Trustees ask state reps to consider legislation
Township officials want to “invade” the Mahoning County sales tax, and they’re asking state lawmakers for help.
Township trustees and department leaders met with state Rep. Ronald V. Gerberry of Austintown, D-59th, and state Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Canfield, D-33rd, Thursday afternoon.
Mahoning County collected more than $27 million in sales tax in 2010, and Boardman officials argue that at least 50 percent of that is generated in Boardman — with none of the revenue returned to the township. Trustee Larry Moliterno said the township does not “want to cripple the county” but said Boardman is looking for new revenue streams.
He said the township wants to continue to provide services to retain businesses but said it will be difficult as funds from the state dwindle and the loss of the estate tax approaches.
“Right now, that support is based upon the backs of the taxpayers in Boardman Township, and that’s not fair,” said Fiscal Officer William Leicht.
Earlier this year, trustees had asked state legislators to introduce a law that would give large, urban townships the ability to levy a township sales tax, pending voter approval.
They backed away from that because the additional sales tax would hurt businesses such as car dealerships, said Trustee Chairman Thomas Costello.
Instead, trustees are asking Gerberry and Schiavoni to consider introducing legislation that would allow urban, home-rule townships that generate 50 percent or more of the county’s sales tax to take some of the sales tax generated within its borders.
Such legislation would directly benefit Boardman and another township near Cincinnati, Costello said.
“Let these two Ohio townships, [one] that is the economic hub of Mahoning County, invade the county sales tax to a point of a quarter to half a percent,” Leicht added.
Gerberry and Schiavoni said they need more information but are interested in pursuing such legislation. One necessary piece of data is how much of the county sales tax is generated in Boardman.
In February, a representative from the county auditor’s office told The Vindicator that the county does not collect data on sales tax by township or municipality.
“This is an intriguing idea,” Gerberry said, also calling it as “creative.”
At one time, Costello said, the county did return some sales-tax revenue among the 14 townships in the county. Now, Boardman only receives some state sales tax returned to it through the Local Government Fund. Boardman expected to receive $670,000 this year from the Local Government Fund, and it is not clear how much of that amount was generated from the state sales tax.
None of the county sales tax money is returned to the township, a Mahoning County auditor’s office representative said earlier this year. The sales-tax money is used to provide countywide services for nearly 30 departments such as the sheriff, jail and courts.
Trustee Brad Calhoun said such a law could benefit both the township and Mahoning County.
“It would be a better Boardman and more people would come here to shop,” and that would mean more revenue for the county sales tax, he said.