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House passes delinquent tax newspaper bill

The Ohio House unanimously approved a bill that would no longer require county auditors to publish a second list of people who are delinquent in their taxes in newspapers.

The initial list would still have to be published in a newspaper, but the bill, approved Wednesday by the House, would allow county auditors to make the second list available online.

The bill still has to be considered by the state Senate and signed by Gov. Mike DeWine.

Similar attempts to change this law have failed in the past.

Monica Nieporte, president and executive director of the Ohio News Media Association, testified at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on May 4 that “such a move would create problems for Ohio taxpayers” because “by placing these notices in a newspaper we provide a credible and impartial record to taxpayers. Further, this guarantees due process and avoids creating a conflict of interest for governmental” entities.

State Rep. Michael J. O’Brien, D-Warren, who voted in favor of the bill, said Wednesday this only gives county auditors the option to publish the second list online and is not a mandate.

A former Trumbull County commissioner, O’Brien said: “Those lists were published on Sunday. And the following Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, the county office would be busy with people shamed into paying their property taxes because their name was in the paper.”

There were a lot of people paying their late taxes after the first list was published, he said but not as many the second time.

“County auditors might see a big dropoff by not publishing it in the newspaper a second time and then re-evaluate,” O’Brien said.

Jon Honeck, senior policy analyst for the County Commissioners Association of Ohio, testified May 4 in front of the House committee that the change would give “counties greater flexibility to utilize a means of communication more suitable for the current digital era in which the public is used to finding information online. This change allows counties to save public resources, particularly when they must provide notice for large numbers of delinquent properties.”

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