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Legislation concerning collection of delinquent taxes to be considered

December 11, 2013
By JO ANN BOBBY-GILBERT - East Liverpool Reporter ( , The Review

EAST LIVERPOOL - City council will be considering legislation Monday authorizing an agreement with the city of Cleveland for collection of delinquent income taxes.

Council's finance committee reviewed the ordinance at its meeting Tuesday, with Chairwoman Sherrie Curtis having advised council at its last meeting that such an agreement had been looked at by her and tax Commissioner Tracey Tennant.

They had spoken with officials in Salem, where a similar agreement is in place.

Larger municipalities have access to Internal Revenue Tax information that the smaller communities do not, and with this agreement in place, Cleveland can compare East Liverpool's tax rolls with information to which it has access to locate those who have filed federal tax returns but not city income tax returns.

In this way, those who have not filed can be identified and contacted to file and pay, according to officials.

"This will be a collection agency (for the city)," committee member Ryan Stovall pointed out.

The service will cost the city nothing, since taxpayers will be assessed any fees and penalties incurred as part of collection.

In relation to this agreement, the committee also forwarded for council's consideration an ordinance directing Tennant to establish a tax amnesty program that will allow taxpayers six weeks to come into compliance before facing the collection process from Cleveland.

Individual, business and withholding tax will be covered by the amnesty period between Jan. 1 and Feb. 14 of next year. Amnesty will cover non-filed tax returns as well as unpaid and under-reported taxes unknown to the tax department.

If approved by council, the amnesty period will be offered as a one-time-only offer for that period, allowing taxpayers to clear up any tax issues with no penalties or fees prior to starting the new program with Cleveland.

Also forwarded for council's consideration was an ordinance authorizing the board of control to advertise and contract for electrical upgrades at the water treatment plant and a "clean up" ordinance adjusting appropriations in various funds for the end of the year.

A brief discussion ensued on legislation pending before council regarding increasing salaries to $600 per month for council, president of council, the clerk and treasurer to ensure those officials receive credit toward their pensions.

Councilman Russell Dray said he had been called by some firefighters asking what happens to the money that will be "given up" by council if the legislation passes.

Council could have increased the salaries to $1,000 per month and received not only a pension but health coverage upon retirement, but opted for the lower amount. The legislation has passed first reading by council, but not without opposition.

Mayor Jim Swoger said it has always been the administration's desire to hire an additional firefighter, with Curtis saying the $60,000 difference between the $600 and $1,000 salaries has already been included in the temporary budget in the fire fund.

Stovall emphasized that only the administration, not council, can actually hire employees. He noted it would be at least April before the fire department could hire due to the need to compile a new eligibility list through Civil Service.

Resident Dave Martin addressed the committee regarding the proposed increase in salaries, asking where the additional $35,000 for the increases will come from.

Curtis said it is coming from the miscellaneous fund which is set aside to cover unexpected expenses.

"As a taxpayer, I don't think you should take $35,000 for 10 people's benefits," Martin told council members after the meeting.

The committee agreed to change its Dec. 31 meeting to 11 a.m. Dec. 30 due to New Year's Eve.



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