Marietta joining class action suit against Ohio

MARIETTA — Marietta City Council passed legislations Thursday authorizing the city to join a class-action lawsuit against the state Legislature and Ohio Gov. John Kasich for allegedly violating both home rule and the single subject rule in the passage of House Bills 5 and 49.

The two bills passed by the state in the last two years contain broad and sweeping changes to Ohio’s municipal income tax, the main source of income for many municipalities including Marietta.

“This ordinance will make us a part of the coalition of other governmental entities around the state that are challenging the constitutionality of these bills,” explained Councilman Tom Vukovic, D-4th ward. “We have an income tax department here that does an outstanding job and the state is trying to usurp that authority from us.”

Treasurer Cathy Harper was also present Thursday to explain that the expansion of the Ohio Business Gateway as outlined in the state legislation would hinder local business creation.

“This piece of legislation tonight is so important because the state is already trying to make their pitch to local businesses for the Ohio Business Gateway,” she said.

Vukovic said the cost to join the coalition for the city is $4,000, small in comparison to the loss he said would come if the state is able to enforce the two bills and remove revenue from the city.

“It will affect the services we support with those funds,” he said. “Mainly our police and fire.”

The legislation joining the coalition passed unanimously Thursday.

Three other pieces of legislation were introduced Thursday including the first reading of an ordinance to allow medical marijuana businesses to set up shop within city limits.

That ordinance will see two further readings next week at special council meetings scheduled for 5 p.m. both on Tuesday and Thursday nights.

Council also heard the first reading of articles pertaining to the name change of Lookout Park, the proposed new name is Gold Star Park in honor of a monument the Sgt. Bob O’Malley Detachment #1436 of the Marine Corps League is raising funds for at the park. The legislation will have two further readings to give the public time to comment.

Also introduced was a new chapter of the city’s codified ordinances, this one pertaining to a new “Comprehensive Right of Way Ordinance.”

Further discussion surrounding right of way and cell towers will be held Nov. 1 at 4:15.