Commissioners discuss Benton Harbor Income Tax proposal - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Commissioners discuss Benton Harbor Income Tax proposal

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You pay federal and state income tax, but how would you feel about adding a city income tax?

Just a few months ago, residents of Benton Harbor passed a millage renewal to help reduce the city's deficit.

Now, some Commissioners have another plan to balance the budget.

Commissioners Trenton Bowen and Marcus Muhammad are taking the lead on a new proposal for a city income tax. 

"We must do something about it. It's crucial. It's just simple. We have to do something about it," says Bowen.

They say enough hasn't been done by emergency managers and it's time to put matters into the citizens' hands.

"I don't think they would mind paying a tax if they knew the tax dollars was going towards a good purpose or good cause," says Muhammad.

The tax would be 1% on residents.

The average income in Benton Harbor is $17,000 a year. On that salary, you'd pay $170 dollars more to the city a year if the tax passed.

People who work in the city, but don't live there would pay .5%.

"Have the non-resident who's working and making in money in Benton Harbor, share the sacrifice," says Muhammad.
    
At a town hall meeting Monday, residents listened to presentations explaining the tax. Commissioners say if the income tax passes, the city may be able to lower the millage to give homeowners a break on property taxes.

Some are behind it, "Whatever is going to benefit the city of Benton Harbor, improve the city of Benton Harbor, I think that we should go for it," said a resident.

Others disagree, saying they're already paying enough in taxes, "I pay my taxes in Benton Township. I live in Benton Township, therefore I pay my school taxes to Benton Harbor School and we don't have children," says Mary Balfort, who lives in Benton Township, but works in Benton Harbor.

She says because she doesn't live in the city, she wouldn't be able to vote on the proposal.

Instead, she says she'd vote with her feet.

"I will do my best not to work in Benton Harbor is this is the case," says Balfort.

A few Michigan cities have a city tax, including Grand Rapids.


The Commissioners want this on the ballot in November.

In order to do that to happen, they need to approve an ordinance change with a two-thirds vote.

Then, five of the nine Commissioners would have to sign off on a resolution to go on the ballot by August 27th.

The Commissioners will be having another Town Hall meeting on July 27th at noon at Benton Harbor City Hall. 

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