Those who live and work in Benton Harbor could pay more in taxes next year if a city income tax is implemented.
It's just an idea at this point, but city commissioners voted unanimously Monday night to form a review committee to look into the proposal.
Several other Michigan cities already have the tax in place.
"A city tax is a payroll tax basically that helps local communities cover streets, infrastructure and bring revenue into the community," said Benton Harbor Commissioner Trenton Bowens, who proposed the idea.
If implemented, Benton Harbor residents would pay a certain percentage of their income and those who only work in the city would be levied a different percentage. In more than a dozen other cities that already have the tax, residents pay 1 percent and non-residents pay 0.5 percent. Some larger cities, like Detroit and Grand Rapids, levy taxes at a higher rate.
"It's been done in other communities," said Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower. "It benefits them. So, we need to look into that as an option."
The committee will study the pros and cons of a city income tax. They'll also hold public meetings to get input from residents.
But, voters will have the final say on the matter. In order to level a city income tax, it must be placed on the ballot.
Bowens says he's hopeful the measure could be up for a vote in November.
Some residents feel they're already giving the city plenty, after approving two millage proposals on May 7 that will generate more than $1 million for the city in the first year.
But, Bowens says the city won't gain back local control if it can't generate revenue.
"If we don't care for Benton Harbor, who else will care for Benton Harbor?" he said. "If we want this to be the best community, the shining community on the hill, if we want other communities to be jealous and envious of us, to make Benton Harbor number one, it's going to be shared sacrifice."