Former city treasurer addresses RITA
To the editor:
First, I wish to thank you (voters) and Mayor John Berlin. The mayor for suggesting me to be treasurer of the city of Salem and you for electing me for 2014-2018.
It was a great learning experience. I had not known that Salem had a 1 percent income tax since 1968. The city has been a good steward of your money. Thomas Jefferson was correct in that local government spends your money more wisely since its members live among you and can thus experience your wrath. Federalism — and lately the play “Alexander Hamilton” — has been championed as great. Yet, you should realize that in over 240 years of federal government we have had only 34 balanced budgets. Your money is but paper-backed by the largest debtor in the world and history. Our money is destined to be worthless.
Need I say more about federal income tax? Sales tax was started by the state and county at 3 percent. It’s now 7 1/2 percent. RITA has a fee of 3 percent of total tax collected. The Salem Tax Dept. last year cost you $3,000 less then that. Or you might as well say 3 percent. RITA does average 1.42 percent charge to all the cities as a whole. They collect interest and other fees off your money and credit this off your 3 percent fee. Some cities have been charged more then 3 percent. You lose your tax department and are then at the mercy of RITA, which can raise your fee in the future. You also have to travel to Youngstown or Streetsboro if you need personal help or use telephone assistance.
Yes, the residents of Gahanna sued RITA in 2012 for using the wrong tax rate and overcharging everyone. Instead of admitting its error, it was legally settled for millions in 2019. RITA also in 2018 wanted to hire an advisory firm to recommend a pay scale for employees due to low morale and job turnover. They have close to 200 employees, we have four. They are a bureaucracy, we are a small local department, whose expenses are controlled locally.
Councilmen Null and Salvino said our department costs 4.8 percent. They are counting overpayment refunds as a cost to our tax dept. I greatly question their accounting. All the past and present Salem city treasurers oppose RITA and we’re not consulted by council or the mayor — Tullis, Conrad, Apple. My advice to you is to keep your money close. Federal, state and county have proven that the farther your money travels from you, the more unwisely and frivolously it is spent. Uncle Sam is a drunken sailor.
DR. JOHN CONRAD,
Former city treasurer,