In addition to choosing three city council members, Wayne voters will be asked to approve a new 8-mill tax hike on the Nov. 8 ballot.
The new tax levy will be used to help fund the pension obligations of the city toward retired public safety employees, according to city officials. The new tax, which is $1 for every $1,000 of assessed valuation, usually half the market value of a home, would cost the owner of a $100,000 home in the city about $400 annually.
City officials have stated that the pension obligations are too steep for the current tax revenue collected. They claim that nearly 40 percent of the city budget is paid into the pension fund. Officials claim that the city will owe another $16 million into the pension fund within the next two years and does not have a revenue base to make those payments. Currently, they claim that while the city has 202 retirees collecting pension payment, only 76 current employees are paying into the fund. In a “friendly” lawsuit which the city did not defend in 2020, the city was ordered by the court to levy 13 mills to pay the pension costs.
The city is currently levying the maximum tax amount allowed by state law and must have voter approval to increase taxes any further. Voters have rejected requests for increased millages from the city twice in past elections.