New tax dings those working outside of city

Joe Shearer

New taxes were on the minds of citizens as Kent City Council voted 6-2 last night in favor of a 0.5 percent income tax increase for residents working outside the city.

Those affected – roughly 60 percent of residents – by the tax would pay an extra $5 per $1,000 income. So for example, someone making $40,000 would have to pay an extra $200 in income taxes.

Currently, those working outside the city pay that city’s income tax and are given a 2 percent credit by the city of Kent. This measure lowers that credit to 1.5 percent.

About a dozen people stepped up to the microphone to voice their disdain for the ordinance, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2009, and has a duration of five years. Some described the tax as “biased,” “cowardly” and “a money grab,” while one resident went so far as to compare it to what she said she thought was a similar move by the British Parliament in 1767 resulting in the Boston Tea Party.

One woman said local news always reports new ways to save money in a weak economy, but that the ordinance would only make it more difficult for families trying to make ends meet.

Ward 6 Councilwoman Tracy Wallach said people from the city usually don’t show up to the meetings.

“It was expected,” Wallach said of the dissenters. “Raising taxes is never popular.” She asked why she and others who work in the city should have to pay for city services, while residents working outside of Kent fund other cities.

After the ordinance passed, most of the residents who spoke left the council chamber.

Council also voted to place an income tax increase of .25 percent for all Kent residents on the November 2009 ballot. If passed, this would only affect those working within city limits.

Councilman John Kuhar, who opposes both of the taxes, said the issue was “doomed to fail” at the ballot box, and would cost $10,000 to $15,000.

Contact public affairs reporter Joe Shearer at [email protected].