Richland County sales tax revenue plummets, inflation could be a factor

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The slowdown in the national economy that has been caused by recent rapid inflation may now affect Richland County sales tax revenues. Commissioners Chairman Tony Vero told Tuesday’s board meeting that sales tax revenue fell between March and April this year, although it is still higher across the board. together compared to the same period in 2021.

Vero said year-to-date numbers at the end of March were 14.5% higher than the same period last year. However, the year-to-date figure at the end of April was only 11.72% higher than the first four months of 2021.

Vero noted that the numbers don’t include sales tax revenue from internet purchases, which the Ohio Department of Taxation still hasn’t provided since the online tax was first collected. times in 2019. He also pointed out that sales tax distribution lags collection by three months, which means that Q1 2022 revenue represents collections in October, November and December.

“There are certainly reasons to be concerned about the slowing economy,” Vero said. “These April receipts also represent 2022 sales from January, so they would certainly appear to be tracking inflation as we head into 2022. I’m watching it closely.”

As for spending, Vero said the county is “doing well.” Spending through the end of April was 32% of appropriations, compared to 31.6% for the first four months of 2021, which he added was “about on pace”.

New starting salary set for assistants and correctional officers

The commissioners also formalized a retention plan that was discussed last week when the board allocated up to $600,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds to retain deputies and corrections officers and attract new staff to the sheriff’s office. Under the plan, current employees and new hires who have worked for the department for at least six months will receive retention allowances of $1,250 at the end of December, with similar payments to be made at the end of June and December 2023 and the end of June. 2024.

Commissioners voted on Tuesday to approve a memorandum of understanding with the union representing assistants and correctional officers that authorizes the bonus payment retention allowance and also includes a new severance rate for those two groups. The new hourly rate will be $25.50 this year, $26.27 next year and $27.05 in 2024. The old starting salary was $21.72.

“It took us going back to the union and negotiating the severance rates which was done in a memorandum of understanding and they also agreed on the amount of the bonus retention allowance,” said Kelley Christiansen, county director of human resources.

Christiansen said the new pay rates affect assistants hired after the official execution of the memorandum of understanding and those who are still on probation. Everyone else who is already at the assistant level is at their best rate and will receive raises based on their contract.

Vero emphasized that stipends will be paid with ARPA funds and salary increases will come from the salary line of the Sheriff’s 2022 General Fund Budget.

Commissioners approve removal of tower

Commissioners also authorized the removal of a large portion of a 90ft former communications and law enforcement tower on South Union Street in Lucas, including the center tower structure, the building that housed communications equipment and a generator. Sheriff’s Captain Jim Sweat said the old VHF radio equipment would be retained “for the foreseeable future.”

Richland County received a $400,000 state grant last year to help pay about two-thirds of the cost to build and equip a new MARCS (Multi-Agency Radio Communications System) of 330 feet and a building to house the radio equipment at the Lucas site. The new tower will improve law enforcement communications as well as cellular and broadband services through a sublease with Verizon Wireless.

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