On Tuesday, March 7, the Oxford City Council voted to oppose Governor John Kasich’s budget proposal restructuring the collection of municipal income tax through a centralized state system.
The council’s resolution argues that this restructuring would “cause a substantial loss of revenue needed to support the health, safety, welfare and economic development efforts of Ohio Municipalities” like Oxford.
The policy was included as a provision in House Bill 49, which is the present version of the State of Ohio 2017-2018 budget currently being examined in the statehouse. It proposes that the administrative authority for the collection of municipal income tax on business net profits be transferred to the centralized Ohio Department of Taxation.
The municipal income tax is Oxford’s largest source of revenue, constituting large portions of the General Fund as well as the budget for Fire and Emergency Services. In writing the resolution, Oxford City Manager Doug Elliot says that this measure “will have a negative impact on the City of Oxford’s municipal income tax revenues and… negatively affect our ability to provide services.”
One of the more controversial facets of this proposal is the perceived intrusion on “home-rule,” an idea laid out in the State of Ohio’s constitution that guarantees certain powers to local governments. City Council’s resolution condemns the state’s action as an “unnecessary intrusion” on their local power.
Other cities in Ohio have passed similar measures opposing policy, as part of a directive from the Ohio Municipal League, who on the same day testified at the statehouse to request the removal of this provision from the overall state budget.
In that spirit, councilman Steve Dana also urged Oxford residents to make their opposition to the state’s action known by contacting their representatives in Columbus.
“If she hears from one person, that’s one person. But if she hears from seven, it’s beginning to be a little bit more serious,” Dana said.
The resolution to officially oppose a budget including the income tax restructuring provision has passed the Oxford City Council. Being a facet of the larger HB 49 Budget bill, this measure is still being discussed by lawmakers in Columbus, and must be passed before the end of the current fiscal year, which concludes June 30.