Riverside City Council is expected to vote tonight to set the ballot language for a ½ percent income tax increase measure that will be on the November ballot.
The city is asking voters to pass an income tax rate increase from 1.5 percent to 2 percent — which, if approved, would generate about $1.42 million annually in new revenue.
The resolution that council will vote on tonight states the income tax increase would be “for purposes of general municipal operations, maintenance, new equipment, extension and enlargement of municipal services and facilities and capital improvements.”
“If we’re going to ask folks for money, they need to know how we plan to spend it,” Councilman Mike Denning said. “It shouldn’t be, ‘Just trust me.’ It all falls into the capital improvements category.”
If the measure passes tonight, it will then be filed with the board of elections for review, City Manager Bryan Chodkowski said.
In April, council passed two readings of an ordinance that provisionally amends the tax code to 2 percent. That ordinance became effective May 18.
“There’s a lot of different ways to go about addressing these types of needs and trying to divide the pie,” Chodkowski said. “There’s no right or wrong way to divide the pie. For this election, this is what this council thinks is in the long-term, best interests of the city.”
Council also approved in April a resolution designating $6.5 million for capital infrastructure improvements and equipment — if the income tax rate increase passes. The resolution says that from Jan. 1, 2014, through Dec. 31, 2019, the city will appropriate no less than $6.5 million to improve streets and purchase city vehicles, among the items listed.
Chodkowski previously said the “bulk” of the money would go toward fixing residential streets. There are 144 lane miles of residential streets in the city, and the approximate cost to make improvements to them is $11.23 million, according to a city report from October 2011.
Riverside projects to receive approximately $5 million in income tax receipts this year.
The city is spending about $5 million total this year on three road projects — the Harshman/Valley intersection; Harshman Road; and Burkhardt Road.
In December, council approved reducing the income tax credit from 1.5 percent to 0.75 percent, which is expected to annually generate about $700,000 — money that council agreed to earmark for capital expenses.
“I’m OK with the way (the ballot language) reads, but I’m thinking we really need to take the credit off if we want voters to vote for it,” Mayor Bill Flaute said. “I hesitate to even put it on the ballot because we did the tax credit legislatively.”
Residents also should expect a 4.95-mill police levy on the ballot in 2014, city officials have said. The current five-year levy — which will generate $1.1 million this year — expires Dec. 31, 2014.
What: Riverside City Council meeting
When: 7 p.m. today
Where: Municipal Building, 1791 Harshman Road
Note: Work session begins at 6 p.m.