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The city income tax pro­posal didn’t pass. In fact, it got beat bad — 712 votes for and 1,720 against.

Unfor­tu­nately, the city still needs $39 million it doesn’t have to repair its roads.

The city income tax would have estab­lished a mech­anism through which the city could stockpile a road rebuilding fund. But with the proposal’s defeat, the city is back where it started — with crum­bling roads and no money to rebuild them. So what can the city do now?

There are several options to con­sider. None of them are perfect solu­tions, and in fact they are all messier than the income tax.

Here are three:

1. An increase — a sig­nif­icant increase — in property taxes could raise the revenue to cover road recon­struction. The income tax would have raised $1.1 million a year. To match that, the city would have to levy 7.3 millages on Hillsdale res­i­dents. With 13.25 mills, the city could pay for the road problem in 20 years.

The unfor­tunate side-effect of a property tax, however, is that it affects the unem­ployed. The income tax is much better in this regard. You must have an income to have your income taxed.

2. The city could cut its budget to produce revenue. The city budget is $7.7 million, which comes out to about $950 per city res­ident. Where should the cuts come from?

The Hillsdale City Police Department is the single-largest expen­diture for the city, con­suming $1.3 million. Do Hillsdale’s finest really need two full-time and two part-time crossing guards? How nec­essary is the $7,000 set aside for the “Police Department Public Rela­tions Fund?”

Wherever the cuts would come from, they would be painful. The city budget is tight and only losing revenue as the economy con­tinues to limp toward recovery. Property values — and therefore property taxes, the city’s largest source of income — con­tinue to decline.

Should the city cut $320,000 from Dial-A-Ride, the city’s stand-by taxi service, relied upon by the elderly and dis­abled? Maybe their neighbors should give them a ride.

3. The city could do nothing. The roads can only be repaired for so long. Even­tually the base below the road will crumble and the paved roads will become dirt roads.

The city cur­rently pays for road recon­struction by drawing what money it can from its general fund. It is esti­mated that 2088 is the ear­liest the city can raise the $39 million it needs to repair all its roads.

And that’s OK if you want to do it that way.

  • Stan Crawford

    They could also pri­vatize them. Why is that never an option?