Mahoning-Trumbull county summit set on need for bed-tax hike
By Sean Barron
At least several more weeks will pass before the fate of a proposed hike in Mahoning County’s bed tax for motels and hotels is known.
Commissioner Carol Rimedio Righetti said after Thursday’s county commissioners’ meeting that a gathering will be in mid-April to discuss the controversial proposal to raise the tax from 3 percent to 5 percent.
“We need economic development in the Valley,” Rimedio Righetti said, adding that the meeting likely would include members of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, the Western Reserve Port Authority, Mahoning and Trumbull counties’ Convention and Visitors’ bureaus and other economic-development entities.
If enacted, the increase would go to the port authority, which runs the Youngstown- Warren Regional Airport in Vienna. The nearby Youngstown Air Reserve Station also uses the facility’s runways and taxiways.
Rimedio Righetti was unable to provide a date but said she feels it’s imperative the entities in Mahoning and Trumbull counties work together for the area’s economic vitality.
In other business, commissioners approved a $180,000 contract to Poland-based Intellitech Corp. to install a computerized Jail Management and Photo Capture system in the Mahoning County jail.
Funds for the new software are part of a $600,000 federal-matching grant, $300,000 of which will come from the office of U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th. The other half will be matched by local governments.
The system should be fully implemented in six to eight months and promises to greatly improve the jail’s current system for booking inmates, noted Maj. Alki Santamas of the sheriff’s department.
The software also will allow jail officials better and faster access to information pertaining to inmates and will improve the ability to verify that the correct inmate is being released, Santamas explained.
In addition, the new system will make information-gathering on inmates for lawyers, judges and law-enforcement personnel more efficient and timely, noted Barb Zorn, an independent information-technology consultant.
A 2006 study cited the need for improvements to the local system, which failed to meet certain standards, Zorn added.
Also at the session, Commissioner John A. McNally IV handed a proclamation to members of the 12-year-old Mahoning Valley Epilepsy Fund Inc., which serves Mahoning, Columbiana and Trumbull counties.
The agency was recognized for its education efforts, services and advocacy on behalf of those who suffer from the disease and associated seizure disorders.