Hamilton County, Ohio, home to the Cincinnati metropolitan area, is considering raising sales tax. The county commissioners would like to raise the tax by 0.25 cents in order to raise $38 million, which they say is desperately needed. The county commissioners are currently deciding on whether to raise the tax or not, and if so, whether to do it by direct vote or leave it up to the people at the polls. A recent editorial in Cincinnati.com discusses the details:
Hamilton County General Fund
A staggering 70% or so of the county's general fund is spent on county employee compensation and benefits. The county is also burdened by the fact that most of the sales tax it collects is dedicated to Cincinnati's two riverfront stadiums instead of the its general fund. This leaves little funding available for a plethora of other pressing needs.
Real Problems in the Cincinnati Area
Hamilton County currently faces "A Cacophony of Problems", according to the article. These include a rising heroin epidemic and its resulting costs, an aging and crumbling infrastructure, competition elsewhere for jobs and economic development and the need for updated technology throughout the county.
Other Ways to Raise Money?
The county commission is also considering other ways to raise money, including the sale of existing properties, deferring maintenance, laying off staff and budget cutting. But the county commissioner said recently that there is little left to sell and that that there are no "Big chunks of budget fat to be cut". Nonetheless, the editorial states the belief that the county should "first perform all the necessary due diligence on ways to fill the budget deficit" before they consider raising the sales tax. They summarize by stating that increasing the sales tax burden on county residents should be a matter of last resort.