Enough is enough

Jim Sitterly has had enough of rising taxes he's starting a petition drive to put the recent raise in the real estate conveyance fee before the voters. But Sitterly faces a daunting task. He must get about 2,000 county residents who voted in Ohio's 2006 general election to sign petitions in the next three weeks. "I'm very confident that if this is put before the voters it will not pass," the Norwalk resident said.
Norwalk Reflector Staff
Jul 25, 2010


Jim Sitterly has had enough of rising taxes he's starting a petition drive to put the recent raise in the real estate conveyance fee before the voters.

But Sitterly faces a daunting task. He must get about 2,000 county residents who voted in Ohio's 2006 general election to sign petitions in the next three weeks.

"I'm very confident that if this is put before the voters it will not pass," the Norwalk resident said.

Huron County Commissioners passed a resolution last week to raise the fee, which Sitterly sees as just another tax, from $2 to $3 for every $1,000 of a property's value. That means the buyer of a $100,000 home will now have to pay an extra $100 for a total $300 conveyance fee.

Sitterly said he has only a month from the time the resolution was approved to get the necessary signatures. The resolution was signed on Oct. 25, giving Sitterly until Nov. 25 to turn in his petitions.

"The state is trying to nickel and dime us to death," said Sitterly, "and now the county commissioners are, too. We need to send our commissioners a message.

"I think if they wanted to be really stand-up guys, they should have put it before the voters in these troubling times," he said.

The state allows county commissioners to approve a conveyance fee of up to $4 per thousand. Commissioner Mike Adelman said last week that commissioners checked with several surrounding counties before approving the increase and most are already at the $4 limit.

The fee was $1 in Huron County until 2000, when commissioners raised it to $2.

Sitterly said an increase of 200 percent in just seven years is too much. He said the amount the county has received from the fee has already risen with inflation as homes and property prices have increased.

"This is just one more way to keep the younger people from buying a home in Huron County," Sitterly said.

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

Sitterly is going to local Realtors to help collect signatures. He said Mike Myers, Tom Shaffoe and Jay Ewell have already agreed to help with petitions. He plans to contact realtors in other areas such as Bellevue and Willard also. Maple City Saw and Mower on Pleasant Street will also collect signatures, Sitterly said.

The resolution approving the increase said money raised by the increase will be used at the discretion of the commissioners, but Huron County Commissioner Gary Bauer said the commissioners have agreed that 75 percent will go to the Huron County Development Council and 25 percent will be spent on tourism.

"I was initially opposed to the tax," Bauer said. He decided to vote for it after every person at two public hearings supported the tax. Eleven people attended the first public hearing and 15 attended the second.

Adelman said many people attending the meetings were connected either to the county or Norwalk, Willard, New London and Monroeville governments or development boards or agencies, but several private citizens also attended.

Thomas Jarrett, who owns the Norwalk Antique Mall located downtown on Main Street, attended one of the public hearings and came away supporting the increase.

"I think it's going to help Norwalk overall," he said, because the money raised with the increase will be used for tourism and economic development.

"Being a business owner on Main Street, I supported it," he said. "I think it will bring tourism to Norwalk."

Jarrett said he has seen a publication on the turnpikes and other major roads that promotes many attractions in the area, but includes nothing about Norwalk. "I think we need something like that," he said.

He said he advertises in a publication available near Lake Erie and has gotten some response to those ads.

The conveyance fee has brought in about $120,000 per year recently and should collect another $50,000 to $60,000 with the increase.


Jacobs (Anonymous)

It's basically a Norwalk tax people!! Why do I need to support a Norwalk tax when I live in Plymouth? Fix your own problems and let us deal with ours. I'm sure Norwalk people are going to be all for boosting tourism and business base in Plymouth. If you haven't noticed, most communities in the county are looking to pass levies to keep their schools afloat or soon will be. The taxpaying public needs to have a say in this instead of blindsiding us like just happened.

Agreed (Anonymous)

I with you, Purpose. Let's take a look at the big picture in benefits to a county that needs an economic boost.

JEF (Anonymous)

newshound wrote: '...old Woolworth building...' County offices and unless I'm mistaken, not-for-profits (St. Paul & Fisher Titus) don't pay property taxes. Having more government buildings in a downtown locale tends to be the sign of economic decline.

JEF (Anonymous)

The economics tend to be REAL SIMPLE - if you want less of something increase taxes on it, if you want more of something tax it less. If raising taxes were a good thing there'd be a whole lot more people smokin' cigarettes!

