Mahoning County Commissioners look to November after sales tax r - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

Mahoning County Commissioners look to November after sales tax renewal fails

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -
Some said it failed as a reaction to recent pay raises in the county, others said it failed because the half percent sales tax renewal would have been permanent.

Either way, the Mahoning County sales tax renewal failed Tuesday night by about 500 votes.

The half percent accounts for $15.5 million dollars out of Mahoning county's total $50 million budget.  Now, commissioners said they plan to focus the sales tax in November to specifically fund public safety and the justice system.

When they place it on the ballot again, they may make it a full one percent sales tax.

"We have the sheriff's department, the judges, the prosecutor's office, all the courts. This takes up $32 million.  That's 1% and it doesn't even cover the whole amount. So, you can't exist on less than a percent," said Carol Rimedio-Righetti, Mahoning County Commissioner.

Even if the tax had passed, the county was facing a $1.5 million shortage.  

County officials plan to meet with the budget director to figure out ways to overcome that shortfall, which will only get worse.  The shortage is expected to jump to $6.5 million by 2015.

Even though drastic cuts aren't needed immediately, since this half percent sales tax doesn't expire until September 30, 2015, the county still has to figure out how to fund it's court system which is one of the busiest in the state.  

"By Ohio revised code they have time frames they have to meet. It's not like they can delay trials, things like that.  There are performance standards they have to meet by the state court. All these things have to be done," said Audrey Tillis, Mahoning County Budget Director.

Commissioners believe they can get a sales tax passed in the fall with a much better focused, full-fledged campaign, something that may have been lacking this spring.

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