1% income tax increase to fix roads on the ballot for Lowell voters

LOWELL, Mich. — On Tuesday, voters in Lowell will decide whether or not to raise their own taxes in order to fix roads that according to City Manager Mike Burns, "are in bad shape."

The ballot proposal would allow the city to collect 1% of adjusted gross income tax from residents and businesses and .5% from non-residents. The tax would be implemented for 15 years.

Burns said 91 % of Lowell's roads are considered "fair or poor" under the Pavement Surface Evaluation and Rating scale.

“We realize to get our streets in 10 years back to 85% good, we need to put $1 million a year in streets," Burns said. “The budget we have right now, we can’t continue to provide services at the level we have and fix streets to the extent they need to be fixed.”

Voters will also be able to opt to lower the city's property tax. In theory, a voter will either vote "yes" on both if they support the change, or "no" on both if they do not.

If the tax increase passes, it would raise about $1.2 million in the first year. Burns said the revenue is projected to increase about 4% annually.

“It is a tax increase, but it is a lot less than what it would be if it was, if we went for a street millage," Burns said.

Burns said for the past three years, the city has been working on storm water management, which has kept crews from making road repairs.

City officials considered other options for paying for the road repairs, including eliminating the Lowell Police Department and relying on Michigan State Police and rural sheriff patrol.

“People think that we can cut and we really can’t," Burns said. "I mean if we cut, services are gonna get diminished and that’s not what we want to do."

The city also considered closing the Kent District Library and selling Lowell Light and Power.

Burns said these alternative ideas would be "short-term fixes that could have long-term consequences."

Voters can view their sample ballots on the Michigan Secretary of State's website.

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7 comments

  • steve

    Too bad that Grand Rapids wouldn’t try the same deal. There are so many “damn roads” that need professional repair in the city it’s disgusting. Note the word ‘professional’ repair, not a band-aid, temporary fix.

    • Herm

      The City of Grand Rapids has had an income tax (since the 60s, I believe). 1.5% for GR residents and .75% for non residents who earn income in GR

      • Herm

        ALTHOUGH… the Lowell tax is specific to roads (although we all know it wouldn’t be) where GR the tax is for streets and many other things

    • C

      I could be wrong, but unless I’m mistaken, the bill that Governor Witless wanted applied to repair of state roads only. Local roads weren’t included.

  • Germaine

    Badly needed. I no longer live in Lowell, but I still work there. Jefferson is the only one of the “presidents” streets that has been done fully. Now it is the truck route to Attwood. I have been in 3rd world countries whose roads are pristine compared to most of the roads in Lowell, especially Washington. Talking to you, Greg Canfield……..don’t know how you can deal with it every day.

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