JEF (Anonymous)

Agreed wrote: 'Let's take a look at the big picture in benefits to a county that needs an economic boost.' Contrary to what some leftist politicians would have us believe, the economics of taxing one's way to prosperity has never been proven. Conversely, if the commission voted to DECREASE or eliminate the tax, they could potentially use that as an economic benefit as well as a selling point for people to move their families and businesses TO Huron Co.

retired (Anonymous)

As far as the 'old Woolworth building' goes, real estate taxes are paid as long as the county rents or leases the building. So, if I'm correct, since the building is rented to a business taxes are paid.

Comish (Anonymous)

you will not stop this tax at all because it is a DONE DEAL. the county needs money. this is a way to make easy money for the county for much needed salaries and fringe benefits. shove that petition where the sun dont shine cuz that is all the good itll do. you will not stop this tax because you are out of options. dont forget to vote this tuesday dummies

Number 1 (Anonymous)

Lets ALL stand behind this man and let the commisioners see just how many names are on this petition!!! Are you ready newshound?

Thomas (Anonymous)

It is never a good idea to give ANY government entity ANY additional money. At the very least they should show us exactly what the money will be used for and let us vote on it. On the other hand, the people that will be paying this tax can probably afford it.

Ugh (Anonymous)

There are lots of good arguments on both sides of this coin, but please don't lose focus of the petition. Its not to get rid of the tax as Mr. Sitterly said, its just to put it on a ballot. I think the short cross section of discussion displayed here is huge indicator that this should be on the ballot. I think any time your asking anyone to give up more money without 1. telling us exactly what your plans are and 2. letting us vote on it to decide if we want to give it to the government.... well, to me that is pretty much "taxation without representation" which I seem to recall was kind of an important philosophy in founding some important entity a couple hundred years ago.

swiss family......

i agree with Mr. Sitterly, we should be given the choice if we want our taxes to go up or not.. go, man go . this is what makes America so great..

I agree Ugh (An...

but we also need to focus on why people do not patronize the uptown businesses like I stated in an earlier post with the parking problems etc.

Let the Commiss...

Why have County Commissioners if every decision needs to be presented to the voters. The sad reality is that many of the voters would not understand this tax and would make an uninformed decision at the polls. The industry that is being taxed will inevitably see a great benefit from the dollars invested in Economic expansion and retention.

Ugh (Anonymous)

Every decision does not need to go the polls, but there is a HUGE difference between asking for more money and simply deciding to take more money. I think once they start deciding what we should pay without asking us, that crosses the line and sets a dangerous precedent. You may even agree with this new tax, I personally can see both sides, but still just upping taxes with no vote goes over the line of their perceived responsibility. They should present a general plan for money, send it to a vote, and, if it passes, then let them work out the details of how to execute the plan.

Jim Sitterly (A...

We are not talking about every issue. I am talking about one issue. When we the people connot voice our opinions then all hope is lost.Also when you think the mentality of the average person is lower than yours or the commissioners then maybe you should worry about this tax. Also as we speak,the State of Ohio is in the process of raising this so called fee from 4 to 6 dollars. Heaven knows though they would not raise it to six. If you believe that I have some swamp land that I will make you a great deal on.

Jim Sitterly (A...

The response has been overwheling. Let the voice of the people be heard.

Tax or Fee??? (...

I can understand the need for a public election should this be a tax affecting all or most of the County's citezenry. However this is more like a fee on a particular sale rather on a than an actual tax.

Ugh (Anonymous)

It's called a "Conveyance Fee", but it is based on the value of the property changing hands, so it is in fact a tax on the transfer of property. Really no different than if you have ever transferred the title of a car in a personal sale. To wit, it affects anyone buying or selling a home or real estate which may not affect everyone in the immediate future, buy it will affect nearly everyone in the foreseeable future. Plus, the more dangerous part, is it sets a horrible precedent. What if the aforementioned tax of transferring the title of a car gets increased? That affect a large portion of people. Again for or against the tax is one thing, I think the petition focuses on putting it to a vote and that is the important factor. If the popluar vote says raise the tax, fine, but them deciding to up it without a vote, I opposes that entirely

Sam Adams (Anon...

Dear County Commissioners,
We voters WILL remember the names of the representatives who forgot about the process that gave them their temporary jobs.

Pat (Anonymous)

I also agree with Mr. Sitterly. An increase in tax or fee should be voted on. All of Huron County will see the increase not just Norwalk as some are stating. I have already signed the petition and urge others to do the same. And hopefully, once this is a voting issue the commissioners can explain what exactly does the Huron County Development Council do? Has a portion of this fee gone to them in prior years? If so, what have they done with the money to date? If not, what do they plan to do with the money? So many families cannot make ends meet right now. It's ironic that this increase comes with the transfer of a home. There are tons of repossessed homes in Huron County right now. Families are losing their homes due to loss of job or cutbacks at the job that make it impossible for them to make their house payments. I think the county needs to think real hard before increasing anything right without going through the proper channels ( i.e. --- a vote!!!).

newshound (Anon...

