The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

April 17, 2014

Water repairs, tax refunds are eating up Conneaut’s cash

CONNEAUT — Financial aftershocks from the prolonged, brutal winter continue to be felt in Conneaut.

Bills continue to arrive for the many water line repair projects caused by excessive cold, city officials said. City Council this week approved the transfer of more money into the municipal water account to help pay for the material and manpower needed to plug line leaks that have sprouted past few months. The water fund has seen a $40,300 increase over expectations directly attributed to water line work.

“There’s been a tremendous amount of leaks,” Williams said this week. “It’s one of the worst years we’ve had. They’re all over the city.”

“I hope it tapers off with the return of normal weather,” he said.

Meanwhile, the city is also handing out income tax refunds at a brisk pace, thanks to a change in the local tax rate that apparently caught several employers by surprise. Conneaut’s municipal income tax dropped from 1.8 percent to 1.65 percent in 2013. The reduction took effect at the end of 2012, when a .15 percent tax for street improvements expired.

Many employers in and out of the city failed to catch the change, and consequently withheld too much income tax from workers’ paychecks. So far in 2014, the city has paid $52,000 in refunds to 566 taxpayers, Williams said. During the same period last year, 151 refunds totaling $32,000, he said.

More money could be paid out in the coming weeks as more refunds are requested, Williams said.

Refunds aren’t usual, and often occur when businesses estimate profits, only to see those estimates fall short. That hasn’t been the case lately, Williams said.

“Our companies have had pretty healthy profits,” he said.

The city tax office can alert local employers about changes to the local tax, but the task is much more difficult when out-of-town companies are involved. “If it’s a city employer, we have a little more control,” he said.


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