Summit County kicked off its sales tax campaign Tuesday, with County Executive Russ Pry introducing a new committee and 11 community leaders who will help promote the issue.
The Citizens for a Safe and Successful Summit County will attempt to convince voters to approve a 0.25 percent increase to the sales tax this fall.
The honorary co-chairs are a mix of Democrats and Republicans and business and labor leaders from all over the county.
“It is a group of people who I’ve worked with over the last seven years that I believe know this county has operated in a fiscally prudent manner and know we’ve tried to do what’s in the best interest of this community and that’s what we are going to continue to do with this tax increase,” Pry said during a news conference at the Summit County Emergency Operations Center in Akron.
The co-chairs are:
• Drew Alexander, retired county sheriff.
• Dan Colantone, president and chief executive of the Greater Akron Chamber.
• Bill Considine, chief executive and president of Akron Children’s Hospital.
• Pat Darrow, secretary/treasurer of Teamsters Local 348.
• Joe Kanfer, chief executive and chairman of GOJO Industries.
• Kyle Kutuchief, president of Torchbearers and director of development at the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron.
• Tim Ochsenhirt, former managing partner at Roetzel & Andress.
• Katherine Procop, mayor of Twinsburg.
• Mary Spicer, retired county common pleas judge.
• Vernon Sykes, a Democratic state representative.
• John Wagner, retired head of the Tri-County Labor Council and Barberton City Council member.
The sales tax increase would raise about $20 million a year initially, with the money going toward public safety efforts such as adding staff to the county jail and building an 8,500-seat arena in downtown Akron.
If approved, the sales tax in the county would become 7 percent.
Officials have faced some criticism for including the arena, which would be used by the University of Akron and for other events.
But both Pry and Kutuchief said the facility would not only aid downtown but also help attract and retain talented young professionals, which is one of the goals of the Torchbearers group.
“There’s just an energy in the city that I hope continues,” Kutuchief said.
Pry compared the arena to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. He noted that some people opposed the creation of the park in the 1970s, but it has been a major tourist destination for the community.
The sales tax campaign will include mailers and potentially television ads, Pry said. There also will be a speaker’s bureau available to talk about the issue with any group.
Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or firstname.lastname@example.org.