GIRARD - An attorney for the Regional Income Tax Agency - RITA - said they have filed 107 lawsuits on behalf of the city of Girard for more than $158,000 in back taxes, interest and penalties this year.
"As a service to its members, the agency offers a legal program to pursue unpaid municipal income tax and associated penalties and interest," RITA Chief Legal Counsel Amy Arrighi said in an email.
Arrighi said RITA has filed the 107 lawsuits from Jan. 1 through Aug. 10, representing $158,264.10 in taxes, interest and penalties due the city of Girard.
One local towing business, A&M Towing and Road Service of McDonald, represents $48,909.68 of that amount. That lawsuit was filed Aug. 8. The taxes in question are withholdings from employee paychecks when they work within Girard limits.
RITA also is handling all of Girard's receivables from the V&M Star pipe mill expansion project in Girard and Youngstown.
RITA handles income tax collection for 191 municipalities in Ohio, and Girard has been a member since January 2005. Mayor James Melfi said the decision to seek RITA's services was part of the city's strategy to become fiscally solvent and emerge from its financial emergency status, which Girard expects to accomplish by year's end.
"In its very first year, we collected about $400,000 more," Melfi said.
Treasurer John Moliterno said Girard is roughly a half million dollars ahead in income tax from 2010, not including revenues from V&M, which are kept separate.
"I'd like to think it's because I'm treasurer, but it's not," Moliterno said. "It's because RITA has done a very good job of monitoring ... and bringing in tax dollars we would not have had."
Moliterno said that since 2005, RITA has generated approximately $1.5 million to $2 million in tax revenues for the city.
Melfi said, "There have been many changes made to Girard city government over a decade to help us emerge from fiscal emergency," Melfi said. Many of those changes include personnel cuts and wage freezes, as well as aggressive pursuit of tax revenues due the city.
Moliterno said it was Melfi's recommendation for Girard to join RITA, an action he supported as a councilman.
"It was a very good decision," Moliterno said.