarding Detroit Property Tax (historical and present injustices) and specifically the University of Chicago study regarding the over-taxing / over-assessments.
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I have not looked deeply into this, but here is online documentation of the UChicago study:
propertytaxproject.uchicago.edu
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And specifically here is the research for Wayne county:
s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/propertytaxdat…
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Professor Bernadette Atuahene with University of Southern California speaks in the public comments to remind the city about it's lack of follow through with promised annual Assessment-Ratio Study. She suggests that it is for this reason that all we have to work with is…
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… the UChicago study. The Coalition for Property Justice has research by Prof. Atuahene regarding Detroit property taxes:
illegalforeclosures.org/research
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I have not read this, but here is the piece of Prof. Atuahene's research (could be useful/illuminating):
scholarlycommons.law.northwestern.edu/cgi/viewconten…
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Public comments has ended.
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Member Young II joined the meeting about 15 minutes ago.
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Note of previous comment regarding Prof. Atuahene: Sans exact quotes I took away that she was suggesting that while the city was busy disputing and limiting the existing research, they were also not honoring a commitment to it's own Annual Assessment studies. […]
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[…] As a researcher of the subject herself, I gather she knows there is more existing research than just the UChicago study.
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(I didn't mean to imply she herself was limiting the research to just one source)
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Detroit Assessor Alvin Horn is discussing / answering questions regarding the assessment of property in Detroit.
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He says, in terms of the UChicago research (which I gather is the primary source for the council's process in reviewing the assessment in the city): "That report cannot be the basis for our action. It simply does not comply with Michigan Law."
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The council is asking Horn when a contract can be provided for the city to do its own research into property assessments or malpractice therein. He gives a very unclear answer. He said (my paraphrasing) he just earlier sent a text trying to find out that very thing.
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Member Young II ask Horn why advocates have not gone to the level of the state to try to take this up with the Michigan Tax Commission. Horn suggests because advocates have not done that, it says everything.
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annnd that seems dishonest. Though I would have to ask all the people working on this issue on the grassroots level of the people
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Horn says the reason for the delay for the contract with an independant evaluator has to do with other organizational bodies (missed which he said) not wanting to get involved because “This has become an attraction. Unfortunately a bit of a circus.”
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(So I guess the frustration of people who've had their money stolen, the suggestion of malpractice, and the demand for justice is a "circus".)
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So to be clear, Horn's suggestion is that the IIAO (International Association of Assessing Officers) has "cold feet" and is hesitating to take on the contract of evaluating Detroit Assessment practices.
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*IAAO
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Deputy Chief Financial Officer Sandra Stahl jumps on the call to say that IAAO IS in fact ready to finalize the contract. This is promising, if not a bit confusing.
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The discussion with Horn is over. There was a lot going on there. The council passes a resolution to send the "lower value homes" to the assessors officer for review. The consequences of this I'm not sure I totally understand.
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If I had to characterize Horn's mode of responding to the council I would say defensive. Defensive of his office's work and resistant to honoring the idea that properties had been over-assessed. That was my impression.
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The meeting is adjourned at 1:18pm
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If you believe anything in these notes is inaccurate, please email us at documenters@outliermedia.org with “Correction Request” in the subject line.
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This concludes my coverage of the Detroit City Council meeting. Learn more about our coverage of local meetings here:
Documenters.org

Attachments

Agency Information

Detroit City Council

www.detroitmi.gov

See Documenters reporting

The Detroit City Council is the legislative body of Detroit, Michigan, United States. The Council is responsible for the creation of local laws—called ordinances. Additionally they pass resolutions, motions, and the proposed city budget. The full-time council is required to meet every business day for at least 10 months of the year, with at least eight of these meetings occurring at a location besides city hall. The council may convene for special meetings at the call of the mayor or at least four members of council. Areas of responsibility for the Budget, Finance and Audit Committee include, Budget, Finance and the Auditor General.

City Council members are elected on the same cycle as the Mayor and will be elected in 2021. Seven members represent the seven council districts, while two members are elected at-large.

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