Officials rescind sales tax

They were faced with a referendum effort that could have blocked collections on the tax increase.
LISBON -- Only weeks after imposing a 0.5 percent increase in Columbiana County's sales tax, commissioners have rescinded the measure and will consider putting the matter before voters.
Commissioners took the action at a special meeting Friday as a referendum effort was gaining momentum.
The referendum, mounted by county residents opposed to the imposed tax, could have blocked collections of the increase. Collections would have started about March 1.
Commissioner Sean Logan said the looming referendum was partly why he voted to rescind the tax, which commissioners imposed Dec. 27.
Voting day: But the key reason he changed his mind, he said, was a recent decision by the Ohio Legislature to hold this year's primary May 7.
Logan said he originally favored imposing the tax because there was talk of a late June primary.
Logan said he felt that was too long to wait for a vote on a sales tax increase, prompting him to favor imposing it to bring much needed revenue into county government.
But state legislators' having decided now on a May 7 primary means the county won't have to wait so long before it gets a decision from voters on a tax increase, Logan said.
Commissioner Dave Cranmer also had voted in December to impose the tax. He voted Friday to rescind it but afterward refused to explain why.
Commissioner Jim Hoppel originally had voted against imposing the tax, saying he believes tax increases should be put on the ballot.
He reiterated that belief Friday and agreed to rescind the tax.
Hearings: Two hearings, which are required by law, will be held in coming weeks to discuss commissioners' proposal to place a 0.5 percent sales tax increase on the May 7 ballot.
Hoppel said that if the matter is put before voters this spring he will propose that the ballot measure dictate how the increase would be used.
The revenue should go toward paying for housing prisoners, toward paying off a loan the county took out to build the new county jail several years ago and toward payments to a multicounty juvenile justice system to which the county belongs, Hoppel proposed.
Commissioners have said they need an increase in the county's 1 percent sales tax to generate additional revenue necessary to adequately run county government.
The increase would bring in about $3 million annually.

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