Falling local revenues and doubts that reimbursements from the state will be sufficient to meet the costs of required programs and services prompted the Ottawa County commissioners to approve an emergency resolution that raises the sales/use tax by 0.25 percent.
With the increase, the total tax rate will be 6.75 percent, with the county share at 1.25 percent and the state portion at 5.5 percent.
The 0.25 percent increase will be in effect for three years and then automatically end, said commissioner Steve Arndt.
“State funding for many services has been dropping,” he said. “Unfortunately we are the delivery point for those services and it really puts a bind on us. We’re at the point it’s going to reach core services.”
Commissioners have cut the county’s operating budget by about $2.6 million over the past two years, he said, and the state is about six months in arrears in reimbursements to the county for service programs.
County officials said they expect the increase to go into effect in July. State law mandates a delay in the start of collections to allow for possible referendum challenges to an increase.
By far, the sales tax is the largest generator of revenue for the county.
According to 2008 figures, it generated approximately $5.2 million in revenue – about $1.9 million more than the $3.3 million raised by property taxes.
Fees, licenses, and fines generated about $2.2 million that year.
According to the Ohio Department of Taxation, Sandusky and Lucas counties have sales tax rates of 1.25 in addition to the state rate of 5.5 percent. Wood County levies a 1 percent rate on top of the state tax.
Ottawa County’s 1 percent rate has been in effect since January, 1998.
The annual county engineer/ township meeting has been scheduled for April 6 at the Ottawa County Fairgrounds.
The meeting is scheduled to start at 9 a.m.