Council to discuss reciprocity, stormwater fee

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 26, 2004

Today's Ironton City Council meeting has a small agenda but one that could have a big impact on the city's residents.

Council will meet at the Ironton City Center at 6 p.m. for a meeting that will center on two issues that could ultimately cost residents: income tax reciprocity and a stormwater utility fee.

A 50-percent reduction of the reciprocity agreement that affects how residents working elsewhere pay their income taxes will be given at least a second reading. Council will also consider legislation authorizing a consultant group to develop the structure of a storm water utility fee that officials believe is needed to develop the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency's mandated Combined Sewer Overflow plan.

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According to Ohio law, employees pay an income tax where they work, but if there is no income tax there, they pay where they live. Council chairman Jim Tordiff indicated that it is his understanding that the reciprocity agreement was designed to avoid double taxation.

"It is my opinion that the reciprocity was put in place so you only pay one local tax, just like you only pay one state or federal tax," he said.

If the plan that would generate approximately $320,000 in a full year gets approved, Ironton residents who work in neighboring municipalities with an income tax, such as Portsmouth or Ashland, Ky., would also have to pay half of Ironton's income tax. Currently, those individuals are not required to pay anything to Ironton.

For example, the proposed reduction would mean that someone working in Ashland would pay the tax there, currently 1 percent, but then also be required to pay half of Ironton's tax, also currently at one percent.

Reciprocity has left many people confused but Tordiff would like to make one thing perfectly clear. Unlike an income tax increase, this adjustment to the taxing system does not get voted on at the ballot.

"Citizens, please understand that this is not going to go to the ballot. It will be decided on at a council meeting," he said. "If you have an opinion for the removal of the reciprocity or against it, I would encourage you to come voice your opinion."

Regardless, some residents who are already paying two sets of taxes will not be affected. Residents who pay Boyd County's 1-percent tax, but work outside of Ashland, are still required to pay Ironton's 1-percent tax because the reciprocal agreement only applies to municipalities, not an entire county.

In other business, council will consider a $4,700 contract with EMH&T Inc. of Gahanna to develop five categories within a stormwater utility fee that would be based on the amount of property and surface area someone owns that creates runoff.

Past projections ranged from between $7.50 and $15 per month but it could be more or less depending on the specifics.

The fee is sought to fund the development and implementation of the CSO plan. That plan will determine the volume of pollutants that go into the Ohio River and how to minimize untreated discharges.

Developing the plan by December 2005 is projected to cost more than $860,000 based on a current proposal by E.L. Robinson Engineering. Actually implementing it could cost the city $20 million over the next 20 years.