Charlotte Looking Into City Income Tax to Fix Roads

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Take a drive down Harris Street in Charlotte and you'll run into quite a few potholes.

It's the same situation on most of the city's roads and Councilwoman Mary Jean Baker says there's no more money to fix them.

"If we don't do something to fix our roads, we'll be driving on gravel streets before we know it," she said. "We have to come up with the plan."

The idea for an income tax first came up about a year ago and now, the council sees it as the best option to raise revenue.

"They have asked that a proposal be put before them so that they could begin debating to see if they want to put this in front of voters in November," said City Manager Gregg Guetschow.

According to Guetschow, roughly 80 percent of the city's roads are in fair to poor condition. A city income tax would pay for the $500,000 bill to them and then some.

"We expect that we would generate between $1.1 and $1.5 million with an income tax," said Guetschow. "We have another half-a-million to a million dollars that might turn into tax relief in another form for residents, as well."

Samantha Harkins of the Michigan Municipal League says it's a method that several other cities have looked at, in recent years, but have failed to get passed.

"We're just so limited in the ways we can raise revenues and as difficult as that voter hurdle may be in some communities, we have to come up with ways to continue to provide things," she said.

The council is hoping to make a decision on whether or not to put the question on the ballot by early June, when the budget is finalized. They're hoping to hear from the public as soon as possible.

"That's why we're bringing it up at the city council meeting, the next time we meet, so the citizens can come and talk about it," said Baker.

The public hearing is scheduled for May 13 at 7 p.m.

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