Marietta against sharing income tax

Marietta City Council members agreed Tuesday to enact a resolution opposing state legislation that the Ohio Municipal League says would “result in significant reductions in revenues and loss of critical local control for Ohio cities and villages.”

The original purpose of Ohio House Bill 5, introduced last month by Ohio House Majority Whip Cheryl Grossman, R-Grove City, was to provide statewide uniformity for municipal income tax procedures.

But Marietta officials agree with the municipal league that HB 5 paves the way for the state to begin collecting city income taxes.

Marietta Councilman Tom Vukovic, D-4th Ward, and chairman of council’s finance committee, noted HB 5 is very similar to another bill-HB 601 that did not make it into a house committee by the end of 2012.

“Basically HB 601 has come back as HB 5,” Vukovic said. “But a lower number on the new bill indicates a higher priority for the legislature.”

Bonnie Duff, the city’s deputy tax administrator, said she agreed with the idea of uniformity in the way Ohio municipalities handle their taxes.

“This bill does that, but we understand that after the process runs smoothly for two or three years, the state will take over,” she said.

Duff and city treasurer Valerie Holley asked city council to pass a resolution opposing HB 5 that would be submitted to the legislature along with similar resolutions from other communities.

“For me, the issue is home rule,” Vukovic said. “Basically the state is taking that away from us and other communities by collecting our income tax.”

He added that representatives from the Ohio Municipal League met with state legislators considering HB 5, but were unable to reach a suitable compromise on the tax uniformity issue.

An analysis of the bill’s provisions by the Ohio Municipal League maintains that HB 5 would require the state’s municipalities to adopt by reference all provisions of Ohio Revised Code Chapter 718, which would effectively render all local tax ordinances obsolete.

“This is a clear road map to future centralized collection of municipal income tax revenues by the state,” league officials stated in a news release.

Vukovic said HB 5 would also create a Municipal Tax Policy Board responsible for creating all forms, policies, enforcement actions, and publications for the proposed state system to collect municipal taxes.

Holley said the bill would cost the city at least an estimated $245,000 in tax annually.

Vukovic said the requested resolution opposing HB 5 would be introduced during the Feb. 21 regular city council session at 7:30 p.m. in the community building at Lookout Park.

In other business Tuesday, Councilman Roger Kalter, D-1st Ward, who chairs the planning, zoning, annexation and housing committee, asked Mayor Joe Matthews and city safety-service director Jonathan Hupp to develop a detailed plan to finance a code enforcement officer for the city.

The officer would be responsible for enforcing the city’s property maintenance code, and is a key component as Kalter continues to press for an upgrade to bring the city in line with the 2012 International Property Maintenance Code.

Marietta’s code has been following an earlier version of the IPMC that was adopted in the late 1990s.

Also, during a special council meeting Tuesday, members approved more than $925,000 in annual allocations from various city funds to reimburse indirect costs that come out of the general fund throughout the year.