WILMINGTON — On Monday no one from the public attended a second public hearing regarding a possible Clinton County sales tax increase, and the commissioners office has received only one email in opposition after last week’s article about the tax.
No more public hearings are scheduled on the matter, but commissioners anticipate further discussion, at least among themselves, in the coming weeks.
Clinton County Commissioners President Brenda K. Woods said Monday she is still continuing to do some homework on the issue and will think about it more before she is ready to make a decision.
The other two commissioners said they didn’t have anything to add Monday to what they said at the first public hearing March 27.
On March 27 Clinton County Commissioner Mike McCarty said that a consistent message from the public has been to not use proceeds from the sale of Clinton Memorial Hospital to pay for day-to-day expenses.
And Clinton County Commissioner Kerry R. Steed said March 27, “We knew the carryover would only take us so far.”
In 2016, county commissioners did not renew a 0.5 percent local sales tax and since then have relied on carryover dollars to annually balance revenue with expenses.
The county’s carryover has been spent down during the past three annual budget appropriations. For those three budgets there were revenue shortfalls, respectively, of about $1.9 million, $1.5 million, and $1.9 million.
During the last full calendar year of the additional 0.5 percent local sales tax, it generated about $2.8 million.
The email commissioners received on the issue asked them to please not raise the sales tax rate “or any of our taxes.” The commenter added, “When you sit down and do the math half of our paycheck goes to taxes in one form or another. Let’s start down sizing government and lighten the tax burden on our working class.”
There were three online public comments Monday at the end of the News Journal article about the first public hearing. One person wrote, “Why is it always brought up to tax the people of the county when they are barely able to afford what the burden is now? Why not cut things from the budget when resources are low?”
But another online commenter stated, “Put the 0.5-percent tax back on the books. If not for political gamesmanship, it would have never been removed.”
Currently, the local sales tax rate is 1 percent. If commissioners approve re-instating an additional local sales tax, it does not have to be at the previous additional rate of 0.5 percent. It can also be a 0.25 percent increase.
The state’s sales tax rate is 5.75 percent. Presently, then, the total sales tax rate in Clinton County adds up to 6.75 percent.
Of Ohio’s 88 counties, 53 of them have a total rate of 7.25 percent.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.