State auditor sides with Findlay in dispute over taxpayer names

From The Courier Findlay officials may keep secret the names of more than three dozen businesses or taxpayers allowed to defer payments or make installment payments on city income taxes, state Auditor Dave Yost said Tuesday.

Yost, acting on The Courier’s request for a special “sunshine audit” of the practice by city Tax Administrator Andrew Thomas, said there is “insufficient evidence to support a finding of non-compliance against the city … with respect to Ohio’s public records laws.”

The newspaper, citing “the public interest” in a Freedom of Information Act filing with the city on June 8, requested the names of businesses and individuals paying taxes under a deferral or installment plan. The newspaper did not seek the amounts involved.

The city denied the requests then and later, citing the privacy of income tax returns under state law and city ordinance.

The Courier and city officials tried and failed to resolve their differences informally on Oct. 6, and the newspaper filed for Yost’s special public-records audit a week later, according to Editor Peter Mattiace.

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