Increase sale tax only after cuts

DEAR EDITOR:

The Trumbull County Budget Review Committee recommends that the Trumbull County commissioners do not raise the county sales tax unless 18 other recommendations are satisfactorily advanced.

There is a high probability that advancing these 18 recommendations will take many years, if they are ever satisfactorily implemented. Therefore, Trumbull County citizens may have been misled by Tribune Chronicle coverage that included a story headlined, “Panel urges new jobs, tax increase,” and a first sentence that reads, “Recommendations from a citizen budget review committee suggest Trumbull County raise the sales tax …”

Page two of the committee’s seven-page report states, “The committee feels that it is imperative to curtail costs whenever possible prior to any increase in the sales tax rate.” The report goes on to outline many ways the county can save money.

The committee even points out, “Commissioners should tread carefully when increasing the sales tax because of its repercussions — most recently documented in a draft report prepared by experts from the Federal Review Board and the Kent State University Department of Economics — on private sector employment, payroll and hiring.”

The 19th of 19 recommendations calls for a sales tax increase “upon sufficient implementation of the above recommendation” underlined in the report for emphasis.

There has also been concern about the budget committee meeting in private and ignoring a directive from a Trumbull County Commissioner to meet in public.

The committee members agreed to take an independent view of county finances and objectively assess the need to raise taxes. If the committee is bound to open meeting laws, that means the committee is an arm of the county government. Such a distinction would compromise any notion of independence or objectivity. Likewise, if the committee were to take orders from commissioners or any other government official on how to conduct its meetings, that too would negate its independence and objectivity.

The committee successfully kept an arm’s length from the influences of county government and provided citizens truly independent recommendations.

MIKE MATAS

Chairman

Trumbull County Budget Review Committee

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