By Jeff Gallatin
Local officials working on proposed changes to municipal income tax collection regulations have been asked to have a working draft ready for discussion at a mid-October meeting.
Bay Village Mayor Debbie Sutherland, who is representing her city as well as other Northeast Ohio cities in the talks, said state Rep. Cheryl Grossman, a Republican from Grove City in suburban Columbus who has worked with this group of officials, said she’d like to discuss it when the group holds its next meeting Oct. 12. The group includes representatives from cities, chamber of commerce groups, businesses, accounting and other people involved with the collection of municipal income tax. It was formed after Gov. John Kasich and other officials indicated they were considering changes to how municipal income taxes are collected.
“It’s a little faster track than we expected,” Sutherland said Friday. “Nothing specific has been decided yet, and we have a lot of areas still under discussion.”
The group formed after a discussion began concerning proposed income tax changes. One area they expressed major reservations about was losing any more income from municipal budgets, either from centralizing municipal income tax collections under state control or other changes that cause municipal collections to decrease more than they already have.
“We’re continuing to watch that closely,” Sutherland said. “Cities just can’t take any more in terms of cuts because of something coming from the state.”
Sutherland and other area mayors have cited the coming loss of the estate tax, as well as cuts in the local government fund, further as hampering municipal budgets already hurt by the slow economy.
“We’re in a position where we can’t take any more as cities, as well as individuals and businesses,” she said. “We’re working to make sure there is as little negative impact as possible for those groups from any other changes made by the state.”
Other parts of the discussion have focused on the need to help simplify income taxes for businesses.
“If we can help businesses, then they and their workers can be more productive,” Sutherland said. “That’s a plus for all of us. So, we just want to make sure that there aren’t additional layers of bureaucracy for them to have to deal with. We want to cut down on difficulties for businesses, people and cities.”
Sutherland said group members will continue to work in honing different ideas in time for discussion at the October meeting. She said she anticipates much discussion on proposals and ideas in coming weeks.
“We’ve got a lot of different people, so there are different ideas and perceptions about how to proceed out there,” she said. “Right now, there isn’t a lot that is specific to discuss. We should know more about that after we have the meeting in mid-October.”