Summit County council will vote on a resolution tonight to set up two public hearings to discuss the county executive’s proposal to increase the county sales tax by one-quarter of 1 percent.
According to state law, county sales taxes can only be changed in increments of 0.25 percent.
The Ohio Revised Code also states there must be two hearings before it goes to the ballot. Also, to get on the ballot, the majority of the council must vote for it.
But voters ultimately make the decision on whether the tax goes into effect. The tax hike request could be on the ballot as soon as the November general election.
The sales tax proposal would increase the county’s portion of the sales tax from 0.5 to 0.75 percent and boost the total sales tax to 7 percent. Summit County consumers now pay a sales tax of 6.75 percent, 0.5 percent of that amount is used to operate the county. The majority of it, 5.75 percent, goes to the state and the remaining 0.5 percent goes to the Metro Regional Transit Authority.
The 0.75 percent boost would take the total sales tax up to 7 cents on the dollar.
Out of the 88 Ohio counties, Summit and Stark are tied for the lowest county sales tax rate of 0.5 percent. Only three others, Wayne, Lorain and Butler collect less than 1 percent.
County Executive Russ Pry announced his sales tax proposal 2½ weeks ago. He said the additional revenue is needed to help run the county more efficiently. He blames the reduction of other revenue sources for the need, such as cutbacks in state funding and less money collected from property taxes.
Pry said the additional tax increase would generate nearly $20 million annually. Two thirds of the additional revenue would go to public safety issues on jail operations and improvements to the 911 dispatch system and emergency radio system and capital needs. The other one third would go into the 8,500-seat arena in downtown Akron that would house the University of Akron’s basketball program, which would replace the James A. Rhodes arena. The University of Akron Board of Trustees approved the project last month. The new arena would also host other professional events as well as concerts.
County Council will consider the two hearing dates, June 2 and June 9. If approved, the meetings will be open to the public and held in council chambers on the seventh floor of the Ohio Building, 175 S. Main St. (Parking tickets are stamped for free parking if parked in the county parking deck on High Street, across from the Harold Stubbs Justice Center)
The deadline to place the tax hike on the Nov. 4 ballot is Aug. 6.
Marilyn Miller can be reached at 330-996-3098 or firstname.lastname@example.org.