LIMA — Allen County residents voted against the Allen County Commissioners’ 0.2-percent sales tax increase Tuesday, some believing that the money could be spent in other areas like the school systems and workforce.
The 10-year sales tax increase was initiated by the commissioners in an effort to fund a new Allen County Juvenile Detention Center, renovate the Allen County Courthouse, construct a new County Engineer’s Office and provide annual maintenance funding to maintain the structure of the buildings.
The $3.5 million annual dollars raised from the sales tax would also go towards fixing bridges and roads in Allen County.
Approximately 51 percent (8,152 voters) voters turned it down and 49 percent of voters (7,636 voters) voted in favor. The proposed bill would have required shoppers in Allen County to pay a 6.95 percent sales tax as opposed to the current 6.75 percent rate.
Robert Warren of Elida voted against the tax because he believed that the money raised from a sales tax should go toward other community issues besides infrastructure, roads and bridges.
“I think we are spending too much overseas when the money could be spent at home,” said Warren. “Instead of all of these wars that we are fighting, that money could be used to build infrastructure, put people back to work, reduce taxes and help our school system so that we can give them the funds they need to be productive.”
Brent Bunke, 38, of Shawnee Township, had voted for the sales tax in hopes of the funds providing a opportunity to revitalize Allen County.
“I’m in big support of the county and the roads need to be improved,” said Bunke. “I have faith in our commissioners as well as our county officials, and they need the funds to keep things going.”
Jane Seiling, 77, of Shawnee Township, also hoped that the sales tax would pass because she felt that were was a great need to repair many of hazardous streets in Allen County.
“I drive on Cole Street four times a week, and the road is not only an embarrassment, but is also unsafe,” said Seiling. “I just got back from New York and there was not a road like that there. I hope that the sales tax passes so we too can have better roads.”
Although the sales tax did not pass, the commissioners agreed they did all that they could to educate the community about the current issues. Going forward, they do not plan to run the issue again on another ballot, but will use the funds they currently have to fix the current issues that they highlighted.
“I hope that we showed that the need is there,” said Commissioner Jay Begg. “Unfortunately, with the people who came out to vote, we didn’t get the majority vote. We have plan B in place, but it’s going to take a lot more money to do what we can with the plans. We don’t have any regret, and we did everything we could do to educate the voters.”
Reach Camri Nelson at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @CamriNews.