LOVELAND, OHIO - If found guilty, Loveland City Manager, Tom Carroll could be imprisoned, pay fines, and lose his job.
Section 183.10 of the Loveland Code of Ordinances says in part, "Any information gained as the result of filing any tax returns or any investigations, hearings or verifications required or authorized by this chapter shall be confidential, except for official purposes and except in accordance with proper judicial order." The code further says, " No employee of the Finance Department shall disclose to the general public or to any other Municipal Department data concerning individual earnings…"
The complaint arose during a February 8 meeting of the City's ad hoc Citizen Tax Review Panel. The panel was formed to study and make recommendations on changes in how the City administers its Income Tax Code. Former Mayor Brad Greenberg appointed the committee last November when national news headlines broke after residents were charged with criminal offenses for owing miniscule amounts of back taxes.
In a recent court settlement in two of the tax cases the City agreed to review any concerns the defendants or their attorneys have about the City of Loveland income tax code. Attorney, Chris Finney who represented the individuals said he told the Panel that one of the changes the City should make is do something about the City Manager releasing personal tax information to the public. Two citizens, also at the meeting, said that the allegation must be investigated. Loveland Chief of Police, Dennis Rees agreed to initiate an investigation, which was initially turned over to Loveland Detective Hugh Bomske. When asked if he was doing the investigation, Bomske said, "No, I'm not doing the investigating. I'm the liaison, and the case has been referred to the Clermont County Prosecutor." Bomske was asked the question again, "But, you haven't done any investigating?" Bomske said, "Correct. I've gathered some information. I've passed it on to the Prosecutor and obviously I'm not to do the investigation - for obvious reasons."
However, one person told Loveland Magazine that they were contacted by Bomske who said he wanted them to come to the Loveland Police station to talk. That person said, "No." The person then agreed to provide information to Bomske via e-mail. Bomske said the Clermont County Prosecutor asked him to call and question the person about the complaint against Carroll.
The Loveland Code says, "Any person divulging such information shall on conviction thereof, be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall be subject to a fine or penalty of not more than $500.00 or imprisoned for not more than six months, or both. Each disclosure shall constitute a separate offense. In addition to the above penalties, any City employee who violates the provisions of this section relative to disclosures of confidential information shall be immediately dismissed from the service of the City."
Bill Taphorn is the City Finance Director. Taphorn said he thought the case was being turned over to the county prosecutor because, "How do you investigate your boss?" Taphorn said he has not been contacted by anyone concerning the investigation
Taphorn also said it was his understanding that the information in the press release issued by Carroll, "was generated as a result of the court case and other information that was otherwise available in the public arena - so they didn't divulge anything that wasn't already out there."
Attorney Finney said that this is not true. He said that none of the information Carroll released was in any of the court papers he filed and the City could not legally release the information as part of bringing the charges against his client. He said the City released all of his client's confidential information on the web, "Illegally."
"It is utterly untrue. My client had no public record before it was put on the City web site. They totally exposed her tax records."
Finney said the press release was taken off of the City web site after the charges were brought up during the Tax Review Panel hearing. He said, the City seemed to be taking the complaint seriously at least initially, "But, Loveland has a way of making their problems go away and disappear."
Taphorn said he believes Carroll has hired an attorney.
Taphorn also said that he was not personally involved in issuing the press release. When asked if he knew how Carroll got the information, he said it was his understanding that former Mayor Greenberg, "wanted something on the City web site to refute or counter" what Chris Finney was saying about the charges brought against his clients."
Taphorn said, "Tom and Kim got together and put the information together and then talked to the Solicitor." Kim Vollet is the City Tax Administrator and is hired by the City Manager, but reports to Bill Taphorn.
Kim Vollet was not available for an interview.
Carroll had been serving as the Interim City Manager since November 1, 2005. He was appointed interim City Manager after then-City Manager Fred Enderle resigned to take the City Manager position in Piqua, Ohio. Carroll was promoted to the City Manager position at the February 14, 2006 City Council meeting.
Neither Carroll nor the Prosecutor's office returned phone calls seeking comment.
Read Loveland Tax Code about prohibition of the release of personal tax information. Download section_183.10.html
Read the press release (Loveland Magazine has redacted the personal information contained in the release.) Download press_release.pdf