Part 3: Income tax possible in Marquette, city manager says

Even after last year’s property tax rate increase, the City of Marquette still faces a $2 million dollar debt.
Published: Apr. 20, 2023 at 7:28 PM EDT
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Even after last year’s property tax rate increase, the City of Marquette still faces a $2 million dollar debt.

City Manager Karen Kovacs and city staff have worked to reduce spending and generate more revenue. One potential source of revenue could be an income tax.

“When we start exploring an income tax, there has to be a balance and I want to let you know that if we do go down the road of an income tax ever, we have to make sure that we can lower our cap for our property taxes because there has to be an equal ratio, at least, for property taxpayers versus income taxpayers,” said Kovacs.

In addition to the new revenue being generated by last year’s millage increase, Kovacs says there’s more potential for income for the city in the next few years.

“We’ve identified a time period in the next five years where things really start working in our favor, a significant amount of debt would be retired, and some of those brownfield projects that do capture the tax dollars would be coming back to full realization,” Kovacs said.

Beyond getting the city out of a deficit, one driving force in finding new ways to generate revenue is the cost of providing reliable emergency services.

Marquette Police Chief Ryan Grim says like other departments, his department’s budget is a challenge.

“The majority of my budget is personnel, and I’m just like everybody else right now. It’s difficult to find qualified personnel, not only police jobs but jobs across the nation,” said Grim.

“We’ve got 34 sworn police officers here and five support staff so we have 39 total employees. We’ve been lucky and we’ve been finding the right people. We’ve got a great staff here at Marquette PD,” added Grim.

The police department must find ways to save without impacting its ability to respond to calls. One way it’s been able to do this actually originated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve done a lot of virtual training now. The officers are all enrolled in what we call Police One Academy. We do a lot of things that way. That was one of the good things that came out of COVID. We’ve all learned how to communicate through the internet and it helps with the budget so we don’t have to send officers away to training,” said Grim.

Kovacs says she’s proud of the efforts to reduce the deficit from $6 million to $2 million dollars. However, there’s still more work to do.

“The next year, two years, is going to be very hard because we have done the low-lying fruit. We’ve taken care of that, we now have to come to decisions really pushing our people, but really pushing to find the most efficient use for our funds and that might come with a little bit of change,” said Kovacs.

Kovacs says the best way for you to voice your opinion or ideas on what steps the city takes in the future is to attend city commission meetings.

You can also visit Kovacs during her open office hours, participate in community surveys, and vote in local elections.

Check out Part 1 & 2 of TV6 Investigates: Marquette Finances