Commissioners ask for second chance; say they will work hard to pass tax

It will be nearly impossible to run county government without more money, Traficanti said.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Mahoning County Commissioner Anthony T. Traficanti made a plea to county voters Thursday: Give us a second chance.
Traficanti and Commissioners David Ludt and John McNally IV said they will do everything they can to convince voters of the necessity of passing the half-percent sales tax in the May 3 primary.
Commissioners voted last week to put the measure on the ballot. It would be for five years. The sales tax raises about $13 million a year.
Voters turned down renewal of the sales tax twice in 2004 and the tax expired on Dec. 31.
Financial crisis
The county, however, is facing a financial crisis due in part to the loss of sales tax revenue. The county general fund budget this year is $39.9 million, but budget requests from officeholders exceeded $53 million.
Many departments will have to lay off employees, some in the coming weeks, others before the end of the year.
Traficanti, board chairman, told those assembled at the commissioners' weekly meeting, many of them elected officials: "The future of your county government is in your hands. I want to continue services in this county. I want a county jail. I want deputies on patrol. It's a shame people don't understand the magnitude of operating county government."
The county needs more money to operate, and he said he's asking voters "to give us a second chance."
Informing citizens
Traficanti said the commissioners will be out speaking at evening meetings to explain the county's financial situation and urge those attending the meetings to "help us pass the tax."
"Without a consistent financial base, it's almost impossible to run this county," Traficanti said.
He said the commissioners need every elected official to help get the word out over the next eight to nine weeks before the primary election to tell voters "the value their office or department provides to the county."
He added a sales tax committee will be put together, and he will be the first to contribute dollars toward any fund-raising effort to publicly advertise the need for the tax.
"I shall remain positive and let the people know what value they are getting from their county government," Traficanti said.