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Officials entertain plans for new tax



Published: Sat, February 19, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



A similar process occurred just two years ago.

WARREN -- Trumbull County commissioners will start the process next week for two public hearings to consider an additional county sales tax.

"We're saying we're going to hold two public hearings to get input on the need, or lack of need, to have an additional sales tax," said Anthony Carson Jr., county administrator.

Because collections are calculated quarterly, any new tax -- if approved by commissioners after the hearings -- couldn't begin until July 1, with the money available in October.

Hearings must be advertised

But it could mean an additional $2 million to $2.5 million for county government in the last quarter of the year, and $8 million over a full year.

"We would get three months of collection for 2005 if, in fact, the commissioners decide to do anything. No decision has been made yet by all three commissioners," Carson said.

Dates for the hearings would be set after Thursday's board of commissioners meeting and passage of a resolution to advertise the public hearings, and after a review of the tax time line with the county prosecutor's office.

"As always, time is of the essence, in order that the board of commissioners may have time to explore all options," James J. Misocky, first assistant prosecutor, wrote at the end of a timetable for the tax hearings.

Two have voiced support

Commissioners James Tsagaris and Paul Heltzel have indicated their support for imposing an additional county sales tax to maintain county offices that have started cutting back on hours and laying off staffers.

Board Chairman Daniel Polivka said Friday that the board will "hear everybody out and look at all options." He has said an additional tax should be an option of last resort.

On Thursday, the board will authorize its clerk to advertise in a newspaper of general circulation for two public hearings "to be held in regards to the consideration and adoption of a county sales tax and a county use tax."

A previous board of commissioners followed the same process on Jan. 22, 2003; only Tsagaris remains from that three-man board.

Voters rejected tax increase

The county already has a half-percent sales tax in effect. In 2003, voters soundly rejected another half-percent sales tax the county had been collecting, which created the present budget crunch. As a result, the $32 million certified for the county's general fund this year is $6 million short of what's needed, officials said.

Commissioners had a second round of budget hearings with department heads this month.

The county's budget commission urged county commissioners to impose a second, half-percent sales tax. The commission includes the county auditor, treasurer and prosecutor.




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