Sales tax levy fails

Michael Lewis

About 78 percent of residents in Portage County voted against raising the sales and use tax. As a result, county employees face potential layoffs, and residents may encounter reductions in county service.

The 0.5 percent tax increase, a raise to 7.25 percent, would have helped sustain county operations and spending by bringing in more than $6 million to the county’s general fund, according to Portage County Auditor Janet Esposito.

The current tax rate of 6.75 percent will continue to be charged to all commercial purchases made in Portage County.

“Our immediate next step will be to look at the budget for 2006,” said Portage County Commissioner Chuck Keiper. “We have been reviewing our budget and determining where cuts have to be made. Right now, the outlook for 2007 is significantly bleaker than 2006.”

Keiper said the commissioner’s office will continue to maintain the services provided by the county for as long as possible. In the future, commissioners will look at all areas and departments to determine where cuts will come from within the county’s budget.

“We may layoff a few people,” Keiper said. “We’ll make all the appropriate cuts and we’ll look at all areas so we can live within the budget the taxpayers provided us.”

Contact public affairs reporter Mike Lewis at [email protected].