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The Suburbanite
  • Stark County sales tax increases on Sunday

  • Starting Sunday, Stark County’s sales and use tax rate will rise from 5.75 percent to 6.25 percent. Of the rate, the state already receives 5.5 percent and the Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (SARTA) receives 0.25 percent. The county’s portion of 0.50 percent, which was approved by voters in November, will be designated for criminal justice operations.

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  • That adult Easter Bunny costume you may have been eyeing at Marsino’s Costumes will be cheaper if you buy it before Sunday. After that, it will cost you an extra $2 just in taxes.
    Five months after voters approved hiking Stark County’s sales tax by 0.50 percent, area businesses will begin charging the higher rate. The increase affects anyone who shops in Stark County or any Stark County resident who buys a vehicle in or out of the county. Groceries, prescriptions and newspapers are not taxed.
    HIGHER RATE
    Beginning Sunday, Stark County’s total sales and use tax rate will rise from 5.75 percent to 6.25 percent. Of the rate, the state receives 5.5 percent and the Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (SARTA) receives 0.25 percent.
    The higher tax equates to an extra 50 cents on every $100 spent in Stark County. Leaders of last year’s sales tax campaign had estimated that Stark County residents would pay an additional $60 a year or 16 cents a day under the new rate, a figure they based on Stark County’s adult population and the number of out-of-county shoppers who likely pay the tax.
    It will be another three months before Stark County government leaders will see the higher receipts deposited in county coffers, due to a delay between when the state collects the tax and it remits the receipts to the county.
    County budget officials have projected the sales tax will generate roughly $11 million this year and $22 million annually until the eight-year tax expires. The money will be put into an account that’s designated for criminal justice operations and is separate from the county’s main operating fund.
    Commissioners have budgeted $6.5 million of the $11 million for the Stark County’s Sheriff’s office, so the sheriff can restore his operations to where the department stood before he laid off 41 employees and closed roughly 200 inmate beds in the county jail.
    Vivianne Duffrin, human resource director for the Stark County Sheriff’s Office, said since the sales tax passed in November, the sheriff’s office has hired six deputies and two dispatchers. Two more deputies are expected to start April 12. She said the department plans to hire 25 more employees this year, including more deputies, dispatchers, corrections officers and clerks.
    HIGHER COLLECTIONS?
    County Auditor Alan Harold has been monitoring sales tax collections in other Ohio counties. He said  he believes the county could collect more than the $11 million projected. He said collections in counties with vigorous oil and gas drilling activity have been trending 15 percent higher compared to 2011. Other counties’ collection are up by roughly 3 percent compared to 2011, Harold said.
    But county departments — most of which saw at least a 10 percent reduction to their general-fund budgets this year — shouldn’t necessarily count on more revenue this year, Harold said.
    Page 2 of 2 - “My recommendation would be that if the money comes in higher, it’s not allocated this year and it is held as carryover for next year,” said Harold, noting that commissioners make the ultimate decision on budgeting. “We know (2013) is already going to be tough ... due to lower revenue from the (property) reappraisal and further cuts to the local government fund.”
    Even with the increased sales tax rate, Stark County, which currently is the only county in Ohio without a sales tax to fund central government operations, will continue to have the lowest sales tax in Ohio at 6.25 percent. It will share the distinction with three other counties. Lake County, whose largest city is Mentor, currently stands at the 6.25 percent rate, but its rate will increase to 6.75 percent, beginning Sunday.

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