Two citizens spoke out about the city’s proposed income tax increase at Thursday’s meeting. One woman said she worried the income tax increase, meant to go to police and fire, was simply a way to increase taxes while diverting funds.
Another Riverside resident, Freda Patterson, said she felt increasing taxes did not mean the city council could stop being careful with the general fund.
“I myself see a fire and police levy passing way faster than a 1% tax increase on income tax,” she said. “If a fire and police levy was to be put on the ballot and passed, I mean - the general fund still needs to be budgeted wisely.”
Patterson said she also wanted to see transparency from the city and ensure residents are getting the 100% tax credit under the new tax law.
Interim city manager Chris Lohr said the revenue from reduced income tax credit that citizens currently pay has mostly gone to capital improvements, such as purchasing two new fire engines for the fire department.
“I know it’s has been controversial in the community but it’s definitely something that has been necessary for us to be able to continue day to day operations,” Lohr said of the reduction in income tax.
Lohr said he hoped the community would support the new tax as it would help transition the fire department from a mixed part-time, full-time department to a full-time department, something that current fire chief Dan Stitzel has said is necessary to keep firefighters from being overworked and would help with recruiting.
Stitzel said June was the busiest month in the history of the department.