Mingo opposes proposed tax law

MINGO JUNCTION – Village Council on Tuesday agreed to send a letter to Gov. John Kasich opposing a proposed state law that will give the state the authority to collect the village’s 2 percent income tax.

Councilman Michael Herrick said proposed House Bill 5 would result in an additional loss of revenue for the village.

The village uses the Regional Income Tax Agency to collect the village’s income tax. The state Legislature is proposing creating a uniform tax collection across the state, with the state taking over the collection of village and city income taxes.

Herrick said the proposed bill includes an administrative fee as high as 10 percent for collecting the income tax. Council Clerk John Angelica said R.I.T.A. charges the village less than half of that in administrative fees.

Herrick said the village has lost a lot of state funding in the past several years. He said the village was receiving $160,000 in local government funding in 2012 and it was cut to $112,000 this year. He said there will be a 50 percent cut next year and then the funding will cease.

Herrick said there are numerous municipalities in Ohio suffering serious financial problems and any additional cut will be an extra burden.

He said the village at one time used to collect $3 million in income taxes in the village. The figure has been reduced to an estimated $700,000 this year, mainly due to the closing of the RG Steel plant.

“Now the state wants to take more of it. The governor has bragged he balanced the state budget, but it has been at our expense,” Herrick said.

Steubenville City Manager Cathy Davison also expressed concern over the proposed income tax legislation. She said the additional fees that will be charged by the state for administering income tax collections could result in a loss of $400,000 for Steubenville.

“Our local government funding has been cut in half by the state government. The state has repealed the estate tax and now wants to adversely affect the local income tax collection. We cannot afford another move to reduce our municipal income,” said Davison.

Councilman John Fabian said state Rep. Jack Cera, D-Bellaire, and state Sen. Lou Gentile, D-Steubenville, have expressed opposition to the proposed income tax change.

Fabian said a letter will be sent to Kasich opposing the measure.

Village resident Kathy Maguschak said there are problems with R.I.T.A. improperly charging residents for fees and penalties on income tax collections.

Council thanked interim village Administrator Howard Armstrong for his five months of volunteering without pay to run the administrator’s office.

Armstrong said Tuesday’s meeting would be his last.

“It has been a pleasure working with council and the citizens. Hopefully I helped a little. I encourage the position to be filled as soon as possible,” Armstrong said.

Herrick said Armstrong did a “fantastic” job, without asking for any compensation.

“On behalf of the people of Mingo Junction, we appreciate what you did. You brought volunteerism back to the people of Mingo Junction,” Fabian said.

Council will bring in a resolution thanking Armstrong for his volunteer work as administrator.

Council also approved a resolution noting May as Motorcycle Awareness Month on behalf of the American Bikers Aimed Towards Education.

Council’s finance committee will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Council also approved an ordinance establishing new fees for building permits. The prior ordinance was more than 50 years old. Under the new ordinance, there is a $25 application fee. Building permit fees will range from $15 for up to $500 in work to $300 for up to $50,000 in work. No fee shall be required for any normal maintenance and repair provided the work doesn’t include any structural changes or expansion of the structure.