Delaware County Board of Elections expected to revisit challenge to Powell income-tax issue

Jim Fischer
ThisWeek

Questions remain regarding the fate of the city of Powell’s income-tax ballot issue after a March 11 special meeting of the Delaware County Board of Elections.

The meeting addressed a challenge filed with the board regarding the issue.

The challenge, signed by Jan S. Simonis of Industrial Affairs, states, “I do not believe that due process was followed to correctly place this issue on the ballot. Therefore, I respectfully challenge the placement onto the ballot and request that this issue be revisited in a formal hearing.”

Powell Municipal Building

During the meeting, Yaz Ashwari, legal counsel for Powell, questioned the appropriateness of such a hearing that could affect the placement of the issue on the ballot.

Ashwari said although city recognizes the board’s role as a public body to hear grievances, a municipal tax matter is not among the kinds of issues the board is authorized by state law to hear for the purposes of determining whether it should be placed or removed from the ballot. He also said Simonis did not specify the nature of the due-process challenge, meaning the city is unable to properly address the question.

Ashwari also said the board already has certified the income-tax issue and approved the ballot language for the May 4 election.

According to members of the elections board, Simonis was unavailable to participate in the March 11 meeting due to a death in the family.

Board chair Ed Helvey suggested the board request additional information from Simonis regarding the complaint, as well as any documentation from the city supporting its positions, and make a decision at its next regular meeting at 9 a.m. Wednesday, March 17, on whether to hold a formal hearing on the challenge.

City Council approved the resolution to place the issue on the ballot Jan. 19.

The measure would raise the city’s income tax from 0.75% to 2% and increase the credit for taxes paid in another municipality from 25% to 100%.

If approved by voters, the tax would begin being collected Jan. 1, 2022. The issue is estimated to generate $3.4 million annually in revenue for the city.

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