It's no secret that income taxes represent the city's largest revenue source.
Since the elimination of the estate tax last year and local government fund reductions, the importance of income taxes to the city's bottom line has only increased.
With tax season upon us, and the April 15 filing deadline rapidly approaching, the Finance and Administrative Services Department relies greatly on assistance from the Regional Income Tax Authority (RITA) to administer the income taxes owed to Upper Arlington by UA workers and residents.
UA has been using RITA's services since 1988. The largest organization of its kind in Ohio, RITA is a council of governments that provides income tax collection services for more than 200 cities in Ohio, including 12 municipalities in central Ohio.
RITA is an example of a longstanding shared service that has been saving UA and other communities a great deal of money and resources over the years. Due to its size and structure, the services provided are comprehensive and efficient, and by participating in this shared centralized service, the city realizes a lower cost for processing payments and income tax returns -- typically, less than 2 percent of the actual income tax revenue collected.
If the city were to perform these same tasks, we would need additional staff that would include clerks to process payments and input the data from all the filed tax returns, and audit staff to review returns for accuracy. Likewise, we would need additional workspace for this function and we would need to continue to invest in hardware and software for income tax processing and the storage of returns.
It's clear that these costs would add up very quickly.
I can't think of too many people who enjoy paying taxes from their hard-earned income, so when a hiccup occurs at filing time, none of us are likely to be in a good frame of mind if we have to work with RITA or any other taxing agency to resolve the issue. So while the size and structure of RITA may not result in the personal touch you are used to when you work directly with city staff on other issues, it's important to remember that we use this service in the interests of efficiency.
It's a new year, with a new list of construction projects ahead for UA. Among the first out of the gate are two Columbia Gas main pipeline replacement projects, scheduled to begin this month:
• Edgemont and Devon AMRP -- the area bounded by Cambridge Boulevard, Guilford Road, Arlington Avenue and Stanford Road (phase I); and the area bounded by Arlington Avenue, Waltham Road, Andover Road and Stanford Road (phase II).
• Westmont and Northam AMRP -- the area north of Lane Avenue, west of North Star Road, south of Northam Road and east of Brandon Road.
Columbia Gas is hosting a public meeting to run through what to expect and to address any questions or concerns residents may have. The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, April 14, at the Tremont Library Theatre, 2800 Tremont Road.
For both projects the work will involve replacing existing steel pipelines with new plastic lines. For many households on the affected streets, the work will mean running new service lines up to homes and the relocation of interior gas meters to the outside. At each stage in the process, Columbia Gas representatives will contact residents in advance -- to locate any sprinkler systems or invisible fences before work begins, to determine the best location for the new meter and in advance of making the service transfer.
Theodore J. Staton is Upper Arlington's city manager.