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Hearing due on Salem’s RITA issue

LISBON — Those on both sides of the Salem Regional Income Tax Agency (RITA) initiative petition will get a chance to voice their reasons for the referendum petitions and the protest against it before a decision is made about whether or not it will be placed on the ballot.

During their meeting Tuesday, the county Board of Elections began preparing for a public hearing, tentatively planned for 1:30 p.m. Friday. However, first they want to make certain the conference room upstairs above their facility in the Dickey Drive government building is available to hold the hearing. Due to

the coronavirus, the board wants a larger space for everyone to be able to spread out.

Additionally, elections director Kim Fusco will have to hire a court reporter, who board chairman David Johnson said will be responsible for making a record of everyone’s testimony. Both sides will be asked to testify under oath and provide any documentation they want to be considered by the elections board.

Johnson said he consulted with the secretary of state’s office and this quasi-judicial hearing needs to be done soon so a decision can be made about whether the referendum will be placed on the Nov. 3 ballot.

The referendum petition filed by a group of Salem residents seeks to void Salem City Council’s recent decision to replace the city income tax collection officer with RITA. Salem Auditor Betty Brothers has just completed the second step of certifying the sufficiency and validity of the petitions. But a protest has been filed by Salem Councilwoman Cyndi Baronzzi Dickey challenging the validity of the RITA referendum petitions.

Once everything is in place, the elections board will notify both sides about attending the hearing.

Those placing a ballot issue or running as an independent candidate on the Nov. 3 election have a deadline to meet at 4 p.m. today to file their paperwork with the elections board.

djohnson@mojonews.com

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