GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Former Grand Rapids City Commissioner Rick Tormala said heunderstands the need and supports the effort in the vote togenerate more income taxes.
Voters will be asked to approve the measure in a specialelection May 4 to bring back laid-off police officers andfirefighters.
But Tormala had questions on the price tag of the special vote-- since voters will return to the same polls in the fall.
"$85,000 is not chump change, especially to ordinary citizens,"he said. "It's more than a police officer or a firefighter."
Said GR City Manager Greg Sundstrom: "That is the the cost forasking citizens to vote."
The city could combine the income tax vote with issues on theAugust or November ballots, Sundstrom added. But the city needs the$7 million a 'yes' vote would generate sooner rather thanlater.
A 'yes' vote allows the city to start collecting the additionaltax July 1.
"If they're not asked now, I will be compelled to makesignificant cuts for our budget year that begins July 1," Sundstromsaid.
There are similar situations in Kentwood and Wyoming; bothcities also have scheduled special elections May 4 to ask for moremoney.
But a suburban Detroit legislator doesn't see the sense in thescheduling, and wants to streamline the process and save money.
Sen. Michael Switalski, D-Roseville, is offering up a measurethat would allow local elections in even-numbered years and stateand federal elections in odd-numbered years.
Special elections, such as the ones scheduled for May 4, wouldbe held in November of either year.
"You can't justify saying, 'hey, I'm broke, I need money' andthen spend money on elections that you could hold for free,"Switalski said.
Tormala said he understands the reasoning behind scheduling thespecial election. But, he said, supporters of the tax increase needto do a better job of explaining their reasoning.
"When you're going to the public, especially in this climate, toask them to raise their taxes, you need to be really transparentwith them and give them all the facts," he said.
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