Mayor Berlin writes regarding RITA

To the editor:

It is time for Salem to join the Regional Income Tax Agency (RITA) and over 300 other Ohio communities in their joint effort to reduce the cost of income tax collection.

From the first day income tax collection began over 60 years ago in Salem the possibility of consolidation with other cities has been present. No one questions that all previous and current Income Tax Department employees have served our city with integrity and diligence. But from the first day our Income Tax Department was formed there existed the option that your city council took recently to reduce the cost of income tax collection.

City council deliberations on this topic began in April 2019, nine months ago. Dozens of questions were asked and answered before an authorization to proceed came across my desk. I am sure that when Salem’s Income Tax Department was formed in 1960, there were many problems necessary to be resolved. My hope is that the very proud and well-respected current Income Tax Department employees will facilitate an orderly transition to the next phase of income tax collection in the city of Salem.

The reality is the savings are real and corroborated by the cost data statistics of over 300 cities using RITA as their income tax administrator. An average tax collection cost of six cities in the group, comparable in size to Salem, was $116,399 in 2018.

RITA’s annual financial statements, available online, show that as the number of cities joining the agency has increased, the average cost per member city has gone down. Salem’s Income Tax Department cost was $187,748.83 in 2018 and $193,511.08 in 2019, and shows a pattern of increasing annually. After adjusting for the new manner in which electronic deposits will be made into the city’s bank account, and utilizing the city’s current method of taxpayer identification, including the federal return sweep, the potential savings of over $69,000 annually or $138,000 for just these past two years, cannot be ignored.

In 2015, Salem’s income tax laws were changed. One part of that change included that the tax administrator for the city of Salem could be the Regional Income Tax Agency. I understand that there is a spirited campaign to reverse council’s decision to move forward with this administrative change. The issue of responsible cost savings in income tax collection is not going away. It will eventually happen. If not this year, then next year or the year after or the year after that. Please support your city council’s nine-month long deliberation and decision to move forward with the administrative change to join RITA and do not delay this cost saving changeover. It is time to join over 300 cities in the RITA system… now!

Mayor John BERLIN,