Athens City Council met in committee Monday to discuss creating a resolution opposing House Bill 157, which is currently moving through the Ohio legislature.

The goal of the bill is to modify municipal income tax employer withholding rules for employees that are working from home as a result of COVID-19. Currently, individuals working from home are still considered to be working at their regular place of employment, which affects how much of the employer’s income is subject to a municipality’s income tax.

Athens City Auditor Kathy Hecht informed Council that this change would be retroactive to January 2020, meaning that those who began working from home last March would have to be issued refunds.

Councilmember Chris Fahl, D-4th ward, expressed concern over the amount of money that Athens could lose if this bill is passed.

“It also sounds sneakingly like they would want to make this particular thing permanent forever, which would decimate our ability to have income taxes and that is a majority of our funding ... this could be potentially catastrophic,” Fahl said.

Council also discussed filling vacant positions within the city. These positions include a code inspector, two custodians, an Engineering and Public Works project assistant, a maintenance technician and a water treatment plant manager. 

“These are critical positions, we’ve been extremely frugal with individuals who have left the city or have retired in not filling those (positions) but at this point in time, we do need to start filling some of these,” Athens Mayor Steve Patterson said.

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