Published: Tuesday, October 31, 2006
County seeking 0.5% tax again
The majority of issues on the ballot are for new taxes.
LISBON Another attempt to pass a sales tax tops the November ballot in Columbiana County.
Voters have rejected the 0.5 percent tax five times in five tries, including the first sales tax try in November 1977.
Overall, county commissioners have asked voters to approve various sales taxes 20 times, and voters have rejected it 15 times.
The half-percent will bring in about $4 million a year. The commissioners and county Auditor Nancy Milliken agree that if the tax is defeated, layoffs and other cuts will begin about three months into 2007.
The county's budget was about $18 million when the county was collecting 1 percent and 0.5 percent sales taxes. Commissioners champion the sales tax as a good source of revenue because about 25 percent comes from people from other counties. The 1 percent tax passed in 2005, but the 0.5 percent has been defeated twice. The county conserved funds to try to operate this year on about $16 million. In 2007, those funds will have been spent and officials will be looking at operating on $14 million for the year.
Commissioner Jim Hoppel said that if the 0.5 percent tax passes, commissioners can borrow against the receipts to keep operations going. Sales tax receipts won't be available until mid-2007.
Milliken said that if the tax is defeated, she will prepare budgets for officeholders to help them know when cuts will have to be made. She added that the county can't wait until mid-2007 or later to make cuts because most of the county revenue will have been spent or earmarked.
But the county is not alone in asking for revenue. Of the 19 issues on the ballot, 12 are for additional revenue.
Both the city of East Palestine and St. Clair Township are asking for new police levies. Salineville and Wayne townships and the Unity Township Fire District are asking for replacement fire levies.
Knox and West townships and the Unity Township Road District are asking for additional or replacement levies for road work.
Rogers and Wellsville are each seeking replacement levies for general expenses.
The only school issue is a new issue. The Beaver Local School District is asking voters to replace its aging schools with a new facility. The district wants voters to approve a $17 million bond issue for 28 years, and a 0.5-mill levy for 23 years for school maintenance.