Editorial: Vote 'Yes' on E.L. income tax
There’s no way around it — East Lansing is in financial stress and needs money. Generating revenue is its best solution.
A city income tax is on the Nov. 7 ballot. Following months of financial health analyses, it became clear that the city needed more revenue to provide basic necessities to operate the city and meet their obligations to pay pensions of retired city employees.
The tax is not a large burden to the average student. At 1 percent annually for residents and 0.5 percent for non-residents, it would be a very small portion taken out of a biweekly paycheck. If a resident makes $5,001 annually, less than $2 would be deducted from a paycheck every two weeks.
It even has an exemption of incomes less than $5,000 annually. The average student earns $4,000 in a year, meaning most students will be exempt from this tax. There are additional deductions for persons with disabilities and seniors over the age of 65. The city is doing its best to affect the least amount of people.
But above all, it’s a small price to pay to have a safe, clean and functioning local government.
The tax is expected to raise about $5 million annually.
Of that, $3 million will go to pensions, $1 million to infrastructure and $1 million to city operations.
Without the tax, budget cuts will have to be made in various departments of the government.
In a previous State News article, councilmember Erik Altmann said cutting the entire Parks, Recreation & Arts department would only save $2 million, which is not enough to make the pension payments — the bare minimum needed to address the city’s financial issues.
“There is no way to find $3 million in cuts without going after public safety because it’s two thirds of our budget,” Altmann said previously.
Public safety. Yes, that’s right, potentially fewer ambulances to respond to alcohol poisoning, allergic reactions and any other emergencies a college town could face.
While taxes are never pleasant, the alternative of cutting important services is much worse. Keeping that in mind, The State News supports the income tax proposal.