Summit County voters may see sales tax increase on November ballot

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Summit County voters may be asked to OK a one-quarter of 1 percent sales tax increase this November, from .5 percent to .75 percent.

According to an April 23 release from Executive Russ Pry's office, County Council next month will consider legislation to put the issue on the ballot.

Although the county has cut as much spending and personnel as possible, "the economic needs of the county have become too pressing to simply cut further without additional revenue," the release stated.

The county's total budget has been reduced from $576.6 million in 2008 to $478.4 million this year, but state funding has been steadily reduced each year since 2007, the release states.

The tax increase would generate $19 million to $20 million annually. Much of the new revenue would be used for operation and maintenance of the county jail, and upgrading the county's 911 dispatch system and 800MHz emergency radio system.

"By focusing the lion's share of the additional revenue on the public safety and capital needs of the county, we are addressing critical issues that serve all of the communities and residents," Pry said in the release.

The balance of the new revenue, $7 million annually, would be used to fund the development and construction of a new $80 million, 8,500-seat arena for The University of Akron basketball team and other community and sporting events which can't fit in any other existing county venues. The facility would be near Canal Park in downtown Akron.

"The arena carries the potential to create both construction and ongoing jobs in our community and continue the revitalization of downtown Akron and the University of Akron, which is beneficial for all of the communities in our county," Pry said.

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