COLUMBIANA CO. Sales tax gets voted onto ballot



Commissioners can try again if the attempt fails.
By D.A. WILKINSON
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
LISBON -- Columbiana County commissioners say they are asking voters to approve a continuous 1-percent sales tax to provide stable government.
"I like roller coasters at Cedar Point, but not when running county government," Commissioner Sean Logan.
Commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday to put the issue on the November ballot.
Commissioner Jim Hoppel said, "Is this a risk or an opportunity? It's an opportunity to secure the financial future of the county."
If approved, the issue would replace a five-year, 1-percent tax that ends in 2005.
If approved, the new issue would go into effect in 2006. If the tax fails, commissioners can try again in 2005.
Sales tax in the area
Voters last approved a sales tax in November 2000. Since 1977, commissioners have put 15 sales taxes on the ballot. Voters approved the tax three times.
Commissioner Gary Williams, who was the first of the board members to say he supported a continuous tax, noted it provides 43 percent of the general operating funds, or about $11.7 million a year.
Commissioners noted that every county in Ohio has a sales tax.
Eliminating that revenue in Columbiana County would hurt the local economy because the county couldn't provide basic services like transferring vehicle titles or property, commissioners said. That's happened in the past when the tax was voted down.
Williams said that funds also are needed for long-range planning to provide a stable future for the county.
But the officials are well aware that county voters like to have their say on the sales tax.
"In the end, it's the voters who control our destiny," Logan said. "[But] we're all in this together."
Logan said the county government operates on a lean budget, and that he can say yes when, "people look you in the eye and say, 'You need it?'"
Commissioners hope residents share the commissioners' vision for a bright future, Logan added.
A committee, "Cents Make Sense," has been formed to promote the sales tax.
Commissioners have another 0.5 percent tax that will expire, which they will consider later.
wilkinson@vindy.com

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