Pickerington residents may file taxes online
Pickerington residents will be able to file their city taxes online this tax season.
At its Aug. 18 meeting, city council approved the purchase of an $18,775 computer program that will make online filing possible, hopefully by January, Finance Director Linda Fersch said.
Councilman Brian Sauer cast the lone vote against purchasing the software.
Sauer said he disagreed with spending money on computer software for the existing tax department, when the city could save $40,000 to $70,000 by dissembling the department and outsourcing the work to the Regional Income Tax Authority (RITA).
The savings would come from eliminating staff positions. In addition, other cities that use RITA have received an extra 2 to 4 percent in revenue each year because RITA aggressively pursued delinquent taxpayers using IRS audits, Sauer said.
"We've talked for the last year and a half about tax increases, and one was soundly defeated," Sauer said. "My point of view is the residents are saying, 'Look in your house to see how you are spending our money.'"
Councilman Jeff Fix said the potential savings by outsourcing to RITA were estimates and it was a mistake for Sauer to present the numbers as "skewed" facts.
Fix said that originally he looked favorably on RITA's use of the IRS database to collect unpaid taxes, however "I have swayed in the past year" due to the public's support for Pickerington's tax department.
"The tax department in half an hour had one resident squared away and he said to me, 'I really appreciated that,'" Fix said. "'I really appreciated that' - you don't here that (often)."
In regards to increased collection of back taxes, Fix lauded the efforts of Mayor Mitch O'Brien and his administration who, by aggressively pursuing delinquent taxpayers, have collected $200,000 this year.
"This administration has done an outstanding job, but why did it take this long? (Why in the past didn't) we stay on top of it?" Sauer said. "My concern is what happens during the next administration?"
Council first considered using RITA last fall after the company provided a presentation.
The council tabled the motion in December after hearing conflicting reports from other municipalities regarding cost savings and customer service.
Eventually, the council dropped the proposed ordinance altogether.
"We have talked RITA to death," councilwoman Tricia Sanders said. "The (software) is a good compromise - it bring us up to speed (while keeping) face-to-face customer service."
In other business, council agreed to spend $250,000 to continue Town Square Drive from Hill Road to Center Street along the railroad track behind the Creamery.
Ten years ago the city began Town Square Drive to create a $7-million alternative route through downtown Pickerington and to create access for potential development, but funding ran low, City Manager Tim Hansley said.
Currently, the city hired a contractor to work on a sewer line that follows the track in roughly the same location as the planned road.
The contractor told City Engineer Greg Bachman that because they were already working in the area, they could finish Town Square Drive to Center Street for $125,000.
To prevent drivers from continuing from the new road onto Church Street, the city will block access to Church Street from Center Street by creating a grassy cul-de-sac through which emergency vehicles could enter and within which garbage trucks could maneuver, Bachman said.
Kim Hoffman, speaking on behalf of the residents of Church Street, said, "Everyone was pretty happy about (the cul-de-sac). What Greg showed us was pretty nice."
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