Commissioners discuss sales tax increases in Ohio

STEUBENVILLE – Jefferson County commissioners on Wednesday were informed the sales tax in the county will be going up 0.25 percent on Sept. 1.

The state Legislature voted to increase the state sales tax to 5.75 percent. Coupled with the county’s 1.5 percent sales tax, purchases made in Jefferson County will have a 7.25 percent sales tax.

County Commissioner Tom Gentile expressed some displeasure with the announcement.

Gentile said the state’s budget surplus has grown to $1.5 billion, the state has taken money away from local governments and then is raising the state sales tax.

The Ohio Department of Taxation is mailing postcards to all taxpayers and sending out e-mail alerts to businesses.

Commissioners also reached an agreement with the Edison Local School District that will result in money savings to the school district for watering playing fields at the high school. The school district was paying a monthly minimum water bill of $134 a month for a 2-inch meter. Commissioners agreed to waive the minimum monthly rate and charge the district the bulk water rate of $7.50 per 1,000 gallons of water.

Bill Beattie, school district superintendent, said the playing fields are only watered during the playing season.

County Commissioner David Maple said he wants the water and sewer department to develop a policy on how similar requests will be handled in the future. The water and sewer department is currently updating all its policies.

County Commissioner Thomas Graham noted the county is allowed by law to help out school districts by charging a bulk rate instead of the minimum monthly rate.

Maple commended the school district for trying to save money.

Commissioners also rejected bids received last week for a Community Development Block Grant project for sidewalk replacement in Rayland, Richmond and Adena because two of the three companies submitting bids didn’t include necessary paperwork.

The engineer’s estimate was $109,558. D&L Unlimited of Wintersville bid $98,838, while E. Mullins of Bloomingdale bid $104,017, and both didn’t submit required forms. John Russell Construction of Steubenville bid $172,326. Domenick Mucci, county Regional Planning Commission director, said the bids need to be rejected and the project rebid.

Commissioners again discussed getting professional help in how county and private offices will be located in the Towers on Market Street.

The Veterans Services Commission wants to move out of its building on North Street to the Towers. Graham said the office is interested in locating on the third floor of the Towers.

Maple said he wants a floor plan of the entire building to help in locating offices.

Gentile said he wants to the Veterans Services Commission out of its building by winter so the county doesn’t have to pay to heat the building.

The commissioners also approved $33,958 in attorney fees in July for indigent criminal defendants.