Assessor with heart seeks help for poor
September 03, 2008
A friend informed me this week that he was surprised to see so many people out and about lately, driving great distances to get to their destinations and then seemingly spending a lot of money once they get there.
Frankly, I hadn't noticed. But if he's right, fewer people than believed are struggling to make ends meet in this economy.
From where I stand and in the circles in which I walk, just about everyone is hurting financially — at least they say they are.
One thing is certain: Those individuals and families that were scraping to get by before the economy took a hit, are now literally living at poverty's door.
To help a few of them, Imlay City's assessor Pat Haney has appealed to city commissioners to cut them a break on their property taxes.
Haney recently submitted a letter requesting that the city consider raising its poverty guideline by 25 percent, thereby offering some minimal tax relief to residents on the cusp of losing their homes and property.
The federal poverty-level standard is an annual income of $10,400 for an individual, and $3,600 for each additional member of a household.
According to Michigan law, municipalities have the power to adjust the poverty guidelines, as long as they are not lower than the federal guidelines. This means that if city commissioners choose, they can help out a handful or so of residents whose incomes are desperately low, but are still too high to benefit from any tax relief.
An assessor with a heart may not be the norm, but it's refreshing to know that Imlay City has one. Better yet, Haney's human kindness appears to be shared by some members of the city's Board of Review.
Board of Review member Greg Dennis was at the Aug. 19 commission meeting, seconding Haney's request that the city raise the poverty guideline. Dennis stressed that while he is not in favor of entitlements nor handouts, he does support individuals and families who are trying hard but simply can't keep up with the cost of living.
While as my friend suggests, a lot of folks remain insulated from the worst effects of the economic downturn, there are nevertheless growing numbers who are genuinely in trouble.
It is reported that an estimated 70-90 homes in Imlay City have either been abandoned or are in the process of foreclosure.
With so many being forced to bail out of their mortgages and homes, it's encouraging to know there are a few people willing to help them out; including an assessor with a heart.
Editor's note: The city commission was expected to discuss the the request at last night's (Tues., Sept. 2) meeting, making any decision on the matter too late for inclusion in this week's edition.