A little while ago, in the thread "Ludington Welcomes New Owners of Longfellow Towers...", it was announced that Longfellow Towers was being purchased and would be renamed the Arbors.  In the change of hands, the City of Ludington decided to retain its payment in lieu of taxes (PILT) equal to 4% of contract rents charged at the Towers, about $10,300 annually, and charge a new municipal services fee equal to $20,750 on top of that.  A quick calculation shows that this more than triples the amount of fees/payments/taxes the city charged this property prior to this sale.  Many Torch members showed their disapproval, and wondered about the fate of the elderly tenants therein on their fixed incomes.


 Not surprisingly, the city council unanimously approved the retention of the PILT at 4% (see attachment, pp 3-5, Ordinance 209-10).  In these pages, the PILT is rightly ascribed as encouraging the provision of housing for the lower-incomed (and elderly, in this case) and the new owners must extend the PILT to receive tax credits from the state.  It says the PILT is an annual service charge for public services in lieu of taxes.  All this and more is in the ordinance.

 

At the very end of two pages of the PILT ordinance the clerk put this in one sentence:  “A Municipal Services Agreement (MSA) was also presented which would require Longfellow Towers to pay a new “municipal services fee” in the amount of $20,750 per year in addition to the PILT.”  This MSA was voted on and approved on a quick voice vote with no discussion, before the PILT ordinance was agreed to on a roll call vote.


 Here’s the problem, the PILT is a fee for use of public (municipal) services, so why is this “municipal services fee” differentiated from the PILT, and more than twice the amount?  As the city distinguished them separately, I did some research…


 And uncovered some disturbing facts.  In the Ludington Charter and City Code there is no such mention of a “municipal services fee”.  In Michigan law there is only two mentions of a “municipal services fee”, both deal with casinos/gaming (see attach 2).  MCL 432.213 and 432.224 (13).  A Google search of “municipal services fee” is likewise fruitless to justify this fee via the laws of Michigan and its localities, beyond gambling.

Is the Arbors going to be turned into a high stakes bingo hall, or is it just going to be more than  $20,000 overtaxed due to an illegal , baseless fee tacked onto the backs of cash-strapped senior citizens living on fixed incomes?

 
In the meeting it was said that the combination of the PILT and the municipal services fee would equal about the same as what would have been collected under the current millage rate.  This goes against the rationale for having a PILT in the first place, to encourage low-rent housing.

 

One must also wonder, what’s to stop the City of Ludington from adding this “municipal services fee” to anyone’s property taxesin Ludington?  I am passing my concerns over to the Michigan Attorney General’s Office, and I would suggest you should too if you know anyone who lives in these 149 apartments, live there yourself, or are just concerned that the laws should be followed and taxes shouldn't be tripled in the middle of a recession to those who can't afford it.
 

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The City Fathers/Council sure has a strange way of trying to attract out of town investors to our fair Ludville these days. Good investigation, hope it helps the seniors and the new Arbors owners somehow. Shay and his Shysters are experts in manipulations of codes and law interpretations, as this case clearly shows again.
I'm halfway thinking of starting up a referendum on this unlawful fee (to revoke it, after all the city had a surplus last year), but I've got to find at least four other foot soldiers to help out. At the same time I have an initiative or two which I also think would have quite a bit of popular support. More to come on this in the near future.
Good to know there is a watchdog looking out for those seniors, X. Thanks.
Unfortunately, I'm kept chained up most of the time!
Can someone or a family member of someone who lives there send our fair newspaper this question and some of the research? Perhaps a family member of a resident there can contact all our "so called" state representatives and ask them to step in here. I don't live in town, so have no say so on this. I do know some people who lived there and they did not have any extras to even cover some medications.
The LDN has dutifully reported the proposal and the passage of the same in the paper. Can you recall the last time they have had an editorial standing up for the rights of area citizens, compassionate for their plight, or critical of the city government? Neither can I... nope, still can't.

You did give me a good idea though, and you, Mary, and Aquaman would be great empathetic Ludington citizens if you guys were actually living in the city limits. Unfortunately, curtains of apathy within the city will have to be drawn open before meaningful progress can actually be achieved here.
I didn't see any of the "improvements" listed by the new owners as installing slot machines, Keno boards, and blackjack tables. Would be neat to see granny and gramps employed as croupiers.

I hope something can be done to help these poor seasoned citizens and thank once again X for giving us this update and wish you luck on any referendum you or others may start.

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