COG must find efficiencies, not new taxes

Is anyone surprised that the minute the new Trumbull County Council of Governments officially was formed last week, some members immediately started thinking of ways to increase taxes on residents?

First up, they are predictably discussing asking commissioners to increase the countywide sales tax.

We won’t be surprised if consideration of increased license plate fees or other potential revenue generating taxes and fees isn’t far behind.

The council was formed to help smaller townships take on larger projects by enabling the sharing of resources from all members in the council. That sounds good on the surface.

About 20 communities out of the 32 in Trumbull County were represented at last week’s meeting, where the group passed its bylaws and elected officers. Representatives attended from Niles, Howland, Warren Township, Champion, Brookfield, Newton Falls, Hubbard City and Township, Farmington, West Farmington, Bloomfield, Kinsman, Mesopotamia, Vernon, Gustavus, Hartford, Liberty, Southington and Weathersfield. The Trumbull County engineer’s office and Trumbull County commissioners are also members.

Just as predicted, the group also now is discussing the need for people to run the organization. Initially, they need an executive director and a fiscal officer, both roles that are required by the Ohio Revised Code in order to register with the state to become legitimate. They promise to look for ways to create those positions that are cost effective, but they haven’t ruled out the possibility that personnel costs could come with creation of such positions.

The core reason for this new collaboration initially was sold as an opportunity for communities to work together to share resources in order to increase efficiencies and save money — not to find ways to create more government needing more taxes and a new pot of taxpayer money.

It was these very issues that triggered our reluctance to this group’s formation that we previously expressed in this space.

The negative results of local levy passage attempts in recent elections should speak loudly to commissioners and organizers of this COG. Say no to new taxes and find other ways to buy materials collectively at lower rates or share resources like publicly owned equipment, personnel or even intellectual property.

Shared efforts would be welcomed by taxpayers. New taxes will not.