In order to alleviate next year’s
looming $4.79 million fiscal budget deficit, Ann Arbor officials
have pondered putting an income tax proposal before voters. In
response, Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje has said he will ensure that
any possible tax increase results in commuters, not residents,
paying higher taxes. This is not only a bad idea, it is inarguably
unfair and illogical. The commuters who work in Ann Arbor are a
driving force behind the city and punishing them for their service
to the city is wrong.

Kate Green

The next fiscal year begins on July 1, and the city is desperate
to reduce the large deficit that it is currently facing. City
officials are looking for all kinds of ways to raise money, as
health care and insurance costs continue to rise while the state
cuts the money it gives to cities. An income tax proposal has been
the main idea bounced around by city officials, and it has gained
some popularity as an easy way to solve the city’s financial
woes. Predictably, residents have voiced some displeasure about the
idea, and Hieftje has responded by saying he will protect Ann
Arbor’s residents.

A tax on commuters’ salaries has been proposed several
times in the past, failing to pass in each of these instances. In
1969, voters rejected a commuter tax by 61 percent. Similarly, in
1972, the proposal was rejected by 59 percent of voters. Putting an
income tax on Ann Arbor commuters is a way to gain revenue from
people who come to work in the city, use city services while they
are here and then return home. The tax would supposedly justify the
use of these services and help to keep them running. However, the
primary users of the city’s services are residents, not

Exploiting Ann Arbor commuters to pay for city services and
reduce the city’s deficit is highly unreasonable. If taxed,
commuters would receive no return for the capital they are
providing. Instead, they would be financing projects meant to
improve the quality of life for residents of the city. In most
cases, the people who come to Ann Arbor to work but not to live do
so not because of personal choice, but because they cannot afford
to live here. Ann Arbor is, as most students and other residents
know, an expensive place to live.

It is easy to say that commuters to Ann Arbor should finance
operations for the city providing them with jobs, but residents
need to recognize the importance of these people to their quality
of life. In many cases, these are the people who make and serve
food, clean up streets, build houses and plow snow-filled

The possible income tax would have to be approved by voters and
may show up on the August or November ballot. Voters must ensure
that this proposal is defeated.

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