Payroll tax could replace city stickers

Story by Ashley Traylor, Staff writer

A proposed payroll tax by the Murray City Council to replace city stickers raises concerns about how it will be a disadvantage to Murray State.

Mayor Jack Rose said the payroll tax was discussed at the city council retreat, but the tax is not concrete yet.

Wesley Bolin, city council member, said in an email he doesn’t know any details about the tax, when it will be proposed, or what the proposal will include.

The proposed tax is to be around 1.25 percent, President Bob Davies said.

Davies said during the Faculty Senate meeting last week that there have been rumors of the city implementing a payroll tax, but a city council member confirmed the mayor will be putting forward a payroll tax in a short period of time.

“I think it is a huge mistake,” Davies said. “I think there is a lot of issues with that.”

Thomas Pharis, Governmental Affairs Committee chairman and assistant professor of education, said he does not see where a payroll tax is going to benefit the university as a whole.         

“We just don’t know the impact that that additional tax will have over recruitment of new faculty and new staff, retention of faculty and staff,” Pharis said. “…Particularly, if we were recruiting against some other institutions, who don’t have the payroll tax.”

Pharis said the mayor is adamant about no overall revenue increase if a payroll tax is set in motion. He said he supposes the idea is to replace city stickers with payroll tax, but possibly lower property taxes as well.

“I think the idea there is, it would shift the tax burden from those people who are retired, who are not earning money right now, who are on a fixed income,” Pharis said. “It lowers their overall city tax, while people who are still working in the city of Murray will pay more to make up the difference.”

The University Administration is working on a document to disadvantages of a payroll tax to the university to present to the city and public.

Davies encouraged the Faculty Senate to reach out to city council members to make their voices known because he said the mayor wants to institute the tax before elections.

Seid Hassan, professor of economics, wrote in an email to the economics finance department that the public needs to reach out to city council because it is not easy to reverse a decision once it has been made.

“It seems to me that barring that we do not live a continent/country where I am from, the only way that this could be stopped is sufficient noise and objection from members of the faculty, staff and citizens of the city/county of Murray/Calloway County,” Hassan wrote.