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Boardman might welcome law to let townships levy sales tax

Published: Wed, February 9, 2011 @ 12:05 a.m.

By Ashley Luthern



With a vote on an additional police levy looming, township residents and officials are weighing alternative revenue sources.

One idea voiced at a recent trustees meeting was the township’s levying a sales tax, but it cannot legally do so without a change in state law. Townships can levy only a property tax, said township Administrator Jason Loree.

Last year, Boardman collected about $10.8 million in property tax, and the township’s annual budget was about $16 million, said George A. Platton, assistant to the fiscal officer.

In that same time, Mahoning County collected more than $27 million in sales tax, with some arguing at least 50 percent of that is generated in Boardman. Under Ohio law, counties and the state can levy a sales tax.

“Knowing that we have busy corridors for Market Street and [U.S. Route] 224, and you consider how much sales tax comes from the car dealerships, it’s safe to say at least 50, although some people may say it’s more,” Loree said.

But how much of the sales tax is returned to benefit the township?

None, said Anthony Magnetta, deputy auditor for Mahoning County.

The sales tax goes to the state, and then the county gets a lump sum back to its general fund, he said. That money is used to provide countywide services for nearly 30 departments, such as the sheriff, jail and juvenile detention and the various courts.

The county does not collect data on sales-tax distribution by township or municipality.

Boardman trustees have said to residents that more than 100,000 people come through the township during the day to work, eat and shop, based on traffic studies, and that safety forces are needed to keep them safe. The cost of those services, however, is carried by the roughly 38,000 Boardman residents.

“It would make sense that we wouldn’t push the full burden of the cost to do business on the property owners when a lot of folks come into the community from other places and that may cause use of our services,” Loree said.

“What are the businesses doing [to help]?” asked Joe Bush, a township resident, at the last trustees meeting.

Loree later cautioned residents from seeming anti-business.

“If a business comes in and they give somebody a job, and that person is able to work there, have an income and spend that money back into the community, then the business is keeping Mahoning County alive,” he said.

With the township split between residential and commercial property, both must work together in the interest of the township, Loree said. He added, “If there were no businesses, there would really be no Boardman Township or Mahoning County in terms of what people know and expect from it today.”

At the Jan. 24 meeting, Trustee Tom Costello explained to Bush that the township is interested in pursuing a change in state law to allow townships the ability to levy a sales tax.

State Rep. Ronald V. Gerberry of Austintown, D-59th, said the township would face an uphill battle.

“I know where Boardman’s coming from. I totally understand why they would like to see this. But with the conditions we’re facing, do I think anything like that would have legs? Well, it would have a difficult climb up the mountain,” Gerberry said.

Strong lobbying groups for cities, which can levy an income tax, and counties, which can levy a sales tax, would put up a fight against such a change, he said.

Loree, however, argued that a broad change could benefit all forms of local government.

“If we could all work together for a common goal — to allow us to tax the people how they want to be taxed — perhaps there wouldn’t be much opposition,” he said.

A bedroom community, Loree said, could choose to levy some kind of combination of income and property tax, for example.

State Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Canfield, D-33rd, called Boardman’s position in Mahoning County “unique.”

“Boardman feels that most of [the sales tax] is derived in Boardman, and it probably is,” Schiavoni said.

But he added that he is cautious about expanding the taxing power of local government.

“The bottom line is I would be worried to give government at any level another ability to tax residents, but Boardman is a unique situation, and I’m willing to hear them out,” Schiavoni said.

Boardman is hoping to get help on a law change from the Coalition for Large Ohio Urban Townships (CLOUT).

To be a member of CLOUT, a township must have a population of 15,000 or more and a budget of $3 million or more, said Vicky Earhart, chairwoman of the organization. The CLOUT membership is less than $200.

Earhart also is administrator for Anderson Township in Hamilton County, in southwest Ohio.

“We feel there has to be an overall approach to look at the best and effective way of providing local governments funding, perhaps looking at the gas-tax distribution,” Earhart said.

She said it was difficult to provide a definitive answer on CLOUT’s position of giving townships more taxation powers, because the group hasn’t met this year. The coalition meets today.

As administrator of Anderson Township with a population of 45,000, she said the area is mostly residential with a strong business corridor of restaurants and shops. Yet Earhart also admitted a taxing change might not be effective for Anderson.

“We don’t have an income tax and have historically prided ourselves on that,” she said. “In regard to a sales tax, while it would provide some replacement funding, it would not completely make up for” state cuts to local governments.

Michael Hinnenkamp in Springfield Township, near Cincinnati, echoed those sentiments.

“Philosophically, we’re in favor of” giving townships greater variety in taxation, he said. “Would it greatly aid our cause? Probably not.”

