City honors hometown heroes


Corporal Austin Cox, first responders recognized

By Sam Wildow - swildow@aimmediamidwest.com



City joins litigation against the state

Also during the Piqua City Commission meeting Tuesday evening, the commission approved joining in litigation against the state in opposition to substitute House Bill 49, challenging the state’s centralization of income tax collection.

The commission went into executive session to discuss this litigation before voting on it.

“This litigation seeks to challenge the bill as unconstitutional,” City Attorney Stacy Wall said. “Several things the bill does is that it dictates that a city has to adopt certain ordinance language, and if does not do that by Jan. 31, it takes away the income taxing authority of the city.”

Wall added that the bill allows taxpayers to choose between going to centralized filing or completing it locally, to which Wall said, “The individual taxpayer is not normally educated in knowing which path to take in that regards.”

The bill also charges the city 0.5 percent of the municipal revenue as an administrative cost to administer centralized income tax collection. The state can also penalize cities.

“If the state makes a request to the city for history of a taxpayer and the city does not provide that, the city is charged a 50 percent penalty of collected net profit revenue,” Wall said. “Then all audits and refunds are by the state only, and the city has no involvement or say into the kind of audit.”

The city is arguing that it is taking away their “home rule authority” to administer income taxes locally and it is also taking from their net revenue.

A lawsuit was filed in Franklin County last week. The city is joining approximately 130 municipalities in litigation against the state, including cities like Columbus, Cincinnati, and Cleveland.

Commissioner Joe Wilson responded to the point of view that this house bill is “business-friendly” legislation.

“This is supposed to be a business-friendly item to help businesses when they file, but in reality, they have the opportunity to file with the state already without this bill,” Wilson said, referencing the Ohio Business Gateway. “When you take that away it becomes a money grab from the state.” Wilson added later, “It doesn’t add anything that doesn’t already exist, it just takes our money for that privilege.”

The commission approved the city’s share of the retainer of Frost Brown Todd, LLC would be $4,000 to join the litigation.

Commissioner Bill Vogt was absent Tuesday evening.

PIQUA — It was a feel good evening at the Piqua City Commission meeting Tuesday evening as Mayor Kazy Hinds issued proclamations honoring the sacrifices of a native Marine and local first responders who responded with helping hands during times of tragedy and devastation.

Hinds designated Tuesday, Nov. 21, of this year as Cpl. Austin Cox Day for Cox’s actions during the mass shooting on Oct. 1 in Las Vegas, where he helped save the life of Katrina Hannah.

“Piqua High School graduate Cpl. Austin Cox was in attendance at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival along with thousands of country music goers in what was supposed to be a fun and entertaining concert,” Hinds said. After gunfire broke out, Hinds described how Cox “did just what Marines do, he ran towards the gunfire in hopes of helping people.”

Hinds went on to say, “as Corporal Cox began running, he noticed Katrina Hannah lying on the ground in critical condition from gunshot wounds … while trying to protect Katrina, as she was bleeding badly, he knew she needed medical assistance immediately, so he picked her up and ran to find cover.”

Cox was able to find transportation in order to get Hannah to a hospital for medical attention.

“Corporal Cox stayed by Katrina’s side throughout the night at the hospital, keeping vigil with Katrina’s mother until he knew she would survive,” Hinds said.

Hinds later added, “He will always be our hometown hero in the city of Piqua.”

Cox was unable to attend the commission meeting Tuesday evening, but many of his family members were in attendance. During the meeting, his aunt, Angie Smith, briefly spoke on Cox’s behalf, saying, “He says thank you to the whole city of Piqua for this recognition. No matter where he is in the world, Piqua will always be his home. Although he doesn’t feel like a hero, he was just doing what he had hoped anyone would do in this tragic time.”

Afterward, his father, Andy Cox, shared how he was “as proud of him (Austin) in every way possible.”

“I’m really so happy,” Andy Cox said, adding that his son always had a strong will and “always thought of others before himself.”

First responders thanked for hurricane relief actions

Hinds also issued a proclamation of gratitude honoring the city’s first responders, particularly Capt. Kevin Ganger of the Piqua Fire Department and linemen Kevin Grinstead, Justin Foutz, Dan Cline, and Don Nash of the Piqua Power System, who responded to Texas and Florida after hurricanes Harvey and Irma this year.

