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Mahoning commissioners put their faith in the people.



Published: Mon, September 30, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



It now seems certain that the Mahoning County commissioners will put their faith and the county's future in the hands of the voters this November.

After holding a series of public hearings on the possibility of imposing a county sales tax, at least two commissioners said last week that they favor going ahead with a Nov. 5 vote on renewal of one of the county's two 0.5 percent taxes.

Normally, renewals are relatively easy to win, but nothing has ever come easily regarding the county's sales tax. The renewal suffered a somewhat shocking defeat in the May primary election, and if it doesn't pass in November, the county will be looking at the loss of about $12 million in revenue and an unavoidable financial crisis.

We aren't certain why some people are so intent bringing county government to its knees over a tax that they are now paying with no obvious hardship and which, if it is repealed, would put only pennies in their pockets. The tax represents a nickel on a $10 purchase.

A lot for a nickel

On the other hand, those nickels add up for county government, paying for courts, jails, roads and economic development projects that allow the county and subdivisions within in it to win state and federal grants worth millions of dollars.

That story is going to have to be brought home to county voters when they go to the polls Nov. 5.

Those who suggest that Mahoning County should be able to operate without the tax are not being realistic. No urban county in the state of Ohio could survive at the taxation level they are suggesting for Mahoning County.

The piggyback tax isn't an extravagance. It's a necessity.

That won't be an easy sell, given a faltering economy. But because of the economy, this would be the worst time to cripple county government.




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