Oct. 14—Kirtland voters in the Nov. 8 general election will decide whether or not to approve a charter amendment allowing City Council to increase income taxes to fund the city’s road program.
Currently, Article VI, Section 1 of the charter sets an income tax rate of 2 percent. The proposed charter amendment would keep that as a minimum, while allowing City Council to set the income tax rate at a maximum of 2.25 percent.
Council passed a resolution on July 11 stating that it would instruct the city’s finance director to set aside all funds received from the increase as a separate line item. As part of that resolution, council members also issued a non-binding pledge to use those funds exclusively for its road program, not including capital equipment expenses.
“Kirtland for…it’s got to be more than 10 years now, has struggled to fund our necessary road repairs and maintenance,” said Mayor Kevin Potter. “The city up until recently was, because of the lack of funds, really didn’t have a strategy and a plan to not only pave our deteriorating roads, and roads in poor condition, but also to maintain good roads.”
He noted that the city has paved almost five miles of road and developed a plan for maintaining its roads in the last couple of years, though it needs funding for that plan.
The city previously used a property tax levy to pay for the road program. Potter said that the city chose an income tax this time around because it would raise money from city residents as well as individuals from other communities that work in Kirtland. Additionally, he said that an income tax would not affect retirement income.
If the levy passes, Potter expects that council will increase income taxes to 2.25 percent in order to fund the city’s road program. A family making the city’s median household income of about $91,000 would pay just under $240 a year in additional taxes.
He added that council can bring the amount down in the future if it determines that the extra revenue is no longer needed.
If the levy fails, Potter said that the city will work to patch and maintain roads as it is able, but that it “wouldn’t leave much for new road paving and long-term solutions.”
According to Potter, the city has worked in the past couple of years to reduce spending, citing the 2020 agreement under which Willoughby handles Kirtland’s dispatch needs. He said that the cost savings have allowed the city to pave roads and hire more full-time police officers.
According to data from the Lake County Board of Elections, there were 5,370 registered voters in Kirtland as of Oct. 13.