Lorain County residents may have noticed things cost just a bit more at the cash register over the past few days.
On April 1, the county sales tax increased 0.25 percent, from 6.5 percent to 6.75 percent.
The controversial decision to increase the sales tax was made by county commissioners in late 2016 to raise an estimated additional $9.5 million per year and plug a $5.1 million deficit.
In the November election, county voters soundly defeated the increase at the polls by a 74 percent to 26 percent margin.
After several discussions, the commissioners voted to override the results of the vote by a 2-1 margin, with Ted Kalo and Lori Kokosi voting in favor of it. Matt Lundy dissented, citing a 2014 election promise not to impose a tax.
Without the increase, county officials believed severe cuts would need to take place. Layoffs could potentially have been made in several departments including the auditor’s office, coroner’s office, county recorder, commissioners’ office, prosecutor’s office, sheriff’s office, or the treasure’s office, according to county administrator Jim Cordes.
Cordes said the courts and adult probation and veterans services are mandated services that are exempt from cuts. Mandated services encompass about 74 percent of the budget.
While many residents railed against the proposed increase, Kalo noted that Lorain County is the ninth largest of Ohio’s 88 counties but was in the bottom four for sales tax collections.
At 6.5 percent, Lorain County was tied with three other counties for the lowest sales tax in Ohio.
Neighboring Cuyahoga County has an 8 percent sales tax, while Huron County’s rate is 7.25 percent.
Lorain County residents haven’t approved a sales tax increase since 1994.
An initiative to collect enough signatures to give voters the opportunity to rescind the commissioners’ decision to increase the sales tax, which would have prevented the increase from taking place until November, fell through earlier this year.