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Tuesday, July 29, 2014
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Published: Wednesday, 11/9/2005

Henry, Hancock counties reject sales tax issues

BY JANE SCHMUCKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Henry County voters overwhelmingly repealed a new sales tax that the county commissioners enacted in the summer, while Hancock County voters decisively defeated a new sales tax that would have benefited law enforcement.

Fulton County's new Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities levy appeared to pass, but those results could change. Final unofficial results showed it winning by a slight margin, but more than enough provisional ballots were cast to swing the balance. The county has about 134 provisional ballots that will not be counted until Nov. 22.

Gloria Marlatt, director of the Fulton County Board of Elections, predicted that about 100 of the provisional ballots would be valid.

In Henry County, Steve Baden, president of the board of commissioners, said the repeal of the sales tax could result in significant cuts.

Brandi Lingruen of Liberty Center, Ohio, signs in to vote yesterday afternoon at the Liberty Center Fire Station. Among issues facing Henry County voters was a sales tax repeal, which they overwhelmingly supported. Brandi Lingruen of Liberty Center, Ohio, signs in to vote yesterday afternoon at the Liberty Center Fire Station. Among issues facing Henry County voters was a sales tax repeal, which they overwhelmingly supported.
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"We may have to come up with $1.5 million worth of cuts from an $8 million budget," he said.

Jim Junge, a former Henry County commissioner, led the effort to repeal the new 0.5 percent sales tax after the county commissioners enacted it without taking the issue to voters.

The tax, which commissioners approved in July, went into effect Oct. 1. It would have collected $1.1 million to $1.2 million a year for county expenses.

But because of last night's repeal, it will come off the tax rolls on April 1 after collecting an estimated $550,000 to $600,000.

Commissioners are expected to consider 25 percent cuts to the budgets of organizations they provide money to, such as the sheriff, emergency medical services, and the cooperative extension service.

Mr. Baden said he thought voters decided to cut services instead of raising taxes in part because they are facing higher fuel costs and uncertainty over the future of the auto industry, which many Henry County residents depend on for their incomes.

In Hancock County, voters did not reinstate a 0.25-percent, five-year sales tax that expired June 30.

"We're just very disappointed," Sheriff Mike Heldman said.

The tax would have generated $2.5 million a year for the county's criminal and administrative justice services.

Sheriff Heldman said he might lay off seven jail employees and one or two road deputies and reduce the number of beds at the jail by 46, including 10 that are rented from Putnam County.

"We have decisions to make," he said.

Fulton County Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Superintendent Brenda Oyer said she was disappointed that her agency's issue was so close.

"I know we have some work ahead of us," she said.

The board asked for an additional 2-mill continuing levy to provide homemaking and personal assistance, primarily for disabled adults who want to move out of their parents' home and live in an apartment or share a home.

Like most area counties, Fulton has a waiting list for such services, which typically range in cost from $5,000 to $122,000 per person, per year, depending on the severity of their disabilities.

Contact Jane Schmucker at:

jschmucker@theblade.com

or 419-337-7780.



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