WILMINGTON — Clinton County Commissioners President Mike Curry recommended Monday that the county’s 0.5 percent sales tax not be renewed when its five-year term ends later this year.
An appointment will be set up between county commissioners and the members of the Clinton County Budget Commission to make sure Curry’s calculations are correct. And if they are, Curry’s fellow county commissioners both indicated they too favor letting this particular sales tax expire.
Curry referred to an “influx of revenue” as a major reason to consider dropping the tax. He cited increases in tax receipts from the real estate tax and the county’s two sales taxes — one sales tax of 1 percent, and the 0.5 percent tax under discussion.
The 0.5 percent sales tax generated about $2.8 million last year.
Presently in the General Fund there is about $6.3 million of unappropriated dollars — also called a carryover. In addition, the county has a $2 million reserve account that is separate from the General Fund, said Curry.
After Curry’s presentation, Clinton County Commissioner Patrick Haley said, “I of course am very supportive of giving tax relief to the taxpayers of this community, and I think that we’re in a position now that we can do that and not harm the services.”
Clinton County Commissioner Kerry Steed said the revenue increases show the local economy is improving.
On the other side of the coin besides revenue, he said, is the budgeting process. For the past few years, the county has been “extremely responsible” when it came to budgets, said Steed.
During that time, the revenue forecasts for an upcoming budget year were very conservative, he said, and county commissioners “always budgeted” to those conservative projections.
In short, the county has been “very fiscally responsible, and lived within our means,” Steed added.
Curry said he thinks under the circumstances if the 0.5 percent sales tax were not permitted to roll off “for the residents of the county, it will be a big injustice on our [county commissioners’] part.”
He said legislation for the 0.5 percent sales tax never spoke of the tax as either temporary or permanent. Rather, it was initially approved to a five-year time period, next to a one-year period, then again to a five-year period that’s set to conclude later this year, he said.
The reason for setting the tax’s time span at five years, said Curry, is that it provides enough time for county officials to assess the effects and then decide whether to renew the tax, reduce its amount or let it expire.
The state sales tax rate in Ohio is 5.75 percent. Currently, Clinton County’s two sales taxes add up to 1.5 percent, or a total sales tax rate of 7.25 percent in the county.
If commissioners ultimately decide to let the 0.5 percent tax expire, the new total sales tax rate in the county would of course be 6.75 percent. The new sales tax rate would go into effect on Oct. 1, 2016, according to Curry.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768 or on Twitter @GHuffenberger.