At the Dec. 16 meeting, Pickerington Resident Carol Carter asked council members "did you do any research outside of the sales pitch" before deciding to outsource tax collections to the Regional Income Tax Authority (RITA)?
When Carter said she received little response other than "we had a presentation from RITA," she took matters into her own hands and began contacting other local governments and combing through RITA’s Web site.
Members of council had approved a first reading at its Dec. 1 meeting to hire RITA to save money for the cash-strapped city.
"It’s not going to save money," Carter said. "It is probably going to cost money."
Carter said that Marysville, a city comparable in size and growth rate as Pickerington, saved money by leaving RITA and adding more in-house staff.
RITA requires payment upfront for its services at a rate of 3 percent of the collected taxes.
"That’s a lot of money to ask," Carter said. "Surely you don’t pay the tax people here upfront."
In addition, the move to RITA would not save on payroll because the city would still need to retain its tax staff, Carter alleged.
Carter also asked the council who would be responsible for the court fees if a resident filed a lawsuit because RITA pursued the resident for taxes already paid.
"I have aggravated your tax department and they not only answered my questions, but they went above and beyond and were never rude to me," Carter said. "I have perfect respect for the tax department."
Carter also said that RITA works by the zip code, therefore Pickerington would pay for the tax processing of non-residents who live in Columbus or Violet Township because their zip code is 43147.
At the Dec. 16 meeting, councilman Michael Sabatino motioned to hold the second reading of the ordinance until he and his peers could read through the large packet of information that Carter provided to each of them.
"Her presentation demonstrated a lot of time and effort," Sabatino said. "We need to do our due diligence to study what information she obtained."
Councilman Brian Wisniewski, who has been the most outspoken opponent of RITA, said the extra research would not matter because the council members will not change their minds.
• At 6:30 p.m. Jan. 13, the council will hold a public meeting to discuss placing red light cameras at intersections along Hill Road. The council will vote on the ordinance later that evening.
• Councilwoman Cristie Hammond announced that although she did not have the official numbers, the food pantry had almost reached its goal of raising $10,000.
• Service Manager Ed Drobina said that FEMA would give the city $18,000 to pay for the clean-up from the Sept. 14 windstorm.
The city will likely receive additional federal money to pay for repairs to city buildings as well.