SIDNEY — At Monday night’s Sidney City Council meeting, a resolution was passed that is in strong opposition to Governor John Kasich’s proposed 2017-2018 budget, which would require the state to begin collecting municipal income taxes that will be distributed later to Sidney.
City Manager Mark Cundiff said the centralized collections of net profit tax returns could cause a substantial loss of revenue. He said using 2016 results, having to pay the state’s 1 percent collection fee of $51,000, that would have been derived from the $5.1 million of the $19.8 million collected, normally is applied to the city’s permanent 1.5 percent income tax levy and any special tax levies, such as the 0.25 percent street tax levy.
He said after the state’s “slashing”of the local government fund, estate tax, and reimbursement of tangible personal property tax, Sidney is now more dependent upon municipal income tax for revenue. Cundiff said the proposal is contradictory to the idea of smaller government.
Furthermore, he said there is no assurance the state will audit and Sidney income tax returns and collect delinquencies as thoroughly as the city. He pointed out the governor’s fact sheet notes the state would “audit returns when appropriate” without providing answers of how municipalities could verify returns and refund requests are accurate.
Council members expressed concern and questioned how best to oppose the state.
Vice Mayor Mardie Milligan asked about the city’s cash flow, mentioning the city may need to borrow money on a rotating basis, as it is her understanding it could take up to a year for funds to be returned from the state to Sidney.
Finance Officer Ginger Adams said funds are distributed quarterly, but Mayor Mike Barhorst pointed out it is hard to determine which quarter it could be distributed — in two or three or more quarters in the future from collection. Adams said Sidney’s cash flow is dependent upon the state’s cash ensure. She said the current interest rates are low now but are expected to rise.
Council member Ed Hamaker said what really bothers him is the line, “audit returns when appropriate;” he said it may never happen.
Council member Darryl Thurber said he is concerned this can help the state get a foot in the door to control more of local government.
Cundiff said all or many of Dayton area mayors and city managers have signed petitions and/or pass resolutions opposing the state from collecting the income taxes.
Wagner said this is the second item discussed on Monday’s agenda of “another attempt of the erosion on home rule” by the state (referring to the earlier senate passage of the installation of small cell antenna towers.)
Law Director Jeffrey Amick said to make real change, pressure needs to come from the electorate. He said it is important for the public to be made of aware, and for them to tell their representatives how disturbed they are if they are effected by what the state is doing. He said state representatives really don’t care what local government says.
In other business, council adopted two ordinances to assess the cost of the 2016 sidewalk construction/repair program and for supplemental appropriations for 2017.
Sidney Engineering Manager Randy Magoto said Sidney notified property owners who had sidewalk repairs completed by a city contractor of their estimated costs, as well as the option to object to the proposed amount assessed. He said no written objections have been received, so notice of payment due will be sent out in two weeks from Monday’s meeting. Property owners will given 60 days to pay or have it assessed to their property taxes over a five year period through the County Auditor’s Office.
Council was introduced to an ordinance to amend the traffic control map to establish a “No Parking” zone on the east side of Wilkinson Avenue beginning at the south cube line of Culvert Street proceeding 400-feet to the south.
Magoto said, “Due to the poor condition of the existing buildings formerly known as Wagner Manufacturing, it has become necessary to eliminate parking along the east side of Wilkinson Avenue in the area adjacent to these buildings until such time when these structures are removed.”
Council discussed whether to expedite the ordinance as an emergency, due to the fragile condition of the deteriorating wall along the road. However, since there currently are temporary no parking signs erected, and the walkway is blocked off for use, it was determined the situation is being controlled to allow for normal passage procedure of the ordinance.
Other than opposition to the governor’s proposed budget, council also adopted two other resolutions, and they are:
• Declaring the necessity of constructing and repairing certain city sidewalks and requiring abutting property owners to repair the same. Magoto said letters have been sent to property owners to alert them of the necessary pending repairs.
Thurber questioned if something should or could be done to prevent property owners from having to make the same sidewalk repairs every three years or so due to tree roots continuously breaking them up. Magoto said when these repairs are assessed, they have an arborist go with them to determine how much of the roots can be safely cut away without harming the trees in order to make the repairs. Magoto said the Sidney Tree Board and/or arborist can be contacted for recommendations.
• Authorization of the city manager to enter into a cooperative agreement with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) for the traffic signal upgrade project at the intersection of state Route 47 and Fourth Avenue. Sidney’s share of construction cost is estimated at $119,240, but is off-set by the revenue credit of $119,240, which leaves a zero balance. ODOT’s bid letting of the project is March 2017 with construction anticipated to be completed by Nov. 27, 2018.
Cundiff reminded the public that city offices will be closed on Monday, Feb. 20, in observation of Presidents’ Day. He also commented on the City Manager’s Newsletter issued on Feb. 10, on the January 2017 tax report in which income tax collection totals reflects a 2.7 percent decrease in withholding from January 2016 to January 2017. The report shows a “bump” in receipts in 2016 of about $540,000 due to semi-monthly withholding payments made by larger employers; a requirement of from Ohio House Bill 5.
In addition, council went into an executive session for pending or imminent court action. No action was taken when they emerged.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.