Sales tax reform impact is discussed

Staff Published:

FINDLAY (AP) -- The impact of Ohio's next two-year budget on sales tax revenue and the county landfill were on the minds of Hancock County's commissioners when they met with area legislators Monday.

State Rep. Robert Sprague and state Sen. Cliff Hite, both Findlay Republicans, met with the commissioners and answered questions about the budget debate.

Gov. John Kasich released his budget plan in February, and it is being debated by the Ohio House. The House version of the budget is due in April.

Kasich has proposed reducing the state income tax and the state sales tax, but increasing the number of service businesses subject to the sales tax.

The governor's budget cuts the state income tax by 20 percent over three years, reduces small business taxes by 50 percent, and decreases the state sales tax from 5.5 percent to 5 percent.

Hite said the governor's budget has been carefully crafted, as he tried to describe the debate now ensuing in Columbus.

"If you start pulling at it, the whole thing starts to unravel," Hite said.

However, it seems the state Legislature does intend to do some pulling, according to the lawmakers.

Most of the discussion with Sprague centered on tax reform. Sprague told the commissioners the idea of expanding the sales tax to the service industry is getting a cool reception.

The commissioners have questioned how the county's current 1 percent sales tax would be affected.

The ability to tax the service industry would be a potential windfall for the county.

Hite said there is a lot of "angst" about taxing the service industry, but said the governor's budget is a challenge to think differently.

On Monday, the commissioners were most focused on a state proposal that would consolidate solid waste districts in Ohio.

Commissioner Phil Riegle said Hancock County has invested heavily in its landfill and has about 30 years of debt on the construction.

The public debt on the landfill allows the commissioners to enforce "flow control" in the county, meaning that trash generated in Hancock County must be dumped in the landfill.

That's a guaranteed revenue stream, Riegle said.

Since 2009, the landfill has taken in 516,938 tons of trash and generated $17 million in revenue.

Should Hancock County be forced to consolidated with other counties, it's unclear how the county could maintain flow control.

Hite said other counties have similar concerns about the proposal.

For now, he said the commissioners may have to wait until details of the plan are known and then argue the county's position.

Riegle said the commissioners want to testify on the proposal once it reaches the Ohio Senate.

Grant: 419-427-8412

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