Lisbon eyes joining RITA  tax agency

LISBON — A seemingly reluctant Village Council agreed this week to consider the feasibility of having an outside agency take over income tax collections.

Council voted 5-1 to investigate hiring the Regional Income Tax Agency to collect the village income tax, with Jeff Snyder casting the lone dissenting vote.

The village’s income tax administrator quit in July to take another job and council hired Megan Richards as a replacement through a temporary staffing agency. Village Fiscal Officer Tracey Wonner, who also serves as council clerk, has recommended they stick with the current arrangement rather than contract with RITA, saying having Richards in village hall provides a more personalized service for residents and the savings would be minimal.

Councilman Peter Wilson, who is not so sure, brought up the idea of hiring RITA at this week’s meeting. He pointed out the city of Columbiana announced recently it plans to contract with RITA, making it the sixth community in Columbiana County to do so, with the others being Washingtonville, Wellsville, New Waterford, Salineville and Leetonia.

“I thought we already decided we weren’t going to do that?” Snyder asked.

Wilson said they talked about it but never approached RITA for a proposal. He said now was the time to discuss it since they were in the process of passing the 2019 village budget and the decision could likely impact appropriations. Wonner said the budget can be adjusted anytime after it is passed to reflect changes that would result from hiring RITA.

“I think we need to see if it’s right for us” and not necessarily contract with RITA simply because other communities are, said Councilwoman Dawn Thomas.

Wilson said RITA’s fee is 3 percent of collections, which would come to $34,200 based on 2018 million income tax collections of $1.14 million. Based on that figure, he said the village would save at least $4,000 annually by going with RITA. Wonner said the 3 percent is RITA’s base fee and she believes fees are charged for additional services.

Wilson brought up RITA while council was in the process of voting on the 2019 budget. To eliminate any confusion, Mayor Roger Gallo told council to first pass the budget on second reading before taking up Wilson’s motion.

“You can grandstand later,” he told Wilson, who is running for mayor this year against Gallo.

Wilson then made a motion that council “at least study” going with RITA. After Gallo asked if anyone was going to second Wilson’s motion, Thomas said she would as long as it was clear they were only voting to consider the feasibility. When there was some confusion over how council voted on Wilson’s motion, Wonner polled each council member individually.

When asked afterward who was going to seek a proposal from RITA and bring it back for council consideration, Wilson assumed it would be up to him to do so.