Officials decide to enact sales tax
The judges said they will shut down when they run out of money.
By D.A. WILKINSON
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
LISBON -- Columbiana County Commissioner Daniel Bing was ready Wednesday to enact a 0.5-percent continuous sales tax at his first meeting.
He got his opportunity.
Bing and departing Commissioner Sean Logan voted to enact the tax as of April 1, if there is no referendum drive by county voters.
The new commissioner said the money is needed to help create jobs to retain the population and fight the county's growing drug problem.
The tax will raise about 1 million a quarter, but the tax proceeds won't reach the county until July.
Judges speak out
After the vote, Judge C. Ashley Pike and Judge David Tobin of Common Pleas Court told the commissioners that they are about 10,000 short for basic costs and have not filled three positions.
They told the commissioners that they will close the courts when their money runs out. The courts have also been strained in part with a 22 percent increase in felony cases in the last year. Criminal cases also increased by 22 percent from 1996 through 2005 as the county's population dropped by 3.6 percent
Bing formerly worked for the county's mental health center helping to find jobs for people with addiction issues and criminal records. He resigned that job after he was elected because of a potential conflict of interest because the center gets some funding from the county.
The commissioner said all six of his children have moved from the county.
"People have a right to go to work and a right to feel safe," he said.
Bing said both the drug abusers and the police know where the drug houses are in the county. But he also said treatment is the best way to go.
"Every 1 spent on treatment saves 5 in enforcement," he said.
The commissioners will have to decide whether to borrow against the expected sales tax income, Bing said.
The vote happened after county Prosecutor Robert Herron reversed his office's earlier rulings about hearings on the sales tax.
The commissioners had been told they had to have two new hearings before each vote. That would have resulted in hearings with only two commissioners followed by the naming of a new commissioner.
The county had hearings on the sales tax last year but tabled action. Herron advised the commissioners they could vote without having more hearings.
Logan, who is leaving to become the director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and Bing approved the tax. Commissioner Jim Hoppel voted against it. He has campaigned on not enacting the sales tax.
Logan also switched his resignation date from Sunday to Friday. That will allow the county Democrats to move more quickly to name a replacement for Logan.