MIAMI COUNTY — The Miami County Commissioners will hold a second public hearing next week regarding the renewal of a 0.25 percent sales tax for another five years.
At the commissioners’ meeting on Thursday, the first public hearing was held with no public comments. A second public hearing will be held at 9:15 a.m. Tuesday, July 16.
The 0.25 percent sales tax was first approved in 2009. If approved, the renewal of the 0.25 percent sales tax would be effective Oct. 1, 2019.
In 2018, the 0.25 percent sale tax collected $3,593,261 in revenue, which is collected in the general fund and is mainly used to fund the Miami County Communication Center and its operations, according to officials.
The 0.25 percent sales tax applies to every retail sales transaction, with the exception of watercraft and outboard motors, requiring title and sales of motor vehicles.
“This is the second time we’ve renewed this tax levy. Sales tax, I think, is the most fair way to levy a tax in this case because it benefits the 9-1-1 center, particularly, a lot of it goes there, and that’s used by the people coming through our county as well as county residents,” said Commissioner Jack Evans.
Evans said Miami County has some of the lowest sales tax in the area and throughout the state.
“There will be no increase in what people are already paying,” Evans said.
Miami County’s current sales tax is 7 percent, one of the lowest in the state and region. Montgomery and Franklin counties sales tax is 7.5 percent and Cuyahoga County is 8 percent — the highest in the state. The following counties have 7.25 percent sales tax: Preble, Darke, Mercer, Shelby, Auglaize, Logan, Champaign and Clark. Greene County has a 6.75 percent sales tax to date.
Commissioner Greg Simmons said when he ran for office he reviewed the tax, noting it was to sunset after five years and was initially used to fund the purchase of county radio systems.
“Since then and unbeknownst to me at that time, I didn’t realize how much needed it was to 9-1-1. And for me to say now what I said then would be taken back a little bit. I realize with our tax base this is something that is needed for 9-1-1 to continue to operate and for our county to operate in the black, which we have been able to do. I just feel like I have to give an explanation because of what I said in the past,” Simmons said. “I realize that it became something other than what it was meant for from the very beginning …”
Commissioner Ted Mercer said there are 55 counties with higher sales tax rates than Miami County.
“We kept the quality of life here in Miami County very good with keeping our sales tax rate where we need it to be. Right now we feel it needs to continue to be in the 7 percent range,” Mercer said. “So I’m in totally in favor of this renewal.”
Miami County Clerk of Courts Jan Mottinger spoke in support of the renewal during general discussion.
“The 9-1-1 center is, as far as I’m concerned, probably one of the best in the state for a county-wide dispatch system. The money has always been used from the sales tax to operate that, so it benefits everybody in the county,” Mottinger said.
Mottinger also noted the other sales taxes are an additional quarter percent or half percent higher in the area than Miami County. Simmons thanked Mottinger for his comment in support of the renewal.
The second public hearing will be held at 9:15 a.m. July 16 at the commissioners’ chambers located on the first floor of the Miami County Safety Building. Commissioners plan to take action on the renewal following the hearing.
• Commissioners also approved the 2020 county budget. The budget includes the opening of the fourth pod at the Incarceration Facility and the addition of the Safety Building and courthouse security to increase the safety for users, according to the press release. The commissioners will hold budget hearings in the fall with elected officials and department heads to discuss final appropriation requests.
The general fund revenues for 2020 are estimated to be $28,891,824. Requested General Fund expenditures are approximately $35,395,506, which represents a 4 percent increase from 2019. Total revenues in all funds for 2020 is projected to be $88,064,164 and appropriations of $97,266,180.
“2019 has been a challenging year, but it is also one the county can be proud of. We have been fiscally responsible and have accomplished a lot. We look forward to working with the elected officials and department heads in establishing the 2020 budget,” said, Simmons, who serves as president.
“A portion of this requested increase is from the Sheriff (David Duchak) to allow for the opening of the fourth pod in the Incarceration Facility. The sheriff has assured us he will do his best to rent beds, adding needed revenue not accounted for in the revenue estimates,” Evans said.
“As a commissioner, I have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure we work with our elected officials to find a path to a balanced budget in 2020. I am confident, through teamwork, we will accomplish this goal,” Mercer said.
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