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Petition drive about tax hike gaining momentum

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:00 PM

Jim Sitterly said the response to his campaign to gather 2,000 signatures to put an increase in the county's real estate conveyance fee before the voters is "overwhelming."

"We must have taken in 800 names since we began Friday," Sitterly said.

Sitterly and his supporters have until Nov. 25 to turn in petitions.

Huron County commissioners passed a resolution on Oct. 25 to increase the amount collected when property is sold from $2 per thousand to $3 per thousand. Ohio law allows commissioners to charge up to $4 per thousand.

Huron County only charged $1 per thousand until commissioners raised it to $2 in 2000. Commissioner Mike Adelman said seven surrounding counties already charge $4 per thousand.

The county has been collecting about $120,000 per year with the tax and Adelman said the increase should bring in another $50,000 to $60,000 a year. Commissioners have promised to give 75 percent of the increase to the Huron County Development Council for economic development and to use the other 25 percent to promote tourism.

"The signatures are steadily coming in," Sitterly said. "We will overwhelm them with the signatures at the rate it is going."

He added that he is looking for people to distribute petitions in Plymouth, Willard and New London. He asked that anyone interested call him at (419) 668-4218.

Sitterly said the county's argument that this tax is only paid by those buying property doesn't make a difference. "This tax has climbed with inflation," he said. "It has increased with all of the new homes that have been built, not to mention the fact that it is up 200 percent in just seven years."

Sitterly said he was heartened by the response he has seen in the first week of his campaign. "People need to go to norwalkreflector.com and put their comments in so the rest of the county can know how they feel," he said.

Mike Myers, owner of Mike Myers Realty Inc., has joined in Sitterly's campaign.

"I don't think the tax increase is necessary, especially at this time," Myers said. "With the housing market the way it is, I think its a terrible to hit housing with more taxes."

He said the housing market has been in a slump.

Myers said he has seen an "excellent" response to the petitions. "I've had only one person say no," he said, "they just didn't want to get involved."

Myers said he has a petition available in his office and he is also soliciting signatures outside of the office. He estimated that he has collected about 75 signatures. Several Realtors that work for his office are also collecting signatures.

"There's nothing fairer than letting the voters decide," Myers said.

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