Home Money City Council talks new tax codes that some say could hurt Athens

City Council talks new tax codes that some say could hurt Athens

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Members of Athens City Council were hesitant about the new tax code pushed forward by the state of Ohio at their meeting Monday.

Introduced last week by Income Tax Administrator Tina Timberman, the tax code came up once again Monday when an ordinance amending the city tax code was brought up for first reading.

The city would not be permitted to collect taxes if they didn’t adopt the new code, but several council members expressed concerns over the changes the new code would bring.

“The state is kind of threatening us,” Councilwoman Chris Fahl, D-4th Ward, said. “The state legislature has done a lot of damage to our budget over the last four to six years by cutting our municipal and general operating funds that we get from them. This is just another instance where it’s going to impact Athens, costing us money, making it more difficult to do the job that the tax administration has to do.”

Councilman Steve Patterson, D-At Large, also expressed concerns, saying there were potential issues with the constitutionality of the new code.

“There’s a lot of contradictions in the code,” Patterson said later. “It’ll say one thing, and then a little later it will say the opposite in reference to the same thing. It’s a problem, and my concern is for small businesses who don’t have a 30-person staff to try to maneuver this.”

The issue also has the potential to hurt the city’s tax revenue. Critics say the new tax code will likely cause expensive problems the city will be forced to fix, which will be coupled with bigger loopholes for businesses that otherwise would pay taxes in the city.

“There’s an occasional entrance tax for businesses who work here part time, and we had it worked out with them that they would pay for whatever approximate percentage of time they spent in the city,” Kathy Hecht, the city auditor, said later. “Now we won’t be able to do that, and there’s a chance they won’t have to pay the taxes at all.”

While the issue won’t be decided for at least another four weeks, council members are still unsure of what will happen.

“It’s going to cost the city money,” Fahl said. “I don’t think it will be good for us because it might end up hurting us a lot in the end.”

The council also approved several measures, including the sale of a fire truck and funds for a new lawnmower for the city cemetery.

The city also approved a resolution to support a request for proposal for new renewable energy supply in the county. The measure does not guarantee anything, but it encourages proposals from surrounding areas.

“It’s just a request for proposals,” Fahl said. “We’re just saying as a city we support this idea of requesting a proposal. There’s certain guidelines to put in for the project. We haven’t gotten any proposals yet, but it’s for a solar farm out in Albany.”

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