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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    City proposes rental tax

    Tucson City Council members listen to public opinions on the issue of implementing the proposed renters fee during the weekly city council meeting held at the Tucson Convention Center on Tuesday night.
    Tucson City Council members listen to public opinions on the issue of implementing the proposed renters fee during the weekly city council meeting held at the Tucson Convention Center on Tuesday night.

    If students at the UA feel that the financial troubles of the City of Tucson do not affect them, they may soon discover they are sadly mistaken.

    The proposed Fiscal Year 2010 City of Tucson budget includes a 2 percent sales tax on all residential rental properties in the city – a proposal sure to dent the wallets of students living off-campus.

    Yesterday, beginning at 5:30 p.m. and lasting until almost 11 p.m., the Tucson City Council hosted an open forum at the Tucson Convention Center to discuss the proposed tax increases and rental fee with the public.

    With cries of “”tax on rent makes no sense,”” concerned citizens packed the room to share their ideas and opinions on the proposed 2010 budget.

    In order to address the city’s budget deficit, City Manager Mike Letcher proposed a series of tax hikes and fees on April 14 amounting to a total of about 12.8 million dollars for the city. These tax hikes are in addition to the 5 million former City Manager Mike Hein proposed in February.

    In simpler terms, the 2 percent sales tax increase would equate to an additional $20 a month for a property that costs $1,000 a month to rent or an additional $240 a year.

    The rental tax increase is one of five major tax and fee increases that were put forward by the city’s revenue enhancement team in February of 2009.

    The other increases include a utility tax on water, power and cable, a proposed 25 percent increase in bus fares and raising residential trash and recycling fees by four percent.

    The proposed tax increases have met a substantial amount of resistance in both the city government and the community.

    “”Before looking at new streams of revenue I believe that we must first look at cutting our own expenses,”” Rodney Glassman, former UA student and current Ward 2 Council Member said. “”While most of the cities across our state have rental taxes, you can rest assured that I believe our first priority should be tightening the city’s belt and prioritizing, just like the working families of our community.””

    According to Courtney LeVinus, a representative of the Arizona Multi-Housing Associations, the rental tax will primarily affect lower and middle-income families, students and professionals.

    “”The problem we see with the proposed plan is that the mayor and council grabbed on to this issue very early on and didn’t consider alternative options,”” LeVinus said. “”The tax will hurt the Tucson economy. If people are paying between 14 and 20 extra dollars a month for rent, they will not spend the money shopping or going out to dinner.””

    “”What you are suggesting with this tax hike is discrimination, class discrimination,”” Bernard Ford, a retired Vietnam Veteran and apartment renter at Cachia Springs said. “”Why should the poorer members of the community pay a tax that those that own their own homes don’t?””

    Among the multitudes of real estate developers, city employees and senior citizens in attendance, several UA students waited to voice their concerns about the proposed rental fee and tax increases.

    “”The city council is irresponsibly spending its money instead of cutting the fat,””

    marketing senior Robert Mayer said. “”I keep my bills and spending at a bare minimum. An extra 14 dollars a month goes a long way,””

    “”I think its events like this that matter,”” Russian senior Kai Kaapro said. “”The councilmen look into the people’s eyes and know they need to do something different.””

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