By Linda Dillman
Canal Winchester City Council will not conduct an invocation nor hold a regularly scheduled moment of reflection prior to the start of its regular council meetings.
Before the final vote to amend council rules during an Aug. 6 meeting, Councilman Mike Walker proposed a motion to replace reflective moment language with an invocation. The motion was rejected by a 4-3 margin.
Walker took similar action during a June 18 meeting when the ordinance was up for a first reading. The vote at that time ended in a tie and he later withdrew his motion.
Immediately following action on the Aug. 6 motion, council voted on the original reflective moment amendment proposed by the rules committee. The proposed ordinance was defeated by a 5-2 margin.
“We have heard from so many residents,” said Councilwoman Jill Amos prior to the vote. “Yes’s and no’s are just about equal. I see the power of prayer daily, it’s also a very personal thing for me.”
Councilman Patrick Lynch said the issue was given a lot of consideration. He said by not asking for an invocation, nothing was taken away and God is still mentioned in the pledge said at the beginning of every meeting.
“I stand behind the recommendation of the rules committee,” said Lynch.
During public comments prior to the vote, speakers offered support for an invocation and asked council to give the idea serious consideration.
The initial discussion started during a committee of the whole meeting when Walker proposed the idea to start meetings with an invocation, citing historical examples and those presently conducted at the federal and local levels.
The rules committee was tasked with investigating the idea and coming up with suggestions before bringing it back to the full council.
After much debate and deliberation on issues such as the logistics of coordinating an invocation/prayer and keeping language as non-denominational as possible, the committee proposed a rules change allowing for the moment of reflection in lieu of a prayer or invocation as previously requested by Walker.
Although Walker’s motion and the policy change in the ordinance were both turned down, the issue could return sometime in the future.
Income tax collection changes
Due to a decision by the city of Columbus to cease third party tax collection services for other municipalities, the city of Canal Winchester is engaging the services of the Regional Income Tax Agency to administer city tax laws and collect taxes.
The service is similar in scope and cost to the contract Canal Winchester previously conducted with Columbus.
“I received notification the city of Columbus will no longer collect and administer income tax for third party services,” said Finance Director Amanda Jackson. “It’s not something we were expecting. We don’t have the space or staff to administer in-house. I felt RITA was the best fit for Canal Winchester.”
Jackson said the decision needed to be made quickly because the authority needs “every bit of the next five months” to make the conversion, which is at no cost to the city.