Ready for what, Number 1? I think some are getting a little left of center. I've posted on a number of other topics on this website and have been thought to be a number of different people. I guess you can speculate all you want, but don't lose any sleep over it.

Now it's all be...

Now I see, the commissioners need this increase to be able to pay for those 'big' raises given out at Human Services.....especially Amy Liebold and Chris Robertson. I for one am more than willing to sign anything to stop this ludicrous spending!!!

Jim Sitterly (A...

Newshound,I for one am not afraid to let peole know who I am. I stand behind my beliefs and convictions. On the hand if the responses were 10 to 1 against me,I probably would want an alias too. Good luck in your up hill battle. p.s. The petition drive is going well.

Taxxer (Anonymous)

you will not get enough signatures for your lousy petition and the tax increase is a done deal. this money is needed to develop this poor county. look around because this county is missing the boat when it comes to development!!

Think about it ...

If you really stop and think about it, being for or against the tax should not decide how you feel about the petition. You should sign the petition either way because then you get to vote for the tax or against it. If you think it is such a great idea then sign the petition and go vote for the tax, and convince others to agree with you. If you think the tax is bad, sign the petition so you have the chance to vote against it. Jim is not telling anyone how to vote he is just asking that everyone has a chance to have a say in it.
Now I will state that I no longer reside in Huron County so don't jump all over me and tell me that I should not be voicing my opinion, but as an outsider I think it is smart that everyone should get to vote. Although quite honestly as an outsider I can tell you that Huron County is not a tourist destination and I really don't think any amount of money is going to make it one. It's simply along a route to a tourist destination. Not to mention maybe the residents want a peaceful,low traffic, non touristy area. I mean do you really want the whole area to be as bad as Sandusky is in the summer? You can't go anywhere! Plus don't forget tourism brings in a lot more than money and not all of it is good. Get out there and sign the petion Huron County Residents!!!!!!!!!

Jacobs (Anonymous)

Wanna Bet?????

JEF (Anonymous)

Pat wrote: 'There are tons of repossessed homes in Huron County right now.' You're on the right page. How many houses are currently in foreclosure in Huron Co.? What will be the increase in the coming yrs.? How poor have home sales been in Huron Co. in the past yr.? It's usually bad economics to raise fees on home sellers when the local residential real estate market is in a recession if not an outright depression. Local home prices are flat-to-falling and they want to raise fees???

JEF (Anonymous)

Go back and read the original article. For all intents and purposes, the board wants to raise an extra $50K-$60K to produce and distribute a pamphlet to promote tourism! Their additional reasoning for this increase is fuzzy at best. Kindly enlighten me as to when Huron Co. was EVER noted for tourism? Look at the Commission's website -{www.hccommissioners.com}. They highlight the Huron Co. jail as one of the tourist attractions! Do ya think that for an extra $50K out-of-area parents can be enticed to bring the kiddies to see it?

Are You Serious...

You really have to be kidding me that is on the site? How about doing a nice website showing our historic district, antique shops, restaurants etc. The jail? What a joke. They need to get with the times and do the web thing. Most people have access to a computer and go online to check places they are thinking about traveling to. I know I do I take a look at that city's home page and if I saw something that lame as the jail I would not go there. They better get some more stores downtown if they want to attract people. How about building something in the vacant lot next to the vfw. Something people can actually take their kids to. Like say something with go carts, video games, bowling, a skateboard area and yes I know supposedly a skateboard park is going to be built but the rate their going it will never get done. There isnt much to do here for the kids who live here let alone tourists coming in. Yeah we are a good town for cedar point visitors to stay over in a motel maybe a little cheaper than sand. during the season but that is about it.

Re:Taxer (Anonymous)

Grow up!This is not a lousy petition, this is a good thing!There are a lot of people losing their homes around here.I never really have seen anything like it personaly until recently.In the past 2 years I can think of several people I know or have met through other channels somehow that HAVE or they are in the process NOW of losing their homes because they can no longer afford them.And they have stated it is because of losing their jobs or they cannot afford it anymore with the rising costs of everything!One of my nephews just bought a house that was taken away from a family that could not afford to own it anymore!And it is a real fixerupper!He told me he feels bad for this family, because they wanted to fix it up but times got really tough on them!This is the real world now, in Huron County!I'm happy that Jim S. has taken action in this matter.Action is a lot stronger than words!Grow up!