In the middle of digging out from back-to-back snowstorms over the past week, you may have missed the fact that Columbiana County Commissioners voted to place the renewal of the 1 percent county sales tax back on the May 4 primary ballot.
This time, commissioners hope the new proposed ballot language will eliminate any voter confusion over whether the tax is a renewal. Commissioners believe misleading ballot language contributed to the tax's 63 percent-to-37-percent defeat in the November 2009 general election. Nowhere in the ballot language did it state the sales tax was either a renewal or continuation of an existing tax.
The measure adopted Wednesday by commissioners includes proposed ballot language stating the tax is "a continuation of an existing 1 percent sales tax." The proposed ballot language must be approved by the Ohio Secretary of State's office.
The two county tea party groups remain split on their stand on the tax. The Tri-County Tea Party group has endorsed the tax, calling it the fairest form of taxation because it is paid by everyone, not just property owners. The Ohio Valley Tea Party group, however, has continued to voice strong opposition to the tax.
Opposing the tax is one thing; That is anyone's right. But the leader of the Ohio Valley Tea Party continues to impart misinformation about the tax. Pastor Duke Bennett, in a recent letter to the editor, and in several TV interviews continues to call the 1 percent sales tax a tax increase. He goes on to say he, too, considers the sales tax to be the fairest tax, but "we just can't afford any more taxation."
Let's set the record straight once and for all. The issue on the ballot is the same 1 percent sales tax we have been paying in Columbiana County for years. It is NOT an increase. To continue to call it a tax increase is just perpetuating a lie and causes everyone to question the credibility of the entire Ohio Valley Tea Party group.
We also continue to believe that the sales tax is the fairest tax and we also feel it is necessary to adequately fund the services vital to operating our county government.