The Hamilton County Board of County Commissioners (“BOCC”) is considering assessing a new Utility Services Tax on residential and commercial utility bills. The BOCC is given the authority to assess this new tax through section 324.02 of the Ohio Revised Code, which states that the tax can be used for “the purpose of providing additional general revenues for the County.” In the Hamilton County budget that the BOCC passed in December was a directive to begin implementation of this tax for the purpose of generating revenues to fund the Hamilton County 911 Communications Center. Before the tax is implemented, the BOCC must hold two public hearings and take a vote. The public hearings will take place on Feb. 3 and 10, and a vote could happen shortly after the hearings.
The Cincinnati Chamber has weighed in opposed to the tax, as it believes the tax would affect Hamilton County’s attractiveness as a place to do business for a variety of reasons:
- Businesses should not be responsible for tax collection on behalf of government.
- Shared services and emergency services consolidation must be explored before a new tax is implemented (and has not been).
- Emergency communication services are a basic public safety service, and a greater general revenue fund commitment is needed.
- Imposing a new tax without parameters on how revenues are spent should not be an option.