Saturday, October 20, 2007

They meet in secret and don't keep notes

what could possibly go wrong.


DETROIT -- A little-known city committee empowered to give property tax exemptions to needy residents has awarded tax breaks worth thousands of dollars to apparently well-to-do homeowners, a three-month investigation by The Detroit News has found.

In some of the most egregious cases, people who own multiple houses, drive luxury vehicles and live in homes worth more than $500,000 have been granted "hardship exemptions" by the nine-member committee, which is appointed by the Detroit City Council.

The Hardship Committee keeps no notes, meets in private, has no staff and conducts no investigations of applicants. It has granted more than 14,000 applications totaling $15 million in tax exemptions over the past seven years.