Commissioners made correct decision on tax

Trumbull County residents packed the house at two recent public hearings to address the topic of a county sales tax increase being considered by Trumbull County commissioners.

Resident after resident marched to the microphone to voice strong opposition to the possibility of commissioners voting to enact the increase that would have taken the local sales tax from 6.75 percent to 7 percent.

They spoke of challenges of balancing their personal budgets, discussed cuts to their household income and, mostly, called on the commissioners not to impose the additional tax. If commissioners felt the tax was absolutely necessary, the residents implored that they instead put it on the ballot and allow the electorate to decide.

At the end of the day, the commissioners took to heart the recommendations from the public and agreed to hold off on any sales tax increase at this time.

In a statement before Wednesday’s regular meeting, Commissioner Dan Polivka said this:

“The commissioners realize that these are challenging times for families of the county, and the responsibility to make the most out of every county dollar. County government only works when there is that commitment to fiscal responsibility.”

We are pleased the Trumbull commissioners took to heart the voices of the people they serve. We are certain there are areas in which they can tighten their belts and cut spending.

We aren’t quite sure, however, in what areas they think those cuts might be possible, largely because – other than listening patiently to the words of their constituents – none of the three commissioners ever publicly discussed their plans, ideas or thoughts on the sales tax.

When asked, commissioners said they had met individually with the Trumbull County auditor to discuss county finances. While this may be considered legal under Ohio open meetings laws, we wonder why they felt the need to keep their discussions about public funds behind closed doors. The funds they are discussing are not theirs, after all. It is money that belongs to the taxpayers, and those residents should not be kept in the dark.

At the end of the day, we are pleased those discussions led away from the imposed sales tax.

In the future, though, we’d like to hear more about the thought process that ended there.