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Franklin County Commission considers tax increases

Franklin County commissioners are expected to vote later this week on proposals to boost sales taxes and real estate fees. The proposed tax hikes would help erase a projected 55-million dollar deficit.

During the first of three public hearings on the proposed tax changes, commissioners got a green light from a couple of county judges, county engineer Dean Ringle, representatives from three agencies that get county funds, and from county sheriff Jim Karnes. "It looks like the bad guys do more for more but we in criminal justice are asked to do more for less." Karnes says.

Sheriff Karnes wants a half-cent increase in the county sales tax to help run the jail, patrol the county and investigate crime. He says without additional funds the sheriff's office faces a "huge reduction" of services. Commissioners also got support for additional taxes from the Columbus Association of the Performing Arts. Kimber Perfect told commissioners the additional revenue is needed in part to keep improve the downtown area where CAPA holds most of its performances.

Commissioners will consider either a quarter-cent or half-cent increase in the county sales tax and a higher fee on real estate transactions. Projections indicate a half-cent increase would generate $88,000,000 annually for the county's general fund. The real estate fee would add $6,000,000 more. Two more public hearings are scheduled before a possible vote by commissioners on Thursday.