WILMINGTON — This fall the sales tax rate in Clinton County will increase by 0.5 percent (½ of 1 percent).
Clinton County commissioners on Monday approved the increase, which re-instates a 0.5 percent local sales tax that in 2016 commissioners did not renew. Since letting the tax roll off the books, the county has relied on carryover dollars to annually balance revenue with expenses.
Clinton County Commissioners President Brenda K. Woods stated taxpayers have said they don’t want money from the sale of the hospital to be spent on day-to-day operations of county government. In trying to abide with that, the board of commissioners feels it’s necessary to bring back the 0.5 percent sales tax to help fund daily operations, she added.
Clinton County Commissioner Kerry R. Steed said commissioners, in performing their budgeting function, have “exhausted” the cost-saving measures at their disposal, along with maintaining sound fiscal policy.
Moreover, the “overriding sentiment” of the public is not to spend hospital proceeds on the county government’s operating expenses, said Steed.
Clinton County Commissioner Mike McCarty said that though this is his first year as commissioner, he has sat through the county budget process as an observer and he thinks the commissioners have done countless things to make the best of the budget. Nevertheless, they still run up against yearly deficits, he said.
When proceeds from the county’s sale of the hospital are taken out of the picture, the county is running short on revenue as compared to expenditures, said McCarty.
“To me it was a revenue issue, not an expense issue,” he added.
The tax increase will go into effect Oct. 1.
The state of Ohio’s sales tax rate is 5.75 percent. Presently, the county’s sales tax rate is 1 percent, adding up to 6.75 percent. In October, that will change to a total of 7.25 percent. Of Ohio’s 88 counties, 53 of them have a total rate of 7.25 percent.
No one attended either of two public hearings the commissioners held in the early spring regarding a possible Clinton County sales tax increase.
Clinton County commissioner files contain one correspondence in favor of a sales tax increase, and one against.
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.
In the legislation commissioners passed Monday, the 0.5 percent additional county sales tax has a permanent status. Even so, it can be rescinded through a simple majority vote of commissioners.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.