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SALES TAX PETITION Business owner tries to gather signatures



Published: Tue, July 26, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Getting there will take some doing because of a construction job.

WARREN -- Bill Walls is hoping a bunch of people give him a buzz -- literally -- before Aug. 25.

Walls is busy running his Warren business, B & amp;B Automotive Machine at 717 W. Market St. The "sales tax petition" trailer in his parking lot opens up every morning around 10. A buzzer inside calls him out when someone ventures in.

"I have to witness their signature," he said.

There's still enough time, but perhaps not enough public outcry, to get a repeal effort on one of the new Trumbull County sales taxes on November's ballot.

Walls isn't satisfied with the petition results, and a curb and roadway construction job launched last week in front of his business isn't helping.

"The construction is gonna kill us," he said as Joe Lofaro Concrete equipment tore into the roadway.

Barrels and arrow signs slowed traffic and on Monday, prevented westbound access to B & amp;B Automotive. Also, people can no longer walk across the street to the trailer from the busy Hot Dog Shoppe.

The number of people coming in to sign the petition has tapered from 10 to three or four a day, Walls said.

Additional outlets

Now being planned are letters to the editor about the petition drive, and to the 30 active volunteers asking them to turn in their current figures for signatures.

"We want to continue, naturally," Walls said. "The big difficulty has been getting volunteers."

Will the drive succeed? "Unless the people getting the signatures perform better than expected, probably not," he said.

People need to get out and do something about the government if they don't like what's happening, he added.

Opponents under the guidance of Thaddeus Price of Howland and Walls had gathered about 3,200 signatures through mid-May; a total of 7,170 are required with a month to go.

The opponents still have time, until 75 days before the general election, to seek repeal of an emergency quarter-percent additional sales tax for criminal justice services, such as the sheriff. These signatures would be filed with the county board of elections.

Collection on that tax started this month because it's an emergency measure.

The other new county sales tax now being collected is for general county operations. Earlier this year, Price had hoped to gather 7,170 signatures to force this tax onto the November ballot, but couldn't get enough.

Both new taxes are for a continuing period on retail sales. Each quarter-percent tax would generate about $400,000 per month, or about $4.8 million a year, if collections remain steady.

The county already collects a half-percent sales tax. The two new taxes make the county's total sales tax rate 1 percent. Ironically, the additional county taxes and the state sales tax washed out each other this summer. Ohio's sales tax went from 6 percent to 5 1/2 percent July 1.




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