NAACP urges voters to overturn tax cap - WNEM TV 5

NAACP urges voters to overturn tax cap

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)
SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

A local branch of the NAACP is calling for changes in one Mid-Michigan city.

They want residents to approve altering city taxes, not to lower them but to allow the city to raise them.

Nearly four decades ago, a tax cap was put in place in Saginaw limiting how much the city can take from residents in taxes.

"The time is always right to do what is right," said Terry Pruitt, vice president of the Saginaw NAACP.

Pruitt said there's a lot at stake for the city of Saginaw and the time for change is now.

"To join forces with other interested and invested parties in the city of Saginaw to challenge residents to approve a ballot proposal leading to the elimination of the city's tax cap," Pruitt said.

Saginaw voters approved two tax caps in 1979.

One of those caps mandated the city could bring in no more than $3.8 million per year in total tax revenue.

Pruitt said that  cap is putting the people of Saginaw at risk.

"In the past several months the city has wrestled with how to maintain adequate staffing in the fire department after losing a federal grant that supported fire operations. At the end of the day, city leaders have been forced to lay off 25 percent of the firefighters and close a major east side fire station. Citizens of Saginaw, it's time for the cap to go," Pruitt said.

Leola Wilson, president of the Saginaw NAACP, said people may not realize how much the cap is hurting the city.

"It affects the money that we have available to hire our public safety people, to hire people that we need to work in our community. And that's why it's so very important because it's so limiting," Wilson said.

The NAACP said it's too early in the process to know if this will be on the ballot in 2018, but they hope there will be a vote by no later than 2020.

Each presenter at the State of the Community address agreed the biggest issue is voter turn out and voter education. Without residents showing up to the polls, changes cannot be made.

"All the people that serve in our courthouse, in our city halls throughout the state, those are people who are elected by local people," Wilson said.

The NAACP plans to host a community forum within the next 60 days regarding the current tax caps.

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