Ottawa Council approves ordinance to join litigation against state

By Bryan Reynolds -

OTTAWA — During Monday’s meeting, Village Council voted 4 to 2 to authorize Mayor Dean Meyer to join a coalition of other mayors filing litigation against the state, challenging the constitutionality of changes to the Ohio Revised Code related to the collection of municipal income tax.

Before the changes, municipalities collected municipal income taxes directly from their residents, through whatever company they had hired to handle tax collection and processing, and took possession of the revenue themselves.

The changes require local villages and towns to allow state government to collect and process those taxes. Then the state would release the municipal income taxes back to where they were collected from, minus a fee for the government’s services.

Concerns are the state is encroaching on rights to local rule and might use those taxes as an interest-free loan to use as it sees fit before returning the money to the municipalities.

“I see both sides of the fence,” Meyer said. “On one side I see the village of Ottawa taking a stand and saying, ‘Quit taking our money.’ On the other hand they [the state] gave us $8 million to help us take care of our flood problem. We still want grant money from them for other projects.”

Meyer said he’s concerned that if they sign up with the coalition, the village might be ineligible for grant money in the future because it stood up to the state.

“Are we going to defend the constitution of the state of Ohio, defending the rights of municipalities?” law adviser Joseph Schroeder asked. “We can still uphold our oath by supporting the litigation without joining it.”

Council President Dave Michael made a motion to adopt the ordinance as presented, which was seconded by Councilwoman Jo Deskins.

“If we’re going to contribute to the litigation we might as well join,” Deskins said.

The council also heard a presentation from the new Open Spaces Committee, presented by Councilman Tim Macke, on potential projects to make use of three flood properties purchased by the village. The committee was created during the August meeting held at the Putnam County Educational Services building.

Council unanimously approved a motion to allow the Open Spaces Committee to contact Ohio Emergency Management Agency to ask for permission to pursue the projects and to pursue funding sources.

By Bryan Reynolds

Reach Bryan Reynolds at 567-242-0362.

Reach Bryan Reynolds at 567-242-0362.

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