City treasurer wants to set record straight

During the campaign process, many claims are made by candidates that are not substantiated. As outgoing Marietta City treasurer and as a 20-year steward of public trust, I feel it is my duty to set the record straight for such claims.

Willa O’Neill, who is running for treasurer, has made claims that she will implement new ideas from what the Income Tax Office is currently doing.

These claims are:

“I have spent time with Val and her staff to learn what goes on in her office” is a statement Willa O’Neill made in a Times article and a letter to the editor on her behalf. She did meet with me, but she did not meet with my staff (in the Income Tax Office). The only candidate for city treasurer who has met with the Income Tax Office is Cathy Harper.

Another statement made by Willa O’Neill is, “I have traveled to other places to look for best practices we could use here.” She does not know what best practices the Income Tax Office is currently using to compare to other cities.

Electronic payments is something that O’Neill will consider if she is elected treasurer. However, if she had spoken to us she would know this is already being utilized for businesses.

The statement that she “would take advantage of the current computer technologies to bring the office more up-to-date” is an assumption that we are out of date. How can one assume the Income Tax Office is not up-to-date since she has not spoken to or observed the Income Tax Office.

O’Neill also refers to a “program” that Cleveland uses to match IRS forms with local city income tax forms to “ensure those who are supposed to be paying are paying.” Cleveland uses a collection agency called Central Collection Agency (CCA) to collect their city income taxes. Federal law prohibits cities from having access to IRS information so all questions and filing of taxes in Cleveland must be directed to CCA. Some time ago I investigated another collection agency program and I concluded that it would cost the city of Marietta revenue as all collection agencies takes a percentage of the taxes they collect for their services. Currently, the Income Tax Office uses the State of Ohio Income Tax list and all lists available to us by law and cross references these lists to determine who is not paying city income taxes. So, we are already doing what O’Neill says she will do in ensuring those who are supposed to be paying are in fact paying.

It was also stated by O’Neill that she would consider a financial advisory board. The city already has in place a finance investment board.

My intent is not to discredit a candidate. However, I feel it is necessary to inform the voters of the efficient job that we do for the citizens of Marietta. There is always room for improvement and new ideas in any office, but to imply that the current office is out of date and inefficient is unwarranted. In fact, the Income Tax collections are up over $663,000 over last year at this time.

I have taken a great deal of pride in my work as Marietta’s city treasurer and I feel these comments are a negative reflection upon me and my staff. I also want to take this opportunity to thank the citizens of Marietta for the trust they have bestowed upon me by their support for the last 20 years.

Valerie Holley

Marietta City treasurer