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Mayor Weighs In on Governor’s Plan to Take Over Tax-Collection

Here’s a hint: He’s not happy with the idea.

Once again, Mayor Michael Summers is at odds with Gov. John Kasich.

This time, it’s the governor’s plan to centralize collections that’s got Summers upset with Columbus.

“We’d spend far more money for far less effective collection and our citizens would have far less service,” he said. “I’d consider that a giant leap backwards." 

If the state consolidates and takes control over all tax-collections in the city, Summers said it would end up costing the city more. 

Lakewood stopped using the Regional Income Tax Agency (RITA) in November 2005, and began its in-house tax-collection division in an effort to save money.

“We saved about $100,000 a year by doing that,” he said. “More importantly, we’ve got direct control over the collection effort.”

So far, Kasich’s plan is just an idea — it hasn’t officially been proposed. Part of the idea is that small businesses with operations in different cities would only have to file taxes once with the state.

“We’re still in the investigating stage,” Tax Commissioner Joseph Testa told the Columbus Dispatch. “But this administration wants to move Ohio in a tax-friendly, business-friendly direction, and we feel this fits into that general theme.”

Summers called the proposal a bad deal for Lakewood taxpayers, who would lose the local customer service and support.

“This is a solution in search of a problem, driven by some theoretical argument propelled by CPAs that this is the greatest thing to happen to small businesses,” he added. “I would also submit that most small businesses aren’t in multiple cities — most of them are in one place.”

This isn’t the first time the mayor and the governor haven’t seen eye to eye.

In May, Summers that criticized Senate Bill 5 — a measure that would sharply curtail the collective bargaining rights of public employees. 

And in June, that would reduce the local government fund to Lakewood to the tune of about $1.6 million, expected to result in about 30 cuts to the city staff.

“I don’t believe half of what (Kasich) says is good for Lakewood is in fact good for Lakewood,” Summers said. “Of all times to charge us more for less service and call it a successful strategy, this is the worst time.” 

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