City taxpayers take advantage of amnesty program

EAST LIVERPOOL – The city recouped more than $15,000 in tax revenue it may not have seen, thanks to an amnesty program recently approved by City Council.

During council’s finance committee meeting Tuesday, Chairwoman Sherrie Curtis said income tax commissioner Tracey Tennant reported that seven taxpayers had taken advantage of the amnesty program, which allowed people to pay their delinquent taxes in full with no penalties and a reduced interest rate from Jan. 1 through Feb. 14.

Those seven taxpayers paid a total of $15,732, also paying their current taxes, Curtis said.

“It wasn’t a great response, but it was a response and they paid their current taxes, so we got them on the tax rolls,” Curtis pointed out.

The city has contracted with Cleveland’s Central Collection Agency to begin collecting delinquent taxes, and the amnesty program was put in place to allow residents to pay up before the CCA program took effect.

Also during the meeting, the committee agreed to forward for council’s consideration the 2014 budget totaling $16.8 million, including a $4.3 million general fund.

Service-Safety Director Ryan Estell reported to committee members that the city now has a full-time mechanic for the first time in many years, with the hiring of Herman “Pete” Flowers, who will start on the job March 10.

Estell said 19 people were interviewed, saying, “We had a lot of great candidates.”

Flowers will earn $16.85 per hour and Estell said hiring a mechanic was made possible financially by another worker moving from a maintenance position into the wastewater department and not being replaced, with the mechanic’s position filled instead.

Estell told the committee the city has also seen an increase in the number of people applying for Civil Service Commission tests, reflecting on the economy and need for jobs.

Many of those applying are “high quality” applicants, according to Estell, who gave as an example two men recently discharged from the U.S. Marines who hadn’t been able to find work.

Starting Monday, applications were made available for the upcoming competitive exam for firefighter, and Estell said he believed 10 people picked up applications the first day.