MANSFIELD, Ohio -- Mansfield City Council members were encouraged to take youth's concerns about taxing minors into consideration before making their final decision on whether children under the age of 18 will have to begin paying municipal income taxes in 2016.
During council's regular meeting Tuesday, Deborah Mount, 26, stated her concerns about taxing everyone, regardless of age.
"If babies do have to file [a tax return], who will sign the tax form for them, or how are they supposed to write their own signature," she asked. "Who is responsible if the young children do not file the tax return or if a mistake is made? Does the child go to jail, or do the parents go to jail?"
She said she doesn't have an issue with taxing children who earn enough to have to file federal taxes, except for the fact that they don't get the opportunity to vote on the taxes, "so they're being forced to pay taxes that they don't get a say on," she said.
She urged council members to contact youth and listen to any concerns they may have with this issue, noting, "If they're going to be taxed, they should have a right to be heard."
Gabriel Mount, 15, also addressed council saying that taxing young workers may discourage children from wanting to work.
"I also think if people are going to tax kids they should be allowed to vote on the taxes," he said.
Currently, those younger than 18 who either own their own business or work for an employer aren’t taxed on any of their earnings.
Council has the authority to change that.
As required by state law, council must adopt an ordinance that is in line with Ohio Revised Code Chapter 718 before the end of the year. The Ohio Municipal League has come up with a draft ordinance that outlines the steps each municipality must take to be in line with the new state code. Included in the draft ordinance are different "options," which includes the option of taxing minors. Mansfield council could choose to tax minors fully, in part, or not at all.
Fourth Ward Councilman Butch Jefferson said, "Right now, as far as I know, I'm the only one that wants to tax children."
Finance Director Linn Steward said Monday that the finance committee is likely to have another meeting before the ordinance will be presented during Mansfield city caucus in October. She said hopefully the ordinance will be passed in November before it must be enacted by Jan. 1 of 2016.
Mansfield Choice Academies
Council approved legislation authorizing the safety service director to enter into a lease with Mansfield Choice Academies, a charter school, for the use of certain portions of the city-owned building Ocie Hill Neighborhood Center, located at 445 Bowman St.
"This is very, very beneficial for the city and the school," said Third Ward Councilman Jon Van Harlingen.
Councilman At-Large Don Bryant said he recognizes that this is beneficial but noted his concerns about the school's rating.
"I just want to say that my vote yes does not mean that I support the academic performance of Mansfield Choice Academies," he said.
Council approved purchasing three new plow trucks for the street department. John Yoha with the Mansfield Service Complex said, "Of the 11 large trucks that we use for snow removal in the winter, six of these trucks are year 2000 or older. In the past four years, we've had probably 250 work orders on these vehicles for numerous repairs."
He said the new trucks have what's called a "pre-wet system."
"It has been found that this pre-wet system has a plumbing system inside the salt spreader in the back of the truck. They have auxiliary tanks that pre-wet the salt. They're telling us that we can reduce our salt usage up to 25 percent, which is a huge savings for us with the cost of what salt's raised to over the past several years," he said.
He said the trucks could be used for other purposes in all four seasons.
He said they bought two new plows last year, adding, "so those plows would be able to be mounted on these new trucks, which will save us $13,000."
Council approved the demolition of 103 Willis Avenue and 305 Prescott St.