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CITY COUNCIL Hagan: Don't hire tax agency



Published: Fri, July 15, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Another mayoral candidate outlined his economic development plan.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- City council is expected to consider legislation to hire an agency to collect city income taxes instead of having city employees handle the job.

That proposal compelled state Sen. Robert F. Hagan, the Democratic mayoral nominee, to write Mayor George M. McKelvey a letter urging the city to delay that action. In the letter, Hagan wrote that several member communities of the Regional Income Tax Agency are leaving the organization because of significant cost increases for RITA's services.

City Finance Director David Bozanich, who's researched the benefits of joining RITA, said it is a way to improve income tax collection, and he expects the agency to generate about $300,000 in new revenue for the city in its first year.

Bozanich will present a proposal Wednesday to city council to join RITA, created in 1971 by a regional council of governments. He hopes council will approve the plan.

About 115 communities in Ohio, including Girard and Campbell, use RITA for income tax collection. RITA's fee is about 2.5 percent of the income tax it collects. The agency has the expertise and the technology to do the job, Bozanich said.

"Different candidates will say what they can to get votes, but [Hagan's] not driving this city," Bozanich said.

Avoiding battle

Bozanich declined to comment further on Hagan's request, saying he didn't want to turn this into a political battle.

When told of Bozanich's comments, Hagan, D-33rd, said he was "surprised" that the finance director wouldn't heed his advice to wait until a new administration took over the city next year to address the issue.

"Why wouldn't he want to hear what the next mayor of Youngstown has to say about this issue?" Hagan said. "They haven't done anything about this during the last eight years. It's obvious David Bozanich isn't doing his homework. It would seem suspicious they'd want to rush it through before the election and saddle the next administration with a contract that binds it."

Hagan also said Bozanich was "out of line" with his statement, and the finance director has "no right to comment on politics."

Two-prong plan

Also Thursday, Jay Williams, an independent candidate for mayor, provided further details about his economic development plan if elected in November.

Williams, who resigned in April as the city's Community Development Agency director to run for mayor, said he'd establish a cabinet-level position of grant administrator to help the city obtain financial assistance for businesses, and appoint a business development liaison to deal with issues concerning the business community.

Williams also wants to hold business summits with the local business community and streamline the permit process.

Williams has contacted officials in Liberty and Austintown to discuss the creation of Joint Economic Development Districts. The districts would allow Youngstown to offer economic development tools that townships don't have -- and charge its 2.75-percent income tax to employees in a JEDD -- on property in townships.

Austintown Trustee Bo Pritchard attended Williams' press conference and praised the mayoral candidate for the proposal. Pritchard and Williams said Akron and its surrounding communities are role models for successful JEDD projects.

Williams also received the endorsement of the Political Action Committee of the Black Knights Police Association. The association includes about 85 law enforcement officers from the Youngstown Police Department, the Mahoning County Sheriff's Department and the Youngstown State University Police Department.

skolnick@vindy.com




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