By Karl Henkel
In a sign that consumers locally are spending more, sales-tax revenue in the Mahoning Valley vaulted 5.5 percent in January compared to January 2011.
In Columbiana County, retail sales-tax revenue surged 14.2 percent, from $1.3 million to nearly $1.5 million, according to the Ohio Department of Taxation.
“[Business] has been up tremendously,” said Mike Naffah, who owns the Days Inn and Shale Tavern and Grille in Lisbon.
He said people from all over Northeast Ohio have descended on Columbiana County, not just because of the oil-and-gas industry, but “a combination of everything.”
Mahoning County, where revenues rose from about $3 million to about $3.15 million, and Trumbull County, where revenues increased from about $2.3 million to about $2.37 million, experienced more-modest gains of 3.7 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively.
Mahoning and Trumbull counties have a 1 percent sales-tax rate; Columbiana County’s rate is 1.5 percent.
Statewide sales-tax revenues climbed from $146.2 million to $156.4 million, an increase of 6.9 percent.
Last year, the Valley had an 8 percent jump in sales tax year-to-year revenue, compared with the statewide average of 4.6 percent.
Most of the revenue is attributed to monthly filers, whose tax returns are due by the 23rd of the month.
The monthly collections figure primarily reflects economic activity that occurred in the month prior to the collection month, meaning a bulk of January’s figures actually are from December.
The growth, however, comes with caution.
“Sure, the sales tax is up, and it’s wonderful,” said Cleveland-based economist George Zeller. “But at the same time, the state has cut all of the local budgets.”