Fri., 10:04 pm: Judge says tax referendum goes on November ballot

WARREN — Newton Falls citizens — and not village council members — will decide whether to restore a 1 percent credit for residents paying income tax into other municipalities where they work, according to a judge’s decision today.

“The court finds allowing said measures to be challenged by the electors and placed on the ballot is exactly the type of democratic action on which our nation was founded — a government by the people and for the people,” according to a ruling by Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge Ronald Rice.

The village and Falls Law Director Joe Fritz have argued all along that restoring or repealing the tax credit is an administrative action, not legislative, and therefore not fair game for a referendum.

Village Clerk Kathy King testified that she did not forward Lange’s referendum petition to the Board of Elections to be put on the ballot in November since Fritz called it an administrative act by council. It was the same maneuver used the last time tax forgiveness was repealed to prevent a citizens referendum from getting on the ballot.

Rice’s decision points out that Newton Falls’ own charter allows for a referendum petition to challenge council’s actions whether administrative or legislative.

“This is a great day for local democracy and justice,” Lange said.

Fritz said he would have to review Rice’s decision and then discuss the matter with Village Manager Jack Haney before deciding whether to appeal the decision to the 11th District Court of Appeals.

Read the rest of the story in the Saturday Tribune Chronicle.