Ohioans had no problem pulling money out of their wallets last year, and county governments were a big winner.



County sales tax collections rose 7 percent statewide, to $1.5 billion — the biggest one-year jump since well before the Great Recession, according to statistics from the Ohio Department of Taxation.



The increase put a collective smile on the faces of county leaders, who have been complaining for years about declining revenue.



Counties rely heavily on sales tax for their annual budgets.



Summit County collected $38 million, a $1.9 million increase — 5.5 percent — from the previous year.



“I’m thrilled to death we’re moving in the right direction,” Summit County Council President Jerry Feeman said.



The extra money won’t make up for state cuts in local government fund revenue, but it also doesn’t hurt, he said.



Fred Church, deputy budget director with the Ohio Office of Budget and Management, attributed the statewide increase to a general economic recovery.



“2012 was a pretty good year for the state on the whole, and that helped boost the sales tax,” he said.



Stark and Lake counties led Ohio with 136 percent and 68 percent increases, respectively, but those results were skewed by sales tax increases taking effect in April.



Counties at the center of Ohio’s oil and natural gas boom experienced some of the biggest percentage gains: Harrison, a 33 percent jump; and Carroll, a 31 percent increase.



Church suspected that the drilling industry drove that growth.



Among the state’s urban counties, Franklin led Ohio with an 8 percent increase to $146.9 million. Franklin also had the biggest monetary increase at $11 million.



Only one Ohio county saw its sales tax collections decline: Preble declined 6 percent.



Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or rarmon@thebeaconjournal.com.