A bi-partisan battalion of Northeast Ohio mayors is protesting a new bill that supporters claim will make paying city taxes much easier for businesses. ideastream's David C. Barnett has more.
Ohio House Bill 5 would create a single tax form that would be used by all municipalities, and standardize exactly what income can be taxed. Sponsors claim they are responding to small businesses who complain they have to deal with different rules in different cities.
Over 20 Cuyahoga County mayors appeared at Cleveland City Hall to argue that you can't use a "one-size-fits-all" approach to local taxes. Cleveland's Frank Jackson said the proposed changes would cut into local coffers.
JACKSON: We want to create a business environment where people want to invest, but we do not want to do that at the expense of our ability to deliver services to our people.
The mayors also object to a provision to establish a Columbus-based "Tax Policy Board". Lakewood mayor Michael Summers said most cities have devised tax policies that work well to fund local needs…
SUMMERS: And no bureau sitting in Columbus would be able to have that wisdom that we have learned the hard way, in many cases.
Chris Ferruso of the National Federation of Independent Business has a different view. He says his Ohio members have to negotiate what he calls a "crazy patchwork" of local laws.
FERRUSO: We have in Ohio about 600 cities and villages that levy a municipal income tax and there are about 300 different forms that are currently out there, so for my typical member, trying to comply with every little nuance that exist, depending what jurisdictional boundaries you cross, can be very challenging.
Bay Village mayor Deborah Sutherland says she and her colleagues don't object to the entire bill. But, she argues state lawmakers need to hear city concerns and be willing to make some changes.
SUTHERLAND: Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Maybe we won't get this perfect in the eyes of some legislators, but I think we can come up with a really good solid solution that does not compromise our business interests and growth in communities, but also does not compromise our ability to provide services for our people and our municipalities.
HB5 is separate from the tax reform package lawmakers are considering as part of Governor Kasich's 2-year budget proposal.