Sales-tax renewal to be on ballot

County officials will seek a renewal of a sales tax but not an increase for children’s services.

By D.a. Wilkinson

LISBON — Citizens can comment on the proposed renewal of Columbiana County’s 1-percent sales tax and have their final say at the ballot in November.

The commissioners must have two public hearings to put the tax on the November ballot.

The first was Wednesday night, and the second will be at 10:30 a.m. next Wednesday at the courthouse.

Only one person came to the hearing Wednesday but only to observe.

Commissioner Jim Hoppel said he did not know what to make of the lack of response.

Hoppel said that the tax is “44 percent of the general fund.”

The tax brings in about $8 million a year for five years. The county has a second, half-percent sales tax that brings in about $4 million a year. That’s all counties can have.

Passage is essential to continue county operations, county officials say.

“Yes, it’s very important,” Hoppel said.

The commissioners will have to approve the paperwork after the second hearing to put the tax back before voters.

The commissioners believe that the sales tax is the fairest tax since it’s based on what people can spend. The county initially won favor at the ballot for the 1 percent sales tax years ago by agreeing not to collect 2 mills on property in return for support of the sales tax. The property tax would have brought in about $3 million a year.

Commissioners have also begun the process to place the 0.75-mill levy for children services on the November ballot at no additional cost to voters.

Twice last year, voters turned down a 1.5-mill levy to increase funding for children services. In November of last year, about 55 percent of the voters rejected the idea.

The funding for the programs will be “a tight fit” financially, according to commissioners.

Eileen Dray-Bardon, director of the county’s Department of Job & Family Services, said that the defeated 1.5-mill levy would have brought in about $2.3 million a year.

The renewal would bring in about $900,000 a year.

Commissioner President Penny Traina said the commissioners are mindful of the many people struggling with tight budgets.

The county collected a 0.25-mill levy as far back as the 1950s. It was eventually defeated, but voters in 2000 and 2004 approved the 0.75-mill levy for children services.

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