Ostrander’s six-member village council passed an ordinance July 11 for a new one-percent income tax that will take effect in January 2017.
The money will be used to fund a police department.
Aaron Stojkov, husband of Councilwoman Tracy Stojkov, said the first he had heard of the tax was in the newsletter.
“The first I was aware of this being discussed in Ostrander was from the newsletter,” he said. “Our council did this legally, but did the bare minimum they needed to do. You couldn’t find information on this anywhere after the newsletter and it was very, very unclear.
“There were no special announcements, no special meetings. I think they wanted to draw as little attention as possible. I think the vast majority didn’t know about this until they received a letter from the Regional Income Tax Agency (RITA),” he said.
Larry Crile, village mayor, said, council had started talking about the the income tax when they noticed trends changing in the village. Crile said there had been talk for years about an income tax, but finally got serious about it in the last 14 to 15 months.
“In the next 10 years with all the changes we’re going to start to look like Sunbury. But we didn’t want to go to the voters with a property tax,” Crile said. “We did our homework and research before we went ahead to implement this ordinance.”
Crile said in his research that he talked with mayors of villages similar to Ostrander. He said he also talked with the village attorneys and RITA.
“We got very serious in May and had an attorney write the ordinance,” Crile said.
Crile said before the council passed the ordinance allowing for the tax there were three public readings with discussions held over a three month period. He said the size of the crowds were approximately 20 people each time.
“I write the village newsletter,” Crile said. “I put the proposal for the ordinance in the May newsletter.”
Crile said the newsletter is published “every nine months” and sent out to the residents of the village. He also said the newsletters are published to the village website. “It was passed with 6 to 0 vote by the council,” he said.
Like other villages and municipalities in Ohio, officials are receiving less funding from the state.
“It’s great to brag that the State of Ohio can balance the budget, but things have been cut to the municipalities to make it work,” Crile said. “We can’t rely on the state to fund the village.”
Dorothy Wilcox, treasurer, said the village had discussed the tax all year in the council meetings and everybody seemed to be in favor of passing the ordinance.
“According to the Ohio Revised Code municipalities are able to pass an income tax up to 1 percent,” she said. “Notice of the ordinance was posted on bulletin boards and there was a 30-day referendum on the ordinance.”
Rebecca Wood said she has lived in Ostrander since 2003 and the first she had heard of the new tax was when she received a letter from RITA. She said she also remembers a flyer with the 4th of July news in it and everything else, but the information about the income tax was buried at the bottom.
“People in the village think they went about it the wrong way,” Wood said. “Six people made the decision for the entire community.”
US Census Bureau figures from 2010 show the village had a population of 643 residents.
Wood said usually the village applies for grants and other things to pay for things needed in the village. She said she called the mayor about the 1 percent tax passing and told him, “it doesn’t seem fair that six people can pass this tax.”
Wood said she asked if there was anything she could do, but said Crile told her it was too late and that “the horse is out of the barn.”
“I have 1,000 people in Ostrander and 10 who think they have been cheated,” Crile said.
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.