Portland Tax Repeal

Portland Tax Repeal / Portland Concerned Citizens

A Brief History of the Income Tax in Portland, Michigan:

Unbeknownst to many, the current city income tax is actually the second income tax instituted in the city of Portland. The first went into effect in January 1980 and was imposed by the City Council  "without  taking the issue to the voters."  When the voters protested, the council rescinded the tax in December of the same year. 
                    -(Jabobs, Eleanor. "Portland City Council Ponders Income Tax." Portland Review and Observer,  12th, Jan. 1983)

  • January 1983: Portland City Council announces they would like to try the income tax again.

    • City Manager Rex Wambaugh states, "In five-10 years, after city roads have been repaired, there could be a one-third to two-thirds cut in (property tax) millage."

    • Also, "With income tax, in five to 10 years the the streets could be done."
      -(Jabobs, Eleanor. "Portland City Council Ponders Income Tax." Portland Review and Observer,  12th, Jan. 1983)

  • June 1983: The city formally surveys 1,200 residents on how they'd prefer to pay for street repairs. Of the 101 respondents: 

    • 58% prefer assessments

    • 43% prefer an income tax
      -(Ruehl, Linda. "Council Seeks Solutions for Bumpy Roads." Portland Review and Observer,  29th, Jun. 1983)


  • August 1983: An informal of vote of 25 residents gathered at City Hall reveals that, no, actually the residents prefer an income tax.
            -(Ruehl, Linda. "Council Considers Reinstituting City Tax." Portland Review and Observer,  10th, Aug. 1983)


  • August 1983: According to city attorney Bill Davis the state legislature has to act "in order to establish a time limit for the tax and earmark it for city road repairs."
            -(Ruehl, Linda. "Council Still Investigating Possible Income Tax." Portland Review and Observer,  24th, Aug. 1983)


  • September 1983: "It is the Council's intent to establish a time limit for the 1 percent income tax and earmark it exclusively for road repairs."
            -(Ruehl, Linda. "Legal Opinion Delays Council Action on Tax." Portland Review and Observer,  7th, Sept. 1983)


  • September 1983: Council learns that state law supersedes their plan to place, "a six year time limit on the tax."
            -(Ruehl, Linda. "'Binding' Plan Hits Snag." Portland Review and Observer,  21st, Sept. 1983)


  • An undated city newsletter titled "SPECIAL ELECTION - NOVEMBER 14, 1983" reveals (in part):

    • "1. ALL REVENUE WOULD BE EARMARKED FOR STREET IMPROVEMENTS: No money would be transferred to any other fund ... Once the streets are repaired, the people would then decide by a vote - to either eliminate the income tax ... or roll back property taxes by about 8 mils. Either way, the people would decide."

    • "5. HOW LONG WILL THIS TAKE? ... It will take 10 years to fix all the roads in this community."  "The main point here is that no matter how long it takes, once the job is completed, the people will determine whether or not to terminate the tax at that time."


  • November 1983: The voters decide to institute an income tax.

  • 2009: We still have an income tax.