EDITORIAL: Proposed Mount Pleasant income tax deserves serious look
Mount Pleasant City Commission’s pursuit of a city income tax or millage that would help close the city’s $200,000 deficit has so far been greeted with almost universal disapproval, if this week’s city commission meeting is any indication.
No one likes paying taxes, and even a modest tax increase can have a major impact on how households, especially low-income ones, spend money. But this tax deserves a look from voters and should be considered seriously.
The proposed tax would amount to a one-percent tax on anyone living in the city with taxable income and a half-percent tax on non-residents working in the city. We believe that this is fair to everyone living and working in Mount Pleasant, even students working on campus, and would go a great way toward preserving the programs the city needs to operate.
Take a look at any of the myriad cities and towns around the country struggling to make ends meet. They have been forced to take deep cuts to their infrastructure programs and fire and police departments. These cities, as most have since the recession began, have seen revenues plummet, making it impossible to pay for those programs.
Mount Pleasant cannot afford that right now. We are beginning to make significant economic gains nationwide, and the city can be a part of that recovery if it is not forced to make drastic cuts.
That being said, if voters are asked to pay a little bit more in taxes, the city commission should take a close look at its spending to cut out any unnecessary spending and waste.
This should be a two-way street, and if the city wants to access this tax—and it even pass—it should make an effort to make cuts elsewhere. Raising taxes should be a last-ditch effort, and it appears this has given the city’s history of few tax increases and millage failing on the ballot.
At the same time, we applaud the city of Mount Pleasant for going about this the right way: having an open discussion months before a vote takes place. The government is there to serve the people, and if residents decide they would rather forgo a tax, then they must also understand the repercussions of possible cuts and layoffs.
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