COLUMBIANA COUNTY Vote accordingly on tax, state officials urge voters

The county treasurer said she needs more money to pay staff and mail property tax bills.
LISBON -- Leaders of a statewide governmental organization stopped short of endorsing Columbiana County's proposed 0.5-percent sales tax increase.
But they stressed the need for voters to ask themselves whether they want basic government services and to act accordingly at the polls.
Robert Boggs, president of the County Commissioner Association of Ohio, and Larry Long, the association's executive director, addressed county commissioners during their meeting Wednesday.
Bleak outlook
The men, invited by county commissioners, noted that with the economy struggling and the state undergoing a fiscal crisis, counties throughout the state face a bleak fiscal outlook.
State funding for local programs is dropping, the men noted.
Commissioners placed the 0.5-percent sales tax increase on the May 7 primary because they say the county needs additional revenue to make it through the year.
The tax increase would raise an additional $3 million annually.
Boggs praised county officials for being fiscally responsible.
"We've taken a look at their budget. They've done everything in making cuts," he said.
Boggs and Long said they don't want to tell voters what to do in the May 7 primary.
But Boggs indicated that approving the sales tax increase on the ballot may be the prudent choice.
"I don't know how they can provide all the things they need to provide without added revenue," he said.
Seeking more funds
In other matters, commissioners received a letter from county Treasurer Linda Bolon asking for an additional $38,302 for her department this year.
About $24,300 more is needed to pay employees and $14,000 is needed to pay postage to mail property tax bills that must go out in July.
The treasurer's office was allocated $153,263 as part of a bare-bones budget commissioners adopted several weeks ago. Most county offices' budget requests were pared to the point where widespread layoffs and office closings are expected as the year progresses.
Bolon said that without more money for salaries, her already-reduced staff will have to cut hours, leaving the treasurer's office open only three days per week.
Without money for postage to mail tax bills, property owners may be required to come to the courthouse later this year, find out what their bill is, and make payment at that time, Bolon said.
Commissioners took no action on her request.

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