LIMA — Lima City Council voiced its opposition to an Ohio House bill overseeing municipal income taxes Monday night.
After some discussion and a second reading, council voted 6-2 to oppose Ohio House Bill 601, which proposes uniformity measures for municipal income taxes. Mayor David Berger said he supported the opposition of the bill. He said Lima is a member of the Ohio Municipal League, an organization that lobbies for the city and advised him to oppose it.
“They have assured us for the last several years that they have been engaging in dialogue with the members of the legislature, and none of the issues that they have raised as priority issues have been adequately addressed in what is now House Bill 601,” he said. “They have further advised us that the devil is in the details, and there are lots of little goodies that have been buried in this bill that will hurt cities.”
HB 601 requires municipal corporations levying an income tax as of Jan. 1, 2014, to amend or repeal their existing income tax ordinances and re-enact them according to the bill’s limitations.
The bill creates a Municipal Tax Policy Board, comprised of seven governor-appointed municipal tax administrators, to create rules, prescribe forms and other documents, provide instructional materials to taxpayers and take other actions concerning the statewide administration and enforcement of municipal income taxes.
The two councilmen that opposed the resolution and support the bill were Kurt Neeper, 1st Ward, and Sam McLean, 2nd Ward. Both said they think opposing the bill would hurt businesses.
“First of all, the issue at hand is one that does inhibit businesses coming into the state or actually businesses that are operating within our state,” Neeper said. “Ohio has over 600 taxing entities with different forms and different filing deadlines. That creates a great deal of hardship for businesses.”
Council also took a look at the city’s 2013 budget for the first time Monday night. Berger submitted a letter and detailed estimates for the council to look over. That budget estimated the general fund to be $27, 276,869 for 2013.
Berger said if Congress fails to act before the end of the year and the impending fiscal cliff goes into effect, Lima should keep its head above water with his estimates.
“As a result of very conservative spending over the last several years, we’ve managed to build our carry-over into next year,” he said Monday. “And as a result of that, should the fiscal cliff hit and additional cuts be made to city revenues in the coming year, we think we can sustain ourselves. So we’re obviously hopeful that the decision makers in Washington come to an agreement that does not result in that kind of damage, but I think that should they not come to an agreement, we’ve prepared ourselves pretty well to sustain levels of service.”
Council unanimously received and filed his letter and referred it to council's finance committee, which will meet next year.
Council also referred a letter from Lima Fire Chief Mark Heffner requesting council’s approval to establish fees for fire inspections to council's safety services committee.
The ordinance would establish fees required for fire inspections. For a initial new construction inspection, the cost would be $175, and a re-inspection would cost $40. A first follow-up inspection would cost $85, a second follow-up would be $125, a third follow-up would be $175, and a fourth follow-up would be $250, with subsequent follow-ups increasing at $50 increments.
Existing construction inspections would be $75, and re-inspecting existing construction would be $45. Inspecting a child daycare or foster home would be $45, according to the ordinance.
The safety services committee will meet next Monday at 5 p.m. to discuss the issue.