City’s fee system is nothing more than illegal tax

Published 10:07 am Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Ohio Revised Code provides that a city may not enact an income tax that exceeds 1 percent without a vote by the citizens.

Several years ago the city placed a municipal fee on the ballot and it was defeated 2 to 1. Shortly after its defeat, city council chose to enact the municipal fee for two years despite the will of the electorate.

This fee has been renewed several times since and city government can never do away with it now. No other city in Ohio has a municipal fee. The fee is designed to circumvent the 1 percent tax requirement provide in the ORC.

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City council restructured the stormwater utility from a fee based on the amount of water each entity contributed to the problem to a fee based on water consumption by that entity.

Water consumption has absolutely nothing to do with the amount of storm water one contributes to the problem.

This type of fee structure has been overturned in every Ohio court it has been contested in due to its inequity. The courts have ruled that the amount of fee must be based on the amount of water run off into the system.

Currently, a single-family household may be paying more than major contributors to the problem solely because they use more potable water.

The lowest rate any business can pay for garbage collection is $22 per month or double the residential rate. Many small businesses such as my own are responsible for only one bag of garbage per week.

Very few residences have fewer than three bags per week.

These businesses effectively pay double the price for one-third the service. This is not a very effective incentive to entice business into our community.

The general fund is again lean. We choose not to control spending, but instead enact yet another fee.

A fee that circumvents the spirit of the ORC and unfairly makes the wrong people pay. City council passed a $12 per month fire consumption fee on business. This is another disincentive to business locating in our community.

A small business such as mine with only one office employee in a 400-square-foot building pays the same as a business with 30,000 square feet and hundreds of people. Hard to believe each of these businesses poses the same threat to our fire department.

I would encourage council to once again look at the inequities of these fees and the possibility that they be revised to be more fair to those they affect. More fees will not encourage business and bring the growth this city desperately needs.

Bill Nenni