EAST LIVERPOOL - A revision to the city's income tax code passed on first reading at this week's City Council meeting, but not without some concern expressed by council members.
Councilman Chuck Wade supported the first reading but said unless some "major changes" are made in the newly revised ordinance, he will not support it in subsequent readings.
Asked after the meeting what, specifically, he wants to see changed, Wade pointed to a couple provisions in which the Internal Revenue Service is now requiring taxes to be withheld from different types of income.
Reminded that those are federal provisions that the city would most likely have to uphold, Wade asked, "What are they going to do if we don't pass it, put us in jail?"
Ryan Stovall, former 2nd Ward councilman who just stepped down last week due to a residence change, addressed council about the income tax ordinance on which he had worked.
He pointed out that about 95 percent of the proposed legislation just updates code which had not been updated since 1964, saying committee members and tax office personnel had looked at other communities' tax codes for inspiration, primarily Salem.
Among the actual changes made include provisions to tax gas and oil royalties, which the city is currently prohibited from taxing; requiring landlords to file a quarterly report with tenants' names to make them accountable for their income taxes; and requiring contractors to register with the income tax office prior to obtaining their building permits from the planning department.
Councilman Scott Barrett balked at the revised code, saying many people don't want to live in the city "because everything is rules and regulations," saying, "We need to slow down on rules and regulations. Salem is different than us; 60 percent of its storefronts aren't empty."
Wade also said Salem is in a better financial position than the city, but Councilman Sherrie Curtis pointed out, "Salem may have more business but our expenses are on par if not greater than theirs."
She noted that 60-70 percent of the city's revenue comes from income tax.
Councilman Ray Perorazio said he had tried to get a tonnage fee enacted several months ago, to no avail, complaining, "We have all these (businesses) on River Road paying a minute amount compared to the money they're making and we're worried about these people getting royalties. It seems like we don't go where the money is."
Stovall urged council members to take their questions and concerns to income tax Commissioner Tracey Tennant, and it was also noted there are copies of the tax code available for public review in the mayor's and treasurer's office at City Hall.
It has been emphasized that these changes to the code will not change the current 11/2 percent income tax, which can only be changed by voters.