Barnesville council dealing with tax ‘glitch’
BARNESVILLE-“This is a glitch,” says Darla Fuller, Barnesville fiscal officer. “We’re trying to work it out now.” Fuller answered questions from village council and from a resident whose daughter received a letter of non-compliance from Barnesville’s income tax collection service, CCA in Cleveland.
The gentleman’s daughter is a college student in Pittsburgh and still uses her parents’ address. The system snagged her because she filed a federal return but paid no village income tax. Her income, however, came from outside of Barnesville while she was living in Pittsburgh, but the system did not pick that up.
William Knox, CPA, said a dozen clients contacted him Monday about similar letters from CCA. When he tried calling the company on one client’s behalf, he noted the support “was less than it should have been.” He added that employees of the school district, Barnesville Hospital and Village of Barnesville who pay withholding tax should not have received letters.
Fuller explained that 500 letters went out on Friday, but the CCA computers determined the recipients based on IRS returns. Council members and Fuller want to assure residents that any issues will be resolved and those who received a letter should contact the Barnesville Clerk’s office at (740) 425-3444.
Council had more questions and discussion about the draft of the 2014 budget presented by Fuller. Councilman John Jefferis was looking for explanations on several items including what appeared to be a continual deficit in the sewer department, what appeared to be an underestimate of the water revenue, differences in the capital improvements line item and what appeared to be a mathematical error in yearly totals.
Fuller said that the document was a preliminary draft budget that contained estimates and projections on which the county auditor could base next year’s appropriation to the village. The final budget, which will be prepared in September, will include more solid numbers once the 2013 trends are determined.
Councilman Terry McCort backed Fuller up saying that this draft budget is a starting point for the county and anticipates costs based on previous years expenses and revenues.
Jefferis still questioned the logic of showing the sewer department at a continual deficit since 2009 when, in fact, additional funds cover the gap. Councilman Brad Hudson agreed.
The draft 2014 budget did pass on a 4-2 vote, with Hudson and Jefferis voting no. The budget is due at the county auditor’s office by July 20.
Members also addressed energy matters at Monday night’s meeting. A representative from Volunteer Energy presented the village with a check in the amount of $3,425.33 from the community reinvestment program for natural gas aggregation. She noted that Volunteer handles aggregated electricity which could save households an average of 25 percent. Village Solicitor Marlin Harper said that he drew up an ordinance to place the issue on the November ballot that must be into the Board of Elections by August 5.
Paul Prater of AEP spoke to council regarding the impending expiration of the 50-year franchise agreement with AEP in 2014. He suggested that members consider implementing a 10 year agreement with an automatic yearly renewal policy after the initial 10 years. The agreement is more flexible with facility indemnity issues for both parties and has been successful in other municipalities. Prater asked for three separate readings at three different meetings, the first of which was Monday night, to allow for public notification.
As an aside, Prater noted that AEP also offers an aggregation program and that people are able to sign up individually. He encouraged residents to visit the Public Utilities Commission website, www.puco.ohio.gov, and click on the “Apples to Apples Rate Charts” to see available programs.
In safety, Fire Chief Bob Smith asked Mayor Ron Bischof to appoint Brianna Clark, currently on the emergency squad, to the fire department, also. The mayor did so with council’s approval, and Clark is now Barnesville’s first female fire fighter.
Village administrator Roger Deal updated council on two potential construction projects. He met with an ODOT representative regarding the intersection of State Routes 147 and 800 and truck traffic. ODOT agreed that the turning space issue should be addressed, but stated that it is a village project rather than ODOT’s. There is no funding available at this time from the state for the project.
The Pike Street culvert preliminary estimate amounts to $355,000 for 1,180 feet of pipe and an 89 inch by 59 inch culvert. There are some construction issues already, and the pipe has been labeled as being in “fatal” condition. Deal is looking for funding for this project.
Councilman Dale Bunting expressed thanks to the groundskeepers at Memorial Park during the “Beast of the East” weekend. Only one game had to be cancelled due to weather-related field conditions because of the attention and efforts of those working that weekend.
The Barnesville village council meets every other Monday at 7 p.m. Matt Hammer of the Ohio EPA will be attending the July 29 meeting.
Valenti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.