MAHONING CO. Hearings to cover sales tax

Hearings will be in Poland Township, Campbell, Youngstown and Sebring.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Mahoning County residents will get a chance to speak their mind about a proposal to impose a permanent county sales tax.
Actually, they'll get four chances.
County commissioners have scheduled four public hearings in September. Hearings will be in Poland Township, Campbell, Youngstown and Sebring.
County Administrator Gary Kubic said three of the four hearings will be in the evening so they'll be accessible to more people. Commissioners spread the meetings all over the county to make them more convenient.
Commissioners want to hear what people think about a recent proposal from business and labor leaders who wanted the board to impose a permanent 0.5 percent sales tax. They also wanted it imposed permanently, not for just five years.
The proposal was given to commissioners just a week before the Aug. 22 deadline for placing issues on the ballot for the Nov. 5 general election. That did not give commissioners enough time to gather public input, Kubic said.
"We couldn't properly give people time to speak about that proposal then, so we're doing to do it now," he said.
Ohio law requires that commissioners hold at least two public hearings on such a proposal before voting on it. Commissioners had held public hearings, but they were based on the tax's being put to voters for a five-year renewal.
Commissioners voted to put the tax on the ballot for renewal. The tax, which brings in some $12 million a year for operating expenses, expires at the end of this year.
Commissioners also voted the same day to advertise the public hearings, but Kubic said that doesn't mean they intend to follow through with imposing the tax.
"The objective of these hearings is to allow the public to talk to us about their point of view," Kubic said.
He said voters will be presented with several options of tax amounts and collection periods during the hearings, solely for discussion purposes.

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