Rogers considers income tax

ROGERS – Village Council could receive $17,250 a year from a proposed 1 percent income tax, which would raise village income by 25 percent.

This was the estimate provided by Mike Sommer with the Youngstown office of the Regional Income Tax Agency, a quasi-government agency that provides income tax collection services for 215 Ohio communities. Clients include East Palestine, Wellsville and Salineville in Columbiana County, as well as larger cities such as Youngstown.

Council is considering imposing a 1 percent income tax and asked RITA to make a presentation before deciding whether to proceed. Sommer said his $17,250 estimate is based on census figures and staffing estimates for the five businesses in town provided him by Mayor Sharon Hebron.

RITA’s fee would be 6.7 percent, or $1,155 per year, with the agency responsible for determining which residents would be subject to the tax and who works at village businesses. RITA would notify them and then make the necessary collection arrangements, with taxpayers billed quarterly for estimated taxes due and distributions made to the village twice per month. RITA will also pursue delinquent taxes.

Sommer said RITA also has a secure website that taxpayers can use to arrange payments. He said the website has never been hacked and there are number of measures built into the system to protect user privacy.

RITA needs six to nine months lead time to put the billing/collection program in place, and Sommer said the earliest they could begin is January. If they miss that window, which seems likely at this point, the next time frame for implementation would be July 1, 2014.

No action was taken by council at its recent meeting since it lacked a quorum needed to conduct official business, with only Jayne Balmenti, Mark Gordon and Marilyn Locke attending the meeting. Absent were councilmen Mike Hunt and Jerry Hoon, who was out of town on work. The sixth council seat has been vacant since January.

Fiscal Officer Dale Davis wondered whether enacting an income tax was worth the hassle given it might only generate $17,250, which would represent a 25 percent increase in the village’s current annual income of $68,000.

“I just wanted to point this out to the people in this room who are going to make the decision,” he said.

Davis also raised the issue of whether any company they hire to install and operate traffic cameras to monitor speeding in the village would also be subject to the income tax. “Part of my job is to look for whatever resource we can,” he said.

Council is currently seeking bids from companies interested in providing the traffic-camera service, and Sommers indicated any company would likely be subject to the tax.

Davis reported two vendors interested in bidding on the traffic-camera contract have picked up proposals so far, one of which was Optotraffic, the firm that originally made a sales pitch to council. Rather than award the contract outright to Optotraffic, council decided it had better go through the bidding process since the amount to be paid any company would likely exceed the $50,000 threshold requiring formal bids.

Council’s next meeting is 7 p.m. July 9.