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RITA reps due at EL council meeting

EAST LIVERPOOL — Will the city be the latest municipality to join the Regional Income Tax Agency (RITA) family?

The agency’s representatives will be on hand during tonight’s council meeting to make their pitch to the latest city or village in Columbiana County that is debating contracting out for their services and abandoning their own income tax administration and collection department.

Councilman Fred Rayl, who oversees the city’s Finance Committee, said representatives from RITA will make a 20-minute presentation on the benefits of outsourcing income tax collection services to them.

Earlier this year, Salem voted 5-2 to join RITA, a move that could have allowed Salem to eliminate its city income tax office before COVID delayed collections.

In the case of East Liverpool, records requests were made regarding the proposed contract; however, they haven’t received any written proposal yet, according to city administrators.

Around 300 municipalities contract with RITA for tax service. RITA also oversees collection for every other municipality in Columbiana County, meaning that East Liverpool is the lone hold out.

When asked about the upcoming visit, East Liverpool Mayor Greg Bricker said officials have an obligation to hear them out especially considering the city’s current financial woes.

“We must continuously do our due diligence to see if we are doing what is in the residents best interest. We are going to ask a lot of questions to see if the switch would be right for East Liverpool,” he added.

Many locals prefer the city service, where they file a single page form, which is accompanied by their W2s, 1099s and a copy of their federal return, compared to the RITA six-page form.

This hasn’t been the first time East Liverpool has considered switching to RITA, according to Auditor Marilyn Bosco.

Several years ago, council looked at having RITA oversee their tax collection; however, a plan to retain one city tax employee based out of city hall was considered to possibly counteract customer service concerns.

When contacted Thursday, former mayor Ryan Stovall confirmed Bosco’s recollection regarding their overture. He explained the city was reliant on its day-to-day deposits, and RITA didn’t offer that ability at the time. “It would have been a financial disaster for the city (to go with RITA). Unless that has changed, East Liverpool will face mass layoffs and loss of services because of the delay in funding,” Stovall said, adding that the agency tends to collect the money and dispense it months down the road while collecting the interest while it’s in the bank for themselves.

Bricker added he would like to see the city financially secure enough to reinstate the tax credit for those who also pay tax where they work. “(However,) before we give any credits, we must first balance our budget; and by switching to RITA, the City would potentially save a substantial amount of money.”

No information was provided to the amount of savings and how it would be achieved.

Council’s meeting begins at 6 p.m. at city hall.

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