The Mahoning County commissioners are asking residents of the township to vote for a sales tax increase that will be on the ballot in November.
At a special meeting following the board of trustees meeting Monday, Commissioner David Ditzler presented the trustees, other local government officials and residents with information about a proposed sales tax hike.
Two options for the Nov. 4 ballot would renew an existing half-percent sales tax for five years and add an additional quarter-percent sales tax of the same duration.
If approved by voters countywide, both the renewal and the increase would be earmarked for criminal justice, with the majority of the funds going to the sheriff’s department.
Ditzler said the tax would generate a total of $24 million, $20 million of which would go to the sheriff’s department. The other $4 million would be allocated for the coroner’s office, the prosecutor’s office and for 911 dispatches.
This is the first time a general fund renewal is being proposed as an earmark for a specific purpose. “When you earmark it ... then you feel comfortable when you’re voting on it,” Ditzler said.
“If we go into next year with the same situation .... we’ll lose 60 to 80 deputies,” Ditzler said. Ditzler said the work done by the sheriff’s office is crucial to the safety of the community, a point on which township Police Chief Jack Nichols agreed. Nichols said he hoped that if the measure passes, that the county jail will be able to operate at full capacity.
One resident raised the concern that while Boardman Township raises by far the most tax revenue out of all of the communities in Mahoning County, it does not receive proportional benefits.
“Obviously Boardman generates the lion’s share of the sales tax revenue,” Ditzler said. However, he disagreed that Boardman does not benefit from the tax, since the county is responsible for the jail and the courts.