October 23, 2014

Medina
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Brunswick City Council against 2 state bills

BRUNSWICK — City Council members took up two resolutions Monday aimed at taking a stand against state bills they say encroach on the city’s “home rule” authority.

One resolution states Council’s reason for opposing Ohio House Bill 5, a proposal supporters say is meant to reduce complications in the state’s tax code to make the state more business-friendly.

“From our view, this bill creates more bureaucracy, costs more and fails to satisfy it’s purpose,” Lynette Ozanich, Brunswick’s chief tax clerk, told Council’s Committee of the Whole on Monday.

Ozanich said the bill is a replacement of House Bill 601 that the city formally opposed in a resolution in 2012.

Ozanich said the proposed law would require 16- and 17-year-olds to pay income taxes and also take over city income tax rules and regulate how local income tax forms are created.

She said the new rules, as written, would come at an extra cost to the city.

“Penalty and interest are severely restricted in H.B. 5’s directives,” she said. “These reductions are estimated to cost the city $250,000 annually.

“This provision will reward those who do not comply with local tax laws as it does not allow for progressive penalties the longer one chooses not to file.
Those who follow the rules and comply will be subsidizing those who don’t.”

Ozanich’s comments were supported by Mayor Gary Werner, who said he was concerned what effect House Bill 5 would have for local tax court that works to find solutions for those behind on their taxes.

“We have considerable leeway in making sure we get those payments made and it looks like it will be going away,” Werner said.

At-large Councilwoman Pat Hanek, who chairs the committee, said she and other Council members would support a resolution to oppose House Bill 5.

Also Monday, Council members heard the first reading of another resolution that would broadly state the city’s opposition to a list of pending and enacted state action that would limit Brunswick’s authority.

The second resolution opposes House Bill 154, which would impact cities with mayor’s courts, including Brunswick, and criticizes “special privileges” granted to the oil and natural gas industry.

Council already has taken action to oppose state rules regarding the oil and natural gas industry.

Las month, Council passed a resolution opposing state laws that give the Ohio Department of Natural Resources the sole right to issue oil and gas drilling permits, including wells employing a controversial hydraulic fracturing process, better known as “fracking.”

Council members cited an encroachment on home rule as the basis for passing the legislation, which drew heated criticism from some local business owners as being perceived as “anti-business.”

Werner, who opposed that resolution because it was too specific in attacking the oil and gas industry, said he is in favor of the other two pending resolutions.

“When these encroachments start to hurt us — with no noticeable benefits to us — I think that’s where we draw the line,” Werner said.

Following the committee meeting, Council conducted a regular session and took action on only one item. Members unanimously approved a 922-square-foot expansion of the Giant Eagle supermarket at 3440 Center Road. The grocery chain wants to enlarge its cafe area to provide outdoor seating for customers.

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.