Proposed tax on fair events discussed

STEUBENVILLE – Jefferson County commissioners on Thursday discussed the impact of a proposed tax on county fair events and how a telephone pole has shut down a $10 million sewer project.

Commissioners were asked by the county fair board to oppose in writing an item in the state budget proposal to tax fair admissions and service at 5 percent.

Debbie Hukill, county fair board treasurer, said the tax would be passed on to visitors. She said the fair charges $8 per person at the gate and it would be $8.50. She said handing out change could be a problem in getting people quickly through the gates.

County Commissioner Thomas Graham said he is surprised Gov. John Kasich is raising taxes.

County Commissioner Tom Gentile said there are reasons for exceptions to state sales taxes and he believes county fairs should be one.

County Commissioner David Maple said he wants to know the position of the County Commissioners Association of Ohio. Graham sits on the association’s taxation committee.

Hukill said the sales tax on fairs would generate about $13,000 in Jefferson County alone. She believes fairs will lose attendance because of the tax.

“The tax will be cumbersome and hurt the fair,” Hukill said, adding the tax would be charged on campers and other services.

Commissioners also told Shannan Gosbin, county water and sewer department director, to file a formal complaint with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio concerning AT&T failing to timely move a telephone pole that has stopped the final construction on the $10 million Crestview-Belvedere sewer project.

Gosbin said the sewer line on county Road 22A, about a half mile from the U.S. Route 22 exit ramp, has to be dug about 15 feet deep and will be within 4 feet of the telephone pole. Telephone poles are normally stabilized during such construction, but that particular pole already is bent and unstable. She said AT&T was notified in October to replace the pole but no action has been taken. She said the sewer line can’t be tested until that last section is installed. The water and sewer district is losing revenue with the delay because residents can’t connect houses to the sewer line. Gosbin said it would probably be another month before the pole is moved.

Commissioners also will send a letter about another item in the proposed state budget. The Ohio Mid-Eastern Government Association, a local development district for the Governor’s Office of Appalachia, is not included in the budget for $440,000 in funding. Domenick Mucci, a local representative on OMEGA, said the funding is used for projects in the 10-county region making up OMEGA.

Commissioners also:

Were informed by Probate Judge Sam Kerr of the appointment of Timothy Zifzal to the Friendship Park Board and Janice Palmer as a humane agent with the county humane society.

Were told by county Engineer James Branagan the price of asphalt products is down slightly from last year. Commissioners approved several contracts for the purchase of asphalt products for the engineer’s department.

Proclaimed March as Professional Social Work Month in Jefferson County. Several Franciscan University of Steubenville students majoring in social work were at the meeting to accept the proclamation.

Opened three bids for tree removal on county Roads 55, 56 and 68. The county engineer’s department reported the estimate was $40,000. All three bids were well above the engineer’s estimate and will probably have to be rejected.

Appointed Geary Bates to the county regional airport authority.