FINDLAY - For the second time, Hancock County voters turned down a 0.25 percent increase in the local sales tax yesterday, although a new operating levy for senior citizen services was approved.
County commissioners were seeking a sales tax increase in an attempt to shore up the county's financial outlook. While commissioners admitted the tax would generate more money than the county needed, they had hoped to start a savings account for capital improvements needed at many of the county's buildings.
Newly elected Commissioner Phillip Riegle said last night that he was "a little surprised" by the vote.
"We'll just have to see what we can do in the budget next year and see where the numbers lie," said Mr. Riegle, who was unopposed in his bid for commissioner.
The five-year sales tax hike would have raised an estimated $2.7 million a year - half of which was to go toward county operations and the other half to capital improvements. Prior to the election, commissioners said that if the measure failed, they would be forced to trim at least $700,000 from next year's budget - cuts that would likely dip into county services.
Voters had rejected a similar sales tax increase last November. Some had hoped its chances were better this time around after commissioners cut about $1 million from the budget.
Voters were more supportive of the Hancock County Agency on Aging's request for a 0.6-mill levy to take the place of an existing 0.4-mill levy that expires at the end of the year. The new levy will bring in about $834,000 a year.
"We're pleased with the results," said John Urbanski, executive director of the Hancock County Agency on Aging. "We hope to continue to be good stewards of the county's money and take care of the seniors for the next five years."
Mr. Urbanski said the proceeds would be used to run the agency's chore service and mobile meals program and pay for some badly needed building repairs, including a new roof, a new heating and air-conditioning system, and blacktop in the parking lot. The levy will cost the owner of a $100,000 home $18.34 a year.
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