Sales Tax Increase Vote Looms For Hamilton County Commissioners

Increasing the county sales tax rate from 7.0 to 7.25 percent would help avoid a major budget shortfall.

(Hamilton County, Oh.) - Hamilton County's sales tax could be on the rise.

The county commissioners debated Monday a proposal by county administrator Jeff Aluotto to hike the sales tax to fix a looming $28 million gap in the county’s 2019 budget.

Currently, Hamilton County’s sales tax is 7.0 percent. The increase to 7.25 percent would generate about $38 million in new revenue each year.

If the tax rate is not increased, county departments could be subject to budget cuts up to 17 percent, but Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune has said there is little to nothing left for the county to cut.

Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil said in March that further cuts could lead to floors of the justice center being closed, reduced patrols, and layoffs.

Under Aluotto’s recommendation, the 7.25 sales tax rate in 2019 would fall back to 7.0 percent in 2020 when a quarter-percent tax to renovate Union Terminal expires.

Commissioners have until June 18 to finalize the budget and approve the tax increase directly, or send the proposal to county voters. If the latter, language for the ballot measure would need to be approved by August 8.

If commissioners approve the tax increase themselves, the county would begin collecting revenue in October. If voters happen to be given the option and pass the increase in November, collections would not begin until April 1, 2019, with only an estimated $19 million being collected for 2019.

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