“Service to others is a hallmark of American character,” Hinds said, later adding, “These public servants voluntarily leave their positions in Piqua, as well as their families, to serve other communities that have been hit hard by disasters … it is the City of Piqua’s employees/first responders who are deserving of special recognition and appreciation for all they do for other communities hit hard by these disasters.”

Hinds went on to say, ”It is important to fully recognize the scale and scope of these particular disasters because it truly demonstrates the skill, expertise, and professionalism that is required from our employees as they enter communities hit hard with floods, power outages, as well as a multitude of other needs including the saving of lives.”

Ashcraft spoke on behalf of Ganger, who responded to the relief effort in Texas during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey as part of Ohio Task Force 1.

“It is hard to describe the hardships that are faced when you go into a community that is literally devastated by hurricane activity,” Assistant Chief Vince Ashcraft of the Piqua Fire Department said. “The loss of just things that we just take for granted: a dry place to sleep, a warm place to sleep.”

Bob Bowman, assistant director of the Piqua Power System, spoke on behalf of the four linemen from the Piqua Power System, describing how Grinstead, Foutz, Cline, and Nash all volunteered to respond to cities in Florida asking for aid because of Hurrican Irma in September.

“These four gentlemen jumped at the chance to go down to help someone,” Bowman said.

Bowman described how they left before the hurricane hit and were in Florida for approximately three weeks, working 16-hour days every day.

“It was 20 days they were gone from their families,” Bowman said. “It was a tremendous sacrifice. You’ve got very talented linemen when it comes that way.”

Bowman said that the city of Homestead, Florida was releasing volunteer linemen from other cities after two weeks of efforts, but they requested for these Piqua linemen to stay a week longer to continue to help because of their work ethic and abilities as linemen. Bowman added that made him “extremely proud” of his linemen.

“I’m very proud of what they’ve done and the sacrifice they made,” Bowman said.

Corporal Austin Cox, first responders recognized

By Sam Wildow

swildow@aimmediamidwest.com

City joins litigation against the state

Also during the Piqua City Commission meeting Tuesday evening, the commission approved joining in litigation against the state in opposition to substitute House Bill 49, challenging the state’s centralization of income tax collection.

The commission went into executive session to discuss this litigation before voting on it.

“This litigation seeks to challenge the bill as unconstitutional,” City Attorney Stacy Wall said. “Several things the bill does is that it dictates that a city has to adopt certain ordinance language, and if does not do that by Jan. 31, it takes away the income taxing authority of the city.”

Wall added that the bill allows taxpayers to choose between going to centralized filing or completing it locally, to which Wall said, “The individual taxpayer is not normally educated in knowing which path to take in that regards.”

The bill also charges the city 0.5 percent of the municipal revenue as an administrative cost to administer centralized income tax collection. The state can also penalize cities.

“If the state makes a request to the city for history of a taxpayer and the city does not provide that, the city is charged a 50 percent penalty of collected net profit revenue,” Wall said. “Then all audits and refunds are by the state only, and the city has no involvement or say into the kind of audit.”

The city is arguing that it is taking away their “home rule authority” to administer income taxes locally and it is also taking from their net revenue.

A lawsuit was filed in Franklin County last week. The city is joining approximately 130 municipalities in litigation against the state, including cities like Columbus, Cincinnati, and Cleveland.

Commissioner Joe Wilson responded to the point of view that this house bill is “business-friendly” legislation.

“This is supposed to be a business-friendly item to help businesses when they file, but in reality, they have the opportunity to file with the state already without this bill,” Wilson said, referencing the Ohio Business Gateway. “When you take that away it becomes a money grab from the state.” Wilson added later, “It doesn’t add anything that doesn’t already exist, it just takes our money for that privilege.”

The commission approved the city’s share of the retainer of Frost Brown Todd, LLC would be $4,000 to join the litigation.

Commissioner Bill Vogt was absent Tuesday evening.

Reach Sam Wildow at swildow@aimmediamidwest.com or (937) 451-3336

Reach Sam Wildow at swildow@aimmediamidwest.com or (937) 451-3336