Trouble is brewing for City Manager Mike Letcher's proposed tax on residential rent payments.
The Arizona Multihousing Association is promising to bring a crowd to the City Council meeting next Tuesday, Jan. 5. The meeting, BTW, has been moved from the council chambers at City Hall to the Tucson Convention Center to accommodate the hundreds of people who are expected to turn out. The study session begins at 2:30 p.m. and the evening meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m.
Here's the AMA press release:
Renters in the City of Tucson are outraged over a new tax being proposed by City staff as part of a mid-year budget fix. Tucson City Manager Mike Letcher is pushing for the tax and yesterday held a press conference to force the City Council to choose between a tax on renters and police & fire layoffs—a move that Tucson’s renters are calling a “false choice.”
“This is an example of political posturing to force the City Council into adopting new taxes on Tucson’s renters—people who can least afford it right now,” said Barb Dolan, Government Affairs Liaison for the Arizona Multihousing Association. “It does not need to be pitted as public safety vs. renters.”
“I support our police officers and firefighters,” said Isabel Pena, a Tucson renter. “I am mad that the City manager would make the Council choose between a new tax on me and other renters and police & fire layoffs. Why are Tucson’s renters being singled out to fix the entire budget problem?”
Renters are also criticizing City staff for lack of transparency in the budget process, as the rental tax proposal was unveiled on December 15 and scheduled for a vote on January 5, which is the same day as the public hearing on the subject. Details about the hearing’s location and time, as well as the renter’s tax, were not available until Monday, December 28. Despite the lack of public notice, renters are vowing to show up at the hearing, scheduled for January 5, 2010.
Earlier this year, the City turned down a proposed 2 percent rental tax after more than 700 residents rallied against it. Among the reasons given by the Council for rejecting the tax were the regressive nature of the tax and the impact it would have on those with lower income levels and on housing affordability in Tucson. Additionally, opponents argue that the tax is double taxation, as property taxes are charged to all rental property, which is then passed on to renters.