COLUMBIANA COUNTY 'It's just a renewal,' official notes after 1% tax is approved

Voters in East Liverpool school district rejected an additional levy.
LISBON -- Voter passage of Columbiana County's 1 percent sales tax means business is status quo.
The five-year tax passed Tuesday with 58 percent of voters saying yes. The tax generates about $7.6 million annually, or roughly 43 percent of the county's general fund budget.
The tax was set to expire Dec. 31.
"This is by no means new money," said county Commissioner Gary Williams. "It's just a renewal, but we certainly would have been in dire financial straits without it."
Voters in the East Liverpool school district weren't as generous. They rejected a five-year, additional 12.4-mill levy with 53 percent of voters against it. The school district has been in state-declared fiscal emergency since December 2003.
The West Branch school district's income tax also failed. That school district also stretches into Mahoning County.
Other levies on Tuesday's ballot in the county saw positive results.
A 6.7-mill, five-year renewal for the Salem school district passed with 69 percent of voters in favor.
East Liverpool voters approved a natural gas aggregation plan with 59 percent of voters supporting it.
Lisbon's 1.7-mill, five-year levy to buy a new firetruck passed with 54 percent of voters casting votes in favor.
Road levies in Center and Elkrun townships also passed.
"I'm really grateful to the citizens of Columbiana County," Williams said.
At the end of August, a 0.5 percent, three-year sales tax expires. That tax generates between $3.75 million and $4 million annually.
"At some point, I'm sure we're going to have to talk about the half-percent tax," he said, referring to the possibility of returning to the ballot.
Commissioner Jim Hoppel agreed that the passage Tuesday gets the county over only one hurdle.
"This means we'll be able to get through next year knowing that we'll have that same money," he said.
Williams said cuts have already been made after voters rejected a continuing 1 percent sales tax last year.
"We've gone to 32-hour work weeks in some departments because there just wasn't the money there to pay them for 40 hours," he said.

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