East Lansing residents, workers weigh proposed income tax

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On Nov. 7, East Lansing voters will vote on a two-part tax proposal. The first would raise the income tax 1 percent  for residents, and 0.5 percent  for nonresidents who work in the city.

The second part would  reduce the property tax millage from 17 mills to a maximum of 13 mills.

Mark Wojchik, manager at Curious Book Shop located at 307 E Grand River Ave., is not a resident of the city; but he does work there.

“I think it is a pretty bad idea, I do not think it will raise enough revenue to be worth the amount of trouble it is going to cause,” Wojchik said.

Wojchik will not be able to vote in the East Lansing election, but it could make him pay the 0.5 percent tax on income earned in the city.

“It really looks bad for people who are thinking about moving here, doing business here, or going to school here,” Wojchik said. “The amount of the tax is not very much, but the amount of paperwork alone makes it not worth it.”

If the proposal is passed, revenue will be used to improve amenities such as roads, sidewalks and parks.

“For the city, we hope it will be better revenues. That is the long-term effect we are looking for,” East Lansing Mayor Mark Meadows said.

“We have talked about putting sort of a poverty level limit in there not as a deduction, but that if you make less than $10,000 — or it might be less than that — a year as your household income then you would pay no tax at all,” Meadows said.

If the proposal fails, city officials have said 14 positions would be cut from  police, fire, and EMS services. 

Katie Diller, director at St. John’s Catholic Church, said, “I do understand that communities need taxes. That’s how we have communities. As much as it will suck to have a little less money, I do support good social systems like the ambulances, fire trucks, and police, so at the end of the day I am not against taxes. You can take my money, and make a better community.” 

Currently, 22 Michigan communities have an income tax.

“I hope there will be reasonable use of that money. I understand some of the budget problems are due to petition funds that were maybe not managed well. I hope the city will take a take a close look at how these new funds are managed so it doesn’t snowball.”