Special Assessment District FAQ’s


Why is UDCA pursuing Special Assessment Designation?

  • After the City ordinance was passed (December 2014) creating a process by which a neighborhood could become a Special Assessment District, UDCA asked UD residents (survey) if they wanted to do so. Two thirds of respondents replied: Yes.
  • The UDCA then applied to the City and was designated as a Designated Neighborhood Improvement Organization (DINO for short). DINOs implement and manage the SAD services.
  • Our first petition effort secured >60% of the signatures of UD property owners. This confirmed that the majority of our neighbors want this designation. As the Board, our role is to serve the will of our members. In this case, we are pursuing the will of the majority of UD property owners.

How much will it cost?

  • $175 per year for each property owner. This provides 16 more hours/day of the same unarmed (officer in a mid-sized sedan) services we’ve had for 15 years. Not Hummers driven by armed guards as with Magnum for example. Magnum’s services would cost more than twice as much per property owner.
  • $175 is 3.5% of a $5,000/year property tax bill. 2.9% of a $6,000 property tax bill. This would be the second lowest cost item (out of 9) on our bills. The lowest is Wayne County Regional Education Support Agency (Quick! Any idea what that is?). 
  • $175/year is also 48 cents/day!
  • Neighboring SAD communities are paying up to $450/year.

What’s the status?

  • Our second set of petitions (which >55% of property owners signed) were submitted to the City Assessor’s office for processing in January. We await another round of public hearings and City Council approval of University District’s SAD designation.

What is a Special Assessment District?

A special assessment district can be established to fund three services, Security, Snowplowing, and Mosquito abatement.   The costs of those services are shared by everyone in that neighborhood through a special assessment that would appear on the summer tax bill.

What will happen if the is extra money left over?

When surplus funds are available we can channel that money into other security measures like Secondary Employment, Traffic Calming measures, cameras etc. It will also allow for better snow plowing and salting.

What is DPD Secondary Employment?

The Detroit Police Department offers a service that allows private or public entities to “hire” a Detroit police officer in a DPD car to patrol their area or event. That officer and car are under our direction and will respond or patrol as we direct. This would not interfere with that officer’s regular schedule or patrol and we have hired them before during home tours to increase police presence. The SAD may choose to spend some of the security money to have sporadic patrols dedicated to traffic enforcement. The best example of secondary employment is the officers we see at Meijer’s on 8 mile. However our fall trial program revealed that it can be very expensive especially because of the insurance required.

How and when will the money be collected for the Special Assessment?

The $175 will be added to your summer August tax bill. The City gets a 1% cut as a collection fee and the rest of the money is forwarded to us with in a few weeks. This is governed by state law.

Does this mean that we will no longer have association dues?

No.  The ordinance does not allow replacing association dues.   Removing snow plowing from the association budget will allow us to do more with the association dues.  Some examples of what we will be able to do with our association dues are: more family friendly activities, replace our aging signs, improve our park (Belden Orchard), and support traffic calming efforts.

What about our dues to the University District Patrol? (Subscriber Patrol)

The assessment will provide for security patrols so current UDP members won’t have to continue paying. We anticipate leaving the UDP in place and having them manage the security portion of our SAD.

Who will provide the aforementioned services for our neighborhood?

The committee is committed to making sure that our residents have the best service providers possible for security, snow removal, and mosquito abatement. We have vetted service providers and reviewed quotes for the best value. Our preference is to use Detroit-based contractors. We are NOT required to use the lowest bidders.

What is Mosquito Habitat Abatement and why do we need it?

Mosquitos are a disease transfer concern. A few years back the bird flu swooped into town and none of the cities had plans to control the mosquitos that were spreading the disease. We will be ready for Zika! Mosquito habitat control is the safest method of reducing them. Standing water and overgrown foliage are the primary targets. We have the city’s approval to use larvicide tablets in the catch basins (they last one month) WE WOULD NOT support area spraying or fogging nor would we do this for any reason other than disease control. If the Zika virus arrives in Detroit and the city is not prepared to deal with it we will be prepared. According to mosquito-control.com they typically only travel one mile from their breeding site.

How will the UDCA administrate the Special Assessment?

We will have the existing committee manage it for the first 3 years. The committee structure includes residents, board members and officers of the Radio Patrol and Subscriber Patrol (UDP). The book keeping and banking will be kept separate from the UDCA. An annual audit will be provided and the budget and expenses will be posted online. All UDCA board meetings are posted at UDCA.Info and residents are welcome to attend. If you would like to be on the agenda please contact the Secretary.

Will this Special Assessment be effective in perpetuity?

No.  The ordinance allows a 7 year period.   At any time during that period, the neighborhood can petition the city to dissolve our assessment if it is dissatisfied with the services being provided.  The assessment can be terminated with 51% of the signatures of parcel owners.

What role does the City play in this?

The entire process of establishing a SAD is established by the city and the ordinance. They will hold public hearings that anyone can attend. City Council ultimately votes to approve or not and holds a Public Hearing at which any resident can speak. If we have a SAD the City collects the assessment on your summer property taxes, collects a 1% fee and then forwards the funds to the Designated Neighborhood Improvement Organization for our use.

Foreclosure Concerns:

The question is often raised about foreclosure for not paying the assessment. It is part of your summer tax bill (which can be split into half payments) and failure to pay your taxes will result in foreclosure. Most people won’t openly admit they are having difficulty but the UDCA want you to be aware of resources available to help prevent loss through foreclosure:
TAX FORECLOSURE PREVENTION PROJECT
UNITED COMMUNITY HOUSING COALITION and MICHIGAN LEGAL SERVICES
2727 Second Avenue, Suite #313 (313) 963-3310 and (313) 964- 4130