Thursday, April 10, 2014

Why does Dennis Dahlmann oppose the Transit Millage?

Some folks have noticed that some Anti-Transit Millage signs have sprouted up at the Old Y Lot that Dennis Dahlmann just purchased. Why would Ann Arbor's premier downtown hotel owner oppose the expansion of the AAATA's bus service? Honestly, I do not know. What I do know is that if the millage passes, it will cost Mr. Dahlmann and his various businesses in the AAATA area a good deal more in annual property taxes. Mr. Dahlmann (1) owns 18 properties in Washtenaw County. 16 of the properties are within the AAATA Millage Area: one, the old Ypsilanti Train Depot is in the City of Ypsilanti and the remaining 15 in the City of Ann Arbor. Those properties have a combined assessed value of about $22 million (2) and a taxable value capped at just under $17.3 million (3). This means that if the transit millage passes, Mr. Dahlmann's taxes will go up about $12,000 per year. Now, that might not seem a lot for someone who owns nearly $25 million of property in the county. However, if we calculate the net present value of the future cost of $12,000 per year over a 15 year time horizon using a discount rate of 4% (4), we get $139,000. So from Mr. Dahlmann's point of view it may be worth it to spend up to 139k to defeat the Transit Millage. Then again, Mr. Dahlmann may not be acting selfishly, perhaps he wants to save us from an expansion of public transit and all the convenience it brings. Nobody really knows except for Mr. Dahlmann (5).

Photo via: @ryanjstanton

(1) And his various corporations: Dahlmann Florida Corporation, Dahlmann Apartments Ltd, Dahlmann Liberty, LLC.
(2) Assessed and taxable value were calculated from County records. I used MapWashtenaw to search for "Dahlmann" in order to identify parcels owned by Mr. Dahlman and his various corporations.
(3) For the purpose of these calculations the assessed and taxable value of the recently purchased Y Lot was assumed to be 1/2 the purchase price of $5.25 million.
(4) I used this web-based annuity calculator for all the hard math. (5) In all fairness, I don't know if Mr. Dahlmann placed the signs on his property. The signs could have been put on the old Y Lot by someone else.


  1. We need "DAHLMANN: BAD CITIZEN" signs

  2. If part of the transit millage increase is to pay for the commuter train, he may stand to benefit much more than he pays out in taxes since it is likely they would add a stop to Ypsilanti. The logical place to do that would be the train depot. But who knows...