CLAYTON — City council held the first reading and immediate enactment of an ordinance Thursday to adopt Sections 718.80 through 718.95 of the Ohio Revised Code under emergency status.
“This is the third time we’ve had to make changes to our income tax ordinance because the state is making changes on our behalf,” said Finance Director Kevin Schweitzer. “House Bill 49 of the net profit collection of taxes for businesses allowed them to opt-in to have businesses file through the business gateway and collect the taxes that we assessed. The state will charge us a small fee and then we will get the money, I believe monthly. In order to protect our ordinance, we are still involved with other cities going through the courts trying to get this kicked out due to violating Home Rule. That case is still ongoing. They are supposed to have a judgement or decision by February 24. In the meantime we have to adopt these changes and stick them into our ordinance.”
Schweitzer added that adoption of the sections does not mean the city agrees with the legislation, but rather is a measure to protect the city so it can still collect taxes from business profits until the court proceeding reaches a ruling.
“How is this not saying that we agree with it? If every city approves it what is the chance for the Ohio Municipal League to get anything done?” asked Vice Mayor Tim Gorman.
Law Director Martina Dillon said a temporary injunction was issued, but the state mandated that cities adopt the new provisions by January 31.
The parties to the lawsuit in Franklin County Common Pleas Court of which Clayton is a part, as well as many other municipalities in the state. The court entered an agreed judgement entry extending the deadline for a ruling until February 24. Hearings were held on Feb. 12 and Feb. 13 with respect to the temporary injunction to see whether it would become a permanent injunction. The judge stated he would make a decision by Feb. 24.
“The text of the ordinance that we are adopting tonight says that we are not giving up any of our rights in this lawsuit and if the preliminary injunction goes forward, and or, these provisions are declared unconstitutional then they are stayed and at some point in time if we need to repeal them because of a finding of unconstitutionality we can take it up at that point in time,” Law Director Martina Dillon said. “The reason we felt we needed to adopt it now instead of calling a special meeting for next week and to do it as an emergency this evening, is that there is a provision in the tax code that says basically, if you don’t adopt this by the deadline then you run the risk of being told by the state of Ohio that you don’t have the right to collect any of your municipal income taxes.”
Council adopted the ordinance as an emergency by unanimous vote of all council members present.
Council also passed two resolutions; one to appoint a representative to the local board of tax review and a second to approve amendments of 2018 appropriations.
City Manager Rick Rose announced that the city has an opening for a volunteer to service on the city’s board of tax review. There is one vacancy for a two year term. The board only convenes if someone contests and files an appeal for their taxes. Any citizen interested in filling the position should submit a letter of interest as well as a list of qualifications to the city offices to the attention of the city manager by the end of February.