Officials promote 0.5% sales tax early

The commissioners are offering to talk to organizations about the tax.
LISBON -- The Columbiana County commissioners have begun promoting the 0.5 percent sales tax two months before the May primary.
The tax was not renewed last November, leaving the county short about $4 million a year.
Sean Logan, commission board chairman, told the other commissioners Wednesday the good and bad financial news.
The good news is the Multi-County Juvenile Attention System has agreed to let the county carry the remainder of its 2006 payment into 2007. The county has paid $800,000 of its $972,000 bill.
Logan said he went before the system's board, "asking for forbearance. ... It is a humbling experience."
Logan said that system also had agreed to let the county carry over part of its debt when the Columbiana lost the sales tax in 2002.
Jail expenses
The bad news is that the county didn't fund about $1 million of the estimated cost of running the jail this year. The actual cost will depend on the number of prisoners and any medical needs.
Logan also said the county's receipts from the 1 percent sales tax -- renewed by voters in May 2005 -- are down by about $150,000. Receipts were down 11 percent in January and February from a year ago. "It is not a good situation," Logan added.
Car sales that contribute a large percentage of sales taxes are down 20 percent throughout the state, Logan said.
The commissioners in the past have used the "Cents Make Sense" slogan to promote the sales taxes with signs and a mailing to voters.
More informative
Commissioner Jim Hoppel had said the commissioners may try this year to speak more about the tax. The commissioners offered to speak about to any interested groups or organizations.
"I hope people will take a broader view. Good, healthy, stable government is important to the community," Hoppel said.
Logan has been telling reporters of the small amount the sales tax adds to his weekly trip to the grocery store. The commissioner, who is on the county's solid waste district board and a recycler, said that returning brown bags to the grocery store for a refund cut the weekly tax cost to pennies.

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