Proposed street tax up for vote in Lowell

Kent County

LOWELL, Mich. (WOOD) — A car ride can be very bumpy in Lowell these days and city leaders say it’s not going to get much better considering the money on hand.

“This is a situation where you’re really get to pick between death or dismemberment. There are no good solutions,” said Lowell City Manager Mike Burns. “Ninety-one percent of our streets currently are either fair or poor. Out of the 91%, 67 are poor.”

To address the issue, Lowell city leaders are asking voters to approve a road levy, in the form of an income tax.

If approved by voters in November, city residents will be assessed 1% on adjusted gross income. Nonresidents who are employed in the city will be assessed an income tax rate of a half percent of adjusted gross income.

Based on median incomes in Lowell, that adds up to $6.30 a week for residents and $4.81 a week for nonresidents in taxes.

“As part of this tax, we would offset residential property taxes by five mills,” Burns said.

About $1.2 million would be raised in the first year.

After the offset from the property millage decrease and administrative costs, an estimated $770,000 would be used for road repairs.

The tax would remain in effect for 15 years.

About a dozen people showed up at the city hall to discuss the plan on Tuesday.

Some see the need, but not everyone.

“It’s going to significantly affect our profitability there, of having another percent tax put on our profit,” said Pat Gilbert, who owns Metric Manufacturing, a local auto supply manufacturer.

His company would also get hit as part of the proposed tax.

“I think the increase in taxes is going to drive the business and people away from the Lowell area,” Gilbert said.

But Burns says that’s not the case in other communities that levy income taxes.

“City of Detroit. City of Grand Rapids. Granted their much larger.

But you’re seeing businesses come to those cities,” Burns said.

The other challenge supporters of the proposed income tax may face road tax fatigue.

Despite the back and forth between the Governor and lawmakers in Lansing, there is still the chance you may eventually be paying more at the pump for roads.

“The people are definitely going to be questioning why we need both this tax to pay for the roads and that,” Gilbert said. “I understand about the difference between the state roads and the local roads, but I don’t think the general population will.”

Officials will host a third and final forum at 6 p.m. on Oct. 16 at City Hall.

More details about the proposal can be found online

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