Ohio mayors to Congress on tax reform: ‘Get it right’

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Ohio mayors to Congress on tax reform: ‘Get it right’

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Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland, shown here last March, was among a group of a dozen mayors who went to Columbus Friday to send a message that the tax package being voted on in Congress endangers programs used to invigorate cities. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Mayors from Springfield, Kettering and 10 other Ohio cities went to Columbus Friday to send a message to Washington that the tax reform packages rushing through Congress will be a bad deal for homeowners and projects that rely on historic tax credits and private activity bonds.

“Tax reform is needed in order to help our economy, but we need to get it right,” said Findlay Mayor Lydia Mihalik, a member of the Ohio Mayors Alliance, a bipartisan group.

Mihalik said 1.5 million Ohio tax filers claimed the popular state and local taxes exemption — SALT — in 2013 and received $15.5 billion in tax relief in 2013. But Republicans in Congress are considering eliminating that exemption.

“I know that a lot of our residents who itemize will be in for a rude awakening next year if the state and local tax deduction is eliminated,” said Kettering Mayor Don Patterson. “There is too much at stake for too many people for this massive tax overhaul to be rushed through. I’d like to see Congress sit down and get it right.”

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said the proposed elimination of historic tax credits and the new markets tax credit and private activity bonds would hurt projects in cities big and small across the country.

“If these deductions and credits are eliminated, it will cost our residents more in taxes and hurt our ability to create jobs and strengthen our economy,” Ginther said. “We know that in the state of Ohio our cities are driving the economy of this state.”

Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland said historic tax credits are used to make renovation projects on old buildings financially feasible. He points to the conversion of the Bushnell Building in downtown Springfield into office space and a proposal to put apartments into the Wrens Building as examples of projects that rely on the historic tax credits. “We use it regularly,” he said.

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley blasted the tax reform packages as huge tax hikes for Americans.

“This bill is a huge tax hike for the American people and for our constituents,” said Cranley, a Democrat. “The average American taxpayer is going to pay more. We are being told that somehow this is a tax cut. It’s not. It’s a tax increase. You take away the local and state deduction, literally, that is more money out of your pocket for the federal government.”

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