On Wednesday night, the City Council took no action on the local income tax (LIT) increase until their regularly scheduled meeting was set for May 4th. This is the .0855 point increase proposed by Mayor John Hamilton. Council Member Sue Sgambelluri was absent, preventing her from voting. These “special circumstances” require the members to be in-person to participate.
The Chamber made a public comment that reiterated our belief that the current proposal was too massive with little in the way of inclusivity with the rest of the county. We also restated our belief in the needed investments in public safety and transit. You can watch our full comments HERE. Also, Chamber President Eric Spoonmore recently had a guest column for the Herald Times. We recommend reaching out to your council representative to share your views with them.
At the current stage, there appears to be no consensus among the Council members on the scope of such a tax increase. Councilmember Steven Volans made an impassioned plea for the full amount of the proposal. This was a similar position to council members, Matt Flaherty, Isabel Piedmont-Smith, and Kate Rosenbarger. Jim Sims was a bit more cautious reminding his colleagues of the need for compromise. Skepticism of the amount and the timing was made by Ron Smith and Dave Rollo. Councilmember Smith was especially apprehensive about the proposal based on his discussion with his constituents and county elected officials. He did not feel this to be an inclusive process. Dave Rollo believed there had not been enough attention paid to the budget as far as finding other sources of funds for these projects.
The eight council members who were present asked questions of the administration. Council Members Rollo and Volan brought the fund balance CRED (Community Redevelopment Economic Districts to Controller Jeff Underwood. The Thomson District has expired while the downtown region expires in June. Also brought up was the surplus as it relates to the Public Safety LIT that was passed in 2016 to fund the call center.