Oct 22, 2007
Wealthy residents of the City of Detroit are regularly getting “hardship” breaks on their property taxes.
A small city panel called the “Hardship Committee” has the power to decide which residents will be awarded these tax breaks. Though the program is supposed to benefit people whose income is below the poverty level, and with less than $5,000 in assets, the Committee regularly awards tax breaks to people making far more than that: people with homes worth over half a million dollars, who drive several luxury cars, and own boats.
In fact, the wealthiest areas of the city get the biggest number of “hardship” tax breaks. The areas with the greatest number of poor people get virtually no hardship tax breaks.
The “Hardship Committee” is made up of nine people, each appointed by one city council member. The only requirement is that they live in the city of Detroit; even so, several have big suburban homes with one in the city – for appearances, perhaps? One committee member, Roslyn Trotter, voted to award a $6,000 tax break to the wife of her lawyer – who represented her when she was charged with fraud. Another, the Rev. Loyce Lester, became infamous for spewing vile insults in Detroit school board meetings at parents trying to protect their kids. He claimed to hold an MBA from the University of Detroit and a doctorate of divinity from the University of Chicago. Both were found to be false.
These are the people whom the city council appointed to the “hardship” panel – a panel that keeps no records and makes no investigations; a panel that meets in private.
A panel that makes sure that the wealthy get the tax breaks meant for the indigent... and the indigent get nothing.