Archive for October, 2013

Is Dearborn Struggling or Thriving?

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Is Dearborn struggling or thriving?

Depending on what city council member you speak with (or those running for office) you are bound to get a different answer.

The Wall Street Journal says there are five resources one can use to really find out the truth and whether battered roads and sidewalks and higher taxes and fees point to deeper financial woes or just temporary strain.

The WSJ story is below:

1.  For an overview, check out the American Cities Project by Pew Charitable Trusts, a research nonprofit. They research and report on fiscal, economic and demographic issues for 30 major U.S. cities. Also check out reports and data on local finances published by the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government. And the National League of Cities publishes research, too.

2.  Moody’s Investors Service is a major credit-rating firm that looks at the finances of thousands of debt-issuers, including cities. In the right corner of the website, click on “Register” to sign up. Once you’ve created an account, search for your city in the bar in the upper left of the website and read the available credit reports.  If you’re unable to find your city or town, it might not be rated be Moody’s. Some research is available only for subscribers.

The reports on “G.O.,” meaning general obligation, bonds are generally the most straightforward if you want to grasp a city’s finances. Read the “Summary Ratings Rationale” and then the “Strengths” and “Challenges” for your city. Moody’s rates bond-deals using a letter-grade scale. Triple-A is the top, followed by the B-category on down. An outlook indicates the likely direction of future ratings. Stable means the rating is likely to stay the same; positive, up; and negative, down.

3.  This website, known as EMMA in the municipal-bond world, is a repository for bond documents cities publish when they sell debt. Enter your city in the “Quick Search” in the upper right corner of the website. (Note: It’s often helpful to type in “City of X,” as this will pull up information about the city and not other local government units.) This search will bring you to a page with a list of securities issued by your city. To get the most recent document, click on the third column “dated date.” Then click again. This should bring up the most recent documents.  Next, click on one of the links in the second column (“Issue Description”) and then click on the tab that says “Official Statement” to access the bond document. Look for the “economic and demographic information” section, which typically has interesting information about your city’s population, major employers and finances. The organization that runs EMMA is developing an easier way to find this information. Click here for a look at their pilot program.

4.  Every year, cities publish a Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, known as a CAFR. This massive document provides detailed information about your city’s finances. A simple way to locate the document is to Google your city’s name and the word “CAFR.” You can also look on your city’s finance department website. Or call your city for help locating this key document. Note that cities are often months late publishing the CAFR, so you may not be able to immediately locate the most up-to-date filing.

5.  Go to the U.S. Census Bureau for stats on your city and state. You can get figures on population, median household income and the poverty level. You can browse this data by county or city.

Kroger to Open New Gas Station in West Dearborn

Monday, October 28th, 2013
The Discount Tire store on Michigan Avenue in West Dearborn (shown here) has been razed and will be replaced with a new Kroger gas station.

The Discount Tire store on Michigan Avenue in West Dearborn (shown here) has been razed and will be replaced with a new Kroger gas station.

While it is always good to see vacant eyesores along Michigan Avenue in Dearborn come down, it can be kind of a letdown when you eventually discover the new business that could be moving in.

That’s the case with the demolition of the long-vacant Discount Tire store on Michigan, between Outer Drive and Nowlin streets.

City officials tell that Kroger is working with Dearborn to obtain permission to construct a Kroger gas station at that location. Kroger already operates a gas station on Ford Road in Dearborn Heights and this would be its second in the immediate area.

Now, we will be the first to admit that a new building – even if a gas station – is better than the vacant eyesore that the Discount Tire structure had become over the years.

It’s just that with so little new retail in downtown west Dearborn any time you see new construction, there is always the hope it will be something that becomes a destination. A gas station simply doesn’t live up to that dream . . .


Tractor-Pulled Hayride Tips Over at Camp Dearborn

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

At least two people were hospitalized and several others injured Sunday afternoon when a when a tractor-pulled hayride tipped over at Camp Dearborn in Milford, police said.

Milford police said there were multiple injuries, but none appeared to be life threatening, according to a Detroit Free Press article.

Ambulances responded to the accident, which involved 18 people, according to Karen Gabrys, a spokeswoman for Huron Valley Ambulance. She said the call came in at 5:43 p.m.. Huron Valley Ambulance, she said, transported two patients to a nearby hospital and both were in stable condition.

Other ambulances transported patients as well, Gabrys said.

Camp Dearborn, located at 1700 General Motors Rd. in Milford, is owned and operated by the city of Dearborn. Camp Dearborn has been operating tractor drawn hayrides for many years, hauling a maximum of 30 people per cart. Tickets are $7 per person with a minimum of 20 people per hayride.



Gloves Come Off in Dearborn City Council Race

Friday, October 25th, 2013

With just over a week until the election, things are getting heated and ugly in the race for Dearborn City Council.

Two candidates for Dearborn City Council are accusing each other of being ethically unfit to be a public official, pointing to what they say are past misdeeds, according to an article in today’s Detroit Free Press.

Candidate Steve Dobkowski Jr. cited police reports he obtained that show candidate Michael Sareini being involved in three assaults of women in his family, dating back 23 years.

Sareini in the Free Press accused Dobkowski of “a political ploy to get attention.”

He also countercharged that Dobkowski had his own past problems, noting that he was removed from the City Charter Commission in 2006 by the City Council after he failed to pay his property taxes for 13 years. By not paying his taxes, Dobkowski was violating the city charter.

The dispute between the two is part of a broader fight between two camps among the 14 City Council candidates vying for seven open seats in the Nov. 5 election.

See the rest of the story HERE.