Mahoning County Commissioners hold first town hall on sales tax - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

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Mahoning County Commissioners hold first town hall on sales tax

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -

Mahoning County commissioners are warning voters that without an increased sales tax, county services will begin a downward spiral.

Last May, voters rejected their request to renew the half-percent sales tax and make it permanent. This time around, commissioners have made some changes to their request and are asking voters to weigh-in before placing theissue on the November ballot.

In 2005 inmates from the Mahoning County Jail celebrated their release due to a loss of a sales tax. At the public hearing, Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Green warned voters it could happen again. “Ladies and gentleman, that's the last thing I wanted to say to everybody here was something that came off like a threat, but it’s not a threat. It’s a fact,” Sheriff Green said.

Commissioners have put two options for the sales tax before voters asking which one they'd rather see on November's ballot.

Unlike their last proposal, the sales tax is not indefinite. Both options would last only five years, but they ask for an additional quarter-percent tax. The difference between the two current proposals is that one option places the money into the county's general fund. The second option specifically earmarks the money for the criminal justice system.

“If it’s earmarked specifically for those entities, for example, say the courts mandate additional monies now it can't come from that 3/4 of a percent and shutdown the jail,” said Mahoning County Commissioner David Ditzler.

The total three-quarter percent sales tax would generate $24 million; about how much it costs to operate the county's judicial services including the sheriff's department, prosecutor, 911, and the coroner's office.

“This sales tax tells the business community across the country that we the people of Mahoning County support our law enforcement and that they are welcome to come here and set up new business,” said Joseph Ohr, Mahoning County Coroner’s Office.

The majority of voters in attendance at the public hearing seemed to be in favor of the tax. Another public hearing is scheduled for June 30th in Canfield.


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