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Conveyance fee aces voters on Tuesday

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:09 PM

All Huron County voters will get the chance to either approve or reject a $1 increase in the real estate conveyance fee in Tuesday's primary and some voters also will get to put in their two-cents worth on Sunday liquor sales and additional school taxes.

Voters in Bronson precinct No. 2 will decide whether to allow Sunday liquor sales at Eagle Creek Golf Course.

Voters in the Willard and Plymouth-Shiloh school districts will decide on an additional one-mill continuing property levy for Pioneer Joint Vocational School.

According to the Richland County auditor's office, the levy would raise millage for Pioneer to 5.7 and cost the owner of a $100,000 home an additional $35 each year prior to statutory deductions.

The increase in Huron County's conveyance fee was put on the ballot after Norwalk resident Jim Sitterly garnered more than 3,000 signatures on 70 petitions.

"The state is trying to nickel and dime us to death," said Sitterly when he began his petition campaign. "And now the county commissioners are, too. We need to send our commissioners a message."

He said the amount the county has received from the fee already has risen with inflation as property prices have increased.

It also will discourage business, he said, by adding to the cost for a company to come into the county or buy more land to expand operations.

Sitterly said businesses are becoming more competitive and cutting their profit margins to keep going, but facing higher taxes.

"The writing's on the wall unemployment, home foreclosures, tax delinquencies," Sitterly said. "That's surely a sign of troubling times. We don't need higher taxes."

Commissioners voted to raise the fee last fall, pledging to use one-quarter of the money to promote tourism and three-quarters for economic development. Commissioners estimated it would raise between $50,000 and $60,000 each year.

The state allows county commissioners to charge up to $4 per $1,000 of a property's value when it is sold. Huron County currently charges $2 and commissioners tried to up that to $3 last fall. Commissioner Mike Adelman said the board looked at seven other counties in the area before voting for the increase and they already charged the maximum of $4 per thousand.

James C. Wiedenheft, executive director of the Huron County Development Council, said the increase proposed by the commissioners would benefit the county and wouldn't cost an extra penny for most people.

"Only the seller of the property will incur this small fee at the time of closing along with all other closing costs," he said. "The sale of an average home valued at $125,000 will incur about 10.8 percent in total closing costs and fees for an amount of about $13,500. The passing of this referendum would increase the transfer fee by $125."

Wiedenheft said Huron County is one of only three Ohio counties that already gives a break to anyone who has been granted a homestead exemption anyone 65 or older or with proof of a disability because commissioners voted to forgive $1 of the fee for those people in 2000.

"This small fee would be used by Huron County to attract new businesses to Huron County. More jobs tend to raise property values," Wiedenheft said. "Please vote 'Yes for Jobs' on the referendum."

The board of elections has spent several weeks getting ready for the primary.

Sharon Locke, deputy director for the county board of elections, said staff tested voting machines earlier this week.

"We vote every position on the ballot and make sure it is tabulating for everybody," she said, adding that the office has just enough poll workers to have four at each of the county's 52 precincts.

Locke said voting machines will be delivered Monday and poll workers will be on the job about 5:30 a.m. Tuesday to prepare the machines. Polls open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m.

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