November 22, 2014

Medina
Flurries
35°F

County economy continues to improve, auditor says

Mike Kovack

Medina County’s sales tax revenue was up in 2012 — for the third year in a row.

But the county’s overall retail sales are lower than in 2007, the last year before the Great Recession.

The county’s revenue from local sales taxes increased to almost $21 million — up 3.4 percent from 2011, adjusted for inflation to 2012 dollars.

County Auditor Mike Kovack said the increase is more proof of the county’s recovery from the recession.

“It does dovetail with several other indicators that show we’re recovering,” Kovack said. “People are spending more whether or not they’re making more.”

Other evidence of recovery he cited includes the county’s strengthening housing market and a drop in home foreclosures.

Kovack said he expected the county’s healing to continue because the county was hit by the recession later and began recovering quicker.

Medina County sales tax revenue
(adjusted for inflation to 2012 dollars)

2008: $20,435,491
2009: $19,330,727
2010: $19,668,790
2011: $20,275,022
2012: $20,967,352

Source: Ohio Department of Taxation

“We’re also protected because of our economic strengths,” he said.

The county’s sales tax revenue hit a low during the worst of the recession in 2009.

Since then, the county’s collections steadily have moved up — increasing 2.1 percent in 2010 and 2.9 percent in 2011.

That makes last year’s jump of 3.4 percent the biggest since the recession hit.

While last year’s sales tax revenue was the most ever collected, Kovack said the county would have done even better in 2007 if today’s sales tax rate was in effect then.

The last year the county’s portion of the sales tax rate was 0.5 percent was in 2007. The next year, county voters approved an additional 0.5 percent for capital improvements for schools. That brought the total sales tax to 6.5 percent, which includes the state’s take of 5.5 percent.

State economic officials said last year’s sales tax collections were the best since 2007 in most counties in the state.

“It’s certainly been a trend,” said Dave Pagnard, a spokesman for the Ohio Office of Budget and Management. “Statewide, it’s been pretty consistent.”

Local economic development officials said they also see signs the recovery is moving faster in Medina County.

Bethany Dentler, executive director of the Medina County Economic Development Corp., said that wasn’t surprising.

“What we saw in the industrial sector was probably the highest rise in capital investment in probably a decade,” Dentler said. “I think it’s a sign that Medina County has a very healthy, diverse economy.”

(GAZETTE GRAPHIC BY ED BETZEL)

She said investors and business owners began thinking in 2012 that the economy was starting to sustain itself.

“We’re seeing optimism, but perhaps guarded optimism,” she said. “Some of them are holding back on future expansions to wait to see what’s happening with things like health care expansion.”

Tim Smith, Brunswick’s economic development director, agreed.

“These businesses have been holding back since the recession,” Smith said, “but now they want to move forward — though, cautiously.”

He said business owners have been reporting more people buying cars, eating out and retail shopping.

“Things are just getting better,” he said.

The county also could be benefiting because some people are coming from Cuyahoga County to shop to take advantage of Medina County’s lower sales tax rate, Smith said.
Cuyahoga County has a 7.75 percent sales tax — the highest in the state.

Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or nglunt@medina-gazette.com.