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Last updated: August 25. 2013 2:08AM - 263 Views

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WAPAKONETA ó It turned out that Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel was sitting in a good example of the need for a program his office created.


Mandel visited Wapakoneta on Friday to hear from nearly 20 members of the community representing business, government and schools. He also touted some of the new initiatives he led, including a state property database.


The database, online for nearly a year now, allows Ohioans to see what the state owns. Mandel hopes that by raising awareness of state-owned property, Ohio can shed what it doesnít need and turn land into private uses and economic development.


The group informed Mandel that he was sitting in a building on property formerly owned by the state, the Wigwam. The building had formerly been a youth recreation center. Several years ago, it was purchased for development as a meeting and event space.


Ohio Senate President Keith Faber, who also serves the area as state senator, helped facilitate the process, which requires involvement at the governorís level. But the process is a lengthy one with lots of red tape, group members said.


Mandel said heís investigating how to make that easier. Faber, who attended the meeting, said he supported the database and the effort to sell more property, to get a better handle on what the state does own.


The group also discussed House Bill 5, an attempt to streamline Ohioís municipal tax code and tax collection system. Mandel has been a vocal supporter of the bill, and used information from Jack Buschur and his company, Buschur Electric in Minster, as examples of why the system needs reform.


Buschur had with him copies of the 39 tax forms and checks he had to write to municipalities for work done there, including checks of 29 cents and 41 cents. Each form and check cost Buschur about $250 for processing and accounting.


Mandel said the Ohio Municipal League had done a good lobbying job of stalling the legislation.


House Bill 5 would require municipalities to repeal their existing income tax ordinances and adopt the state code. If they donít, the state would no longer allow them to collect the tax. Income taxes represent on average 70 percent of cities' and villagesí revenue.


Municipalities fought the bill, saying it is more about rewarding special interests than uniformity, and that many of the changes would result in less revenue for cities.


Mandel also touted the stateís AAA bond rating and a new project that required legislative support, putting the stateís checkbook online. Anyone will be able to access the spending, to the penny, through the Treasurerís Office website, tos.ohio.gov.


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