Hearings will be held to receive input from the public on the fate of a 0.25 percent sales tax that is scheduled to expire this summer in Ottawa County, Jim Sass, a county commissioner said.
Sass and his fellow commissioners, Steve Arndt and Jo Ellen Regal, held a work session Wednesday to review the county’s financial condition and the pending sunset of the sales tax, agreeing to schedule two public hearings before deciding if it should be extended or not.
As of Thursday, there was no date set for the hearings, Sass said.
The commissioners in 2010 put the additional sales tax into effect on July 1 as an emergency measure with an expiration set for June 30 of this year.
The tax generates about $1.25 million a year.
Sass said the county in 2010 was feeling the effects of losses in state and federal revenues. Regal wasn’t a member of the board of commissioners at the time.
According to the county’s 2011 annual report, the general fund that year was $14.8 million and expenditures were $14.4 million.
The report credits a concerted effort by elected officials and employees to contain costs and the sales tax for the budget surplus.
“Without the emergency 0.25 percent sales tax the general fund would have had a deficit of $892,487. The board put into place the emergency 0.25 percent sales tax …to help offset revenue decreases and expense increases due to the changes in the State of Ohio’s budget and the decrease in interest income,” the report says. “Interest income in 2011 was $2.26 million less than that in 2007.”
With the 0.25 percent tax, the county’s total sales tax rate is 6.75 per cent.
Sass said the commissioners during their work session made no decision on seeking an extension – temporary or permanent.
He said the commissioners expect to make a decision by mid March.
“We needed the quarter percent to maintain the status quo, to keep us where we were,” Sass said.
If the commissioners decide to extend the 0.25 percent sales tax, they can do so by adopting a resolution – which would be subject to a voter referendum.
The board could also decide to put the matter before voters on the November ballot, Sass said.
According to the Ohio Department of Taxation, Sandusky County has a total sales tax rate of 7 percent, Wood County’s rate is 6.5 percent, and Lucas County’s rate is 6.75 percent.