Even though Springfield has a population close to 40,000, it is a bedroom community, lacking large shopping centers or industrial complexes, he said.

Locally, Austintown Township Administrator Michael Dockry said that it would support Boardman’s efforts for a legislation change.

“I think any time you have the chance to spread your taxes among property, the sales or the income, we here we would be in favor of it,” Dockry said.

Austintown has an estimated population of 37,000 and is part of CLOUT.

Loree said he is optimistic of CLOUT’s chances of success.

and pointed out that this year the group has hired a lobbyist for the first time.


1timOthy(802 comments)posted 4 years ago

When does it stop ?

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2UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 4 years ago

Smaller government, not new taxes is the answer for Boardman. I doubt the GOP legislature and John Kasich will go along with any tax increases in the current smaller government and lower taxes Ohio environment or they be gone next election too. The taxpayers have spoken time and time again - No New Taxes! What don't these Democrat politicians understand?

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3author50(1121 comments)posted 4 years ago

Tax, tax, tax and spend, spend, spend.

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4AKAFR1(322 comments)posted 4 years ago

falconeddy...be careful you may confuse them with logic and reason.

Here is another interesting example of where your tax dollars are going. It allows you to see what your local teachers are being paid!


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5republicanRick(1341 comments)posted 4 years ago

I've repeated it many times, Jason Loree does not have the management experience to run a township -- he was hired to manage Boardman right out of college. He and the trustees do not have the "stones" to cut spending -- they are looking for the easy way out.

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6Doctore(52 comments)posted 4 years ago

Township residents should jump for joy at the proposal of this idea. If you haven't realized that your safety services spend 80% of their time dealing with retail related issues, and non-residents, then you need to look in to the stats. Far too many man hours are spent on crashes, reports, shoplifters etc... that don't involve residents that are funding the safety forces through property tax alone. Next step is hammering the rental properties.

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7apollo(1227 comments)posted 4 years ago

They'll be looking for any way to generate more revenue. The employees look at reductions in compensation as a non starter. They reluctantly agreed to a freeze that really wasn't a freeze since they all get STEP increases every year.

Next, they'll be talking about bake sales to generate revenues.

All they know is........more, more, more for them and less, less, less, for the taxpayers.

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8apollo(1227 comments)posted 4 years ago

Jump for joy? That we can rake over the coals the only businesses in Boardman and force them to leave too? I never jump for joy about higher taxes simply to pay for already overpaid employees.

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9Doctore(52 comments)posted 4 years ago

"Apollo"...you don't think the 60,000 + people going in and out of Boardman shouldn't be paying anything for the abundance of Township services they use?
I've been trolling around here for a while and watching (chuckling) at your continuous posts about the same things. It seems to me that even with your veiled but still apparent personal issues with the Township, you are intelligent enough to know that this is a smart move.

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10apollo(1227 comments)posted 4 years ago

Bending the health care cost curve requires people to do with less health care. No more running to the doctor every time your kid gets a cold. No more Viagra for all you retired cops. No more free prescriptions or $5 co-pays. Demand is a big driver of health care costs and until people realize what it cost through actually paying for some of it, the curve is headed up not down.

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11Millie(192 comments)posted 4 years ago

Are there really 100,000 people in the township on a given day? I think this figure needs to be reviewed and as the one poster wrote the businesses already pay huge property taxes to pay for these public services. Agreed the lowlifes who shop lift and cause general disruptions at the mall, need their section 8 vouchers revoked. A citizens committee should be formed to track the trouble makers and see where they live and if the taxpayers are paying for that too.

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12apollo(1227 comments)posted 4 years ago

They are like cocaine addicts except they are addicted to taxpayer dollars. They always want and need more. They never address the addiction which was based on inheritance monies that were unstable. Now they are desperately searching for their next fix. Whether it's more property taxes or a sales tax. No matter where the money comes from, it eventually comes from the taxpayers.

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13apollo(1227 comments)posted 4 years ago

KK obviously doesn't know the difference between rhetoric and numbers gotten directly from the township.

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14apollo(1227 comments)posted 4 years ago

The 100,000 a day is yet another scam the employees like to use.

Sorry but 60,000 shoppers aren't justification for more police.

Hey KK, using that 100,000 as justification for more police. Now that's rhetoric.

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15republicanRick(1341 comments)posted 4 years ago

25,000 vehicles a day pass through the intersection of 224 and Market St. If four people were in each car, I guess that's 100,000. I would think it's more like two per car which gives 50,000 people passing through the heart of Boardman each day.

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16Millie(192 comments)posted 4 years ago

Driving though isn't exactly stopping to shop or patronize a business or professional. They could put the highway patrol on the state roads and let the local police departments patrol the neighborhoods.

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17southsidedave(5006 comments)posted 4 years ago

Just what we need; more taxes. Outstanding!

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