Special meeting of City Council tonight

Jeff Russ

Amendments to tax credit reduction possible in light of economic hardships

Kent City Council will hold a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. to discuss possible amendments to the one-half percent reduction in the Kent city tax credit.

Council passed the reduction Sept. 17 by a 6-2 vote. But the current economic system led Ward 3 representative Wayne A. Wilson to contact other members of council and propose tonight’s meeting.

“Money is very tight for people, and it is getting tighter by the minute,” Wilson said. “I actually felt like we should have done it before, but I didn’t feel that council wanted to do that, and I’m still not 100 percent sure they want to do it now, but at least they agreed to have a meeting.”

The tax credit affects those who live in Kent and work outside the city. Starting Jan. 1, residents who live in Kent and work outside of the city must pay an additional one-half percent of their total income to the city. At the Sept. 17 meeting, Ward 6 representative Tracy Wallach proposed delaying the vote, but five members of council – including Wilson – denied Wallach’s request.

Wilson called Ward 1 representative Garrett Ferrara and Ward 2 representative Jack Amrhein to make the meeting official. Amrhein missed the Sept. 17 meeting, but said he probably would have voted with Wallach on delaying the meeting to talk with his constituents. His no vote would have made Wallach’s amendment pass.

Like Wilson, Amrhein said the economy is the main reason to hold this meeting.

“These are difficult times,” he said. “The worst thing to do is raise someone’s taxes. I think that will backfire on you and create a hardship on people, and I really think we need to look into this a little closer.

“There is no doubt we need money, but so do people to live, and I’m looking at people’s retirement funds drying up and people who have money invested in their child’s college tuition is drying up, and I am concerned about that.”

Wilson said he was going to wait until Oct. 15 to bring up the issues, but then he would only have one more council meeting to address his problems. One of his problems is the start time of the credit.

“I think we should make it coincide with when we are going to go to the voters and ask the voters to increase the actual regular income tax by a quarter of a percent,” Wilson said. “Right now, the credit is at a half percent. We actually went one-fourth percent more than what the Blue Ribbon Panel recommended, and I felt we should stick with what the panel recommended and drop it back down to one-fourth, not one-half.”

At the Sept. 17 meeting, many residents spoke out against the reduction. Amrhein said he received 20 calls at the time, and 18 were against the reduction. Wilson said he takes the audience into consideration, but he has to make sure the city stays financially solid.

“I’d love to say we never have to raise taxes, and everything will be fine,” Wilson said. “The problem is, over the past 24 years we haven’t raised taxes, and the cost of every thing keeps going up.”

The meeting takes place in the governance chambers on S. DePeyster Street and is open to the public.

Contact public affairs reporter Jeff Russ at [email protected].