By DENISE GRANT
Findlay City Council has voted to join a class-action lawsuit challenging the State of Ohio’s plans to collect net-profit taxes from businesses.
The rules of council requiring three separate readings were suspended, and the ordinance was adopted after its first reading during council’s regular session Tuesday.
The vote was 9-0, with Councilman John Harrington, R-5, absent. Council also approved $6,000 to help pay for legal expenses.
Ohio House Bill 49, which is Gov. John Kasich’s two-year budget bill, will allow business owners to file tax returns directly with the Ohio Department of Taxation, instead of with the municipality in which the business operates.
The state says the new rule will streamline the filing process for businesses, which often operate in multiple municipalities.
However, the Ohio Municipal League calls it a “power grab.”
According to the Municipal League, the law will give the state control of over $600 million in municipal revenue, and allow the state to collect interest from the local government revenue, while denying municipalities that ability.
The Central Ohio Mayors and Managers Association, representing about 17 cities in central Ohio, has decided to file the suit, with cities throughout the state joining in.
In a letter to council dated Oct. 13, Law Director Donald Rasmussen said, “As you are aware, the State of Ohio has once again assaulted our constitutional home rule powers. Central collection may affect our ability to review returns for accuracy, and affect our ability to correct, audit and review returns. It may also affect our ability to verify rental income on business filings, and eliminate our ability to approve refunds, among other things.”
Rasmussen said the expense to the city to join the suit is worth it.
“I believe it is necessary to not only protect our rights to municipal income tax revenue, but to fight the state from further eroding away our home rule authority,” he said.
In other business Tuesday, Mayor Lydia Mihalik submitted to council the names of her appointees to the Downtown Design Review Board.
Appointees include Eric Anderson, Pat Ball and Dr. Duane Wires, all downtown business owners; Angela Debosky, Findlay-Hancock County Economic Development; Jeff Fort, attorney; John Hunt and Brad Wagner, both employed downtown; Hardy Hartzel, construction specialist; and Jerry Murray, architect.
Their terms will expire Dec. 31, 2018.
In September, council voted to create the review board. The board will set standards for the outside appearance of downtown buildings.