It’s such a cozy neighborhood, we love our little town. Lately, things ain’t been so good. There’s something going down.

– Robert Earl Keen, “Mr. Wolf and Mama Bear”

Ohio Tax Commissioner Joe Testa and Policy Matters Ohio Research Director Zach Schiller have had a little tête-à-tête (i.e. mano a mano or head-to-head) this week on our most popular website. Thus far, it’s a three-part series online at in the Opinion section.

It’s also spilled over to this week’s Hillsboro City Council meeting. More on that in a moment or three.

Commissioner Testa is currently down, 2-1, after three rounds and no serious falls.

Testa wrote to The HCP this week in order to “correct some misinformation conveyed by Policy Matters about Governor John Kasich’s (R) plan to centralize and streamline the municipal income tax on business income. That column echoes a campaign of misinformation being waged by municipalities {including the city of Hillsboro’s largely Republican political administration} across Ohio working to defeat a proposal the governor made that will advance the best interests of all Ohio, including cities and villages.

“The goal is to remedy a big problem for Ohio businesses that are required to file tax returns in every city where they earn income. Some of us complain about having to file one municipal (or state or federal) income tax return. Imagine having to file 50, or 100s of returns with different municipalities, all having their own tax rates, rules and filing requirements. That is the compliance nightmare that businesses face in Ohio. Many report that it costs them more to file all those returns than the amount of tax they owe.”

“There is no valid reason for municipalities to cling to their obsolete and counterproductive tax system. Ohio must continue improving its economic environment to compete for new businesses and jobs,” Commissioner Testa said.

Policy Matters Ohio Research Director Schiller (who has taken his share of local GOP criticism) responds: "Mr. Testa claims that ‘cities pay from two to five times higher costs than having the state collect and process the tax.’ Some cities do. But as our column noted, others don’t. That includes Columbus, which spends just a fraction over the 1 percent the state would charge; Cincinnati, which spends less than that; and average cost of the Regional Income Tax Agency, which collects for 270 Ohio cities and villages.

“These three entities alone collect over a third of the business profits tax statewide, but don’t spend as much as Mr. Testa claims. This means that the savings he claims ‘could be exaggerated,’ as our column stated. If the administration proposal is such a windfall for cities, why have so many municipal officials gone to Columbus to testify against it?”

Well, Director Schiller, the first thought that comes to mind is this: It’s all about whose ox is getting gored.

What’s most comical about all of this is the politics at play. Many of those municipal officials complaining like to present themselves as conservative Republicans. (Terms like “conservative Republican” and “liberal Democrat” are funnier than any wannabe comedian trying to fill the piano room at Howard Johnson’s. The fact is they all feed at the same taxpayer-fed trough. Digression noted.)

Commissioner Testa adds: “The governor’s proposal would have businesses file just one form in one place and be subject to one consistent set of rules regardless of how many cities in which they do business. The Department of Taxation would process the tax and send all payments on a quarterly schedule, plus interest, back to the respective city or village, minus a 1-percent administration fee.”

From a non-municipal-government perspective, I would think that conservatives would appreciate the Republican governor’s tack on taxes. Yet, many of those in office who have long courted conservative votes – right along with Kasich and his General Assembly minions – disagree for what appear to be personal reasons. (See gored ox, above.)

In fact, this week Hillsboro City Council – with its Republican majority – voted 6-0 to suspend the three-reading rule and to approve a resolution introduced by the comedian mayor to strongly oppose Kasich’s proposed 2017-18 budget, which proposes a centralized collection of net profit tax returns.

Council president Lee Koogler said that he is certainly opposed to the proposal in Kasich’s budget, as did other Republicans. The mayor said that “local communities are best able to allocate their funds to handle the collection and disbursement of funds.”

Now, here’s where the real humor enters into it. I’ve heard a number of local Republicans privately criticize the Ohio governor, the House talker and other prominent Rs, but rarely – if ever – on the record.

The last time Kasich was in town, he filled a roomful of local supporters. If he showed up tomorrow at Repubabub-HQ, he’d pack the former Marathon gas station at the corner of Main and West and there’d be photo-GOPs-galore.

Of course, I could be wrong. I’m good at being wrong, after all. John Levo recently explained all that.

Kasich had his presidential aspirations shoved up his well, aspirations, last year. So maybe the locals are allowed a little in-party dissension for once. Even though they still give occasional standing ovations to idiots. I wonder if Ohio Republican Rep. Wes Retherford got one of those at a well-attended recent Lincoln night dinner prior to his early morning arrest at a McDonald’s drive-through? Who knows…

And then there was this priceless (er, costly) kingly gem that the mayor again asked Hillsboro City Council to look into the implementation of “citywide trash collection.”

Maybe I’m wrong (as I said, I’m good at being wrong – just ask anyone), but I thought that Highland County Common Pleas Court has established that there’s already a free trash disposal service in Hillsboro.

Maybe this proposed administrative edict just might fall into the category of “Be careful what you wish for.”

If the city of Hillsboro does, indeed, add the collection of business and residential trash collection to a “citywide service,” it’s quite possible that there would be city records recorded therewith and available for all to see who pays for trash collection – and more importantly, who does not. Bring it on.

Naturally, there are considerations where certain large trash haulers could be contributors to certain campaign coffers. It can become a cozy relationship. But that’s OK. As long as the harsh reality of competition applies across the board.

You cannot admonish an overreaching arm of state government on the one hand, while at the same time thumbing for your own free ride. (I thought that was from the liberals’ playbook.)

As one of our readers said today, “Hillsboro has quite a few independent trash collectors who do an excellent job and have a good rapport with their customers. These people are dependable, local taxpayers. Now the mayor wants to implement a citywide trash collection. By all means, let’s put more of our own hard-working residents out of work. I urge everyone to call your city council member to tell them to resist this newest assault on our own citizens. We are allowing this to happen because we don't tell our council member how we feel about this and many other issues.”

As much as I’d like to agree, I’d find it even more amusing to see a city trash collection service and the public records that would accompany it. That would be funnier than Ho-Jo’s on amateur night.

Rory Ryan is publisher and owner of The Highland County Press.