Kzoo considers supporting state roads proposal

Kalamazoo city commissioners listen to a presentation on Proposal 1. (March 9, 2015)

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — A group backing a statewide ballot proposal aimed at funding roads took their message to a special meeting of the Kalamazoo City Commissioners Monday, trying to convince them to back the plan.

Proposal 1, which will go before Michigan voters in May, would raise the state’s sales tax by 1 percent and eliminate the sales tax on fuel. It would also trigger other laws that would devote some $1.2 billion annually to roads.

Monday, Kalamazoo’s vice mayor publicly supported Proposal 1, but fellow commissioners have yet to take a stance.

“This is actually a reasonable proposal. I don’t think we are going to get anything better,” Vice Mayor David Anderson said.

If the proposal passes, the City of Kalamazoo would see an additional $3.5 million each year for its roads — about a 60 percent increase.

>>PDF: MDOT estimate of funding distribution

The bad news, some say, is that the measure would raise the sales tax.

“The bill is not perfect, but I don’t think anything in life is perfect,” a citizen in support of Proposal 1 said.

The proposal would also give tax breaks to lower-income families.

Some citizens in support of the bill feel there is no other option. Between 2013 and 2014, four significant road funding proposals were turned down.

“There is an alternative; the alternative is to increase business taxes,” a citizen opposed to the proposal said.

The group supporting the proposal at the meeting, the Michigan Municipal League, says the majority Republican legislature in Lansing would never vote that through.

Others opposed say there are too many “extras” on the bill.

“The extras are really offsetting costs where money goes now out of our gas tax, which shouldn’t be going to other things, so it’s really addressing other problems that are there,” Anderson said.

The Kalamazoo commissioners will vote next Monday on a resolution to support Proposal 1.

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