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Council works to change tax code

October 10, 2012
Morning Journal News

EAST LIVERPOOL - An updated version of the city income tax code will be considered for adoption at Monday's meeting of City Council after a meeting of its finance committee Tuesday at which the revised code was reviewed.

The code has been worked on several weeks by the committee, city tax department and Law Director Charles Payne.

Primarily, changes reflect updates to law and language, but a few significant additions were made, including adding a provision by which income tax will have to be paid by those who receive more than $1,000 in gas and/or oil royalties.

Also new is a provision requiring those seeking a construction permit to first register with the tax department before a permit will be issued by the planning department.

The revised tax code also exempts mentally retarded and developmentally disabled employees earning less than minimum hours wage while employed at government sponsored sheltered workshops from paying income tax, which currently they pay.

With the new code in place, landlords will be required to send quarterly reports to the tax department, listing tenants who have moved in or out and will face fines of at least $25 if they fail to submit the report.

A Board of Review which has always been required but never active will also be seated, and tax Commissioner Tracey Tennant said recommendations of potential board members are welcome.

Payne recommended the legislation be held for three separate readings to allow for review of the updated code and comment at future council meetings. Copies will be available for review in the tax office and mayor's office.

Finance Chairman Sherrie Curtis emphasized the revised tax code does not include any change in the current 1 percent income tax being paid, which can only be changed by a vote of the public.

The tax code ordinance, an ordinance authorizing the city to accept donations to fund a K-9 program and an ordinance creating a new fund and line items for Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP) grant funds were all forwarded for council's consideration.

Meeting jointly with finance was council's planning committee, which discussed the 2012 CHIP grant program which is providing $500,000 for down payment assistance and tenant based rental assistance.

Marshall Bleckman of Bleckman & Associates met with the community to explain the process, saying the city has been successful in securing this grant funding for 20 years.

This year, the down payment program was reduced by 60 percent, taking the number of units from five to two with housing rehab available for two units.

Curtis said it has been a bone of contention for city officials that 30 percent of all subsidized housing in the county is located in the city, saying, "We weren't going to approve any more subsidized housing."

Curtis reminded Bleckman she was to have been notified of a meeting at which future projects and funding were discussed, but she was not notified so had no input.

"Is it all or nothing?" Curtis asked, to which Bleckman said, "You can't change it or you won't get it next year."

"So we're being held hostage again," Curtis admonished.

She said 40 percent of the housing units in the city are rental units, according to the last census and said, "That does not bode well for the city. Every time we do anything to bring in more subsidized housing, it doesn't help our tax base, that's my concern."

Bleckman said the complete renovations will be for homes that would otherwise sit empty.

Three pieces of legislation authorizing the mayor to contract for the grant program were forwarded for council's consideration Monday.



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