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Proposed county budget calls for sales tax increase


Hamilton County Commissioners are considering the administration's proposed budget for next year.

Most notably, County administrator Christian Sigman's $210.7 million proposal calls for a quarter cent sales tax increase.

"Of the new revenue generated," says Sigman, "53 percent is estimated to come from county residents and 47 percent from non-county residents. {The} 2015 recommended budget proposes that the entire amount of additional taxes levied on county residents be directed to property tax relief. This would equate to a savings of $38 per year per $100,000 home."

The proposed increase would go to voters in May if commissioners agree to the plan. A sales tax increase seems unlikely to pass muster with the board, even if it does include reducing property taxes.

Board president Chris Monzel is generally opposed to tax increases. His office says his inclination is not to support this idea but says he wants to thoroughly vet all aspects of the budget proposal.

Referencing the stadium sales tax, Commissioner Greg Hartmann says it's important to keep in mind, "the somewhat cynical view of taxpayers that have been promised property tax reductions for sales taxes in the past which is certainly something I think we need to confront publicly in this discussion."

Commissioner Todd Portune calls the idea "a bold proposal" and suggests the board may want to hold an additional public hearing once members make their changes.

In proposing the sales tax idea, Sigman points out Hamilton County has the lowest sales tax rate of Ohio's five largest urban counties.

Sigman says the proposal represents a right-sized county budget. It's a 1.5 percent increase over 2014 projected expenditures.

It includes three scenarios for taking ownership of the former Mercy Mt. Airy site to build a new coroner's office and relocate other county offices. The county's 800 MHz public safety radio system, considered technically obsolete, would be replaced.

The proposal also includes an alternative general fund budget which does not include the sales tax increase. It calls for $10.2 million in cuts across county departments including $1.9 million in wage increases and nearly $2.6 million in cuts to the Sheriff's department.

Commissioners will now make their own adjustments.

Three public hearings are set for later this month:

  • October 23 at 6:30 pm at the Green Township Trustee's Main Meeting Room
  • October 29 at 11:30 am at County Administration building
  • October 30 at 6:30 pm at the Sycamore Township administration building.

The board aims to vote on a final budget by Thanksgiving.
Here are the three scenarios for utilizing the Mt. Airy facility:

Click for a larger image or see page 7 of the proposed budget in link above.