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Laura Kessel is managing editor of The News-Herald in Willoughby. She writes a weekly column and shares her thoughts here.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Nothing really taxing about Dunlap's tax suggestion

Shopping isn’t as fun as it used to be.

Probably because it’s more expensive.

The gas to drive there is expensive. The clothes and other goods I’m there to purchase are more expensive.

It’s a real drag.

Yet, I still go.

And each time I get to the checkout, I remember a time long ago, and far, far away.

OK, it wasn’t really that far. Pittsburgh is only about 140 miles away.

But when I’d drive back and forth to Ohio during the three years I lived there, it seemed like forever.

When I left Ohio and my news desk job for the greener pastures of a sports department in Pittsburgh, I remember thinking that I could kill my time between waking up and heading to work at 9 p.m. (don’t ask ... it’s a bad memory) by checking out all the stores in the city’s many neighborhoods.

I used a lot of gas in those days, because I’d get lost everywhere I went. A 15-minute drive to the mall ended up taking a half-hour because I’d inevitably get lost on the way.

I couldn’t help it. All the streets were curvy, and all the curves looked the same.

Too bad GPS wasn’t available until years after I left Pittsburgh.

Once I got to the store, though, it was blissful. I’d hunt around for clothes or — even better — shoes. When I got to the checkout, I’d hear those magical words that indicated that what I owed matched the price tag on the item.


The first time it happened, I asked the clerk if the item was on sale. She laughed, and said no, that there’s no sales tax on clothing and shoes in Pennsylvania. She shot down my excitement at stocking up on diamond-studded evening gowns by revealing the only catch — there’s tax on goods the state doesn’t consider “necessities.”

It broke down like this:

No tax on stuff like pants, skirts, tops, underwear and normal shoes. There was tax, however, on “luxury” items such as bathing suits or fur coats.

Still, though, for a woman who wore a lot of jeans and casual tops to work and in her off time, it was heaven.
Then, I moved back to Ohio and got reacquainted with my nemesis.

But those who live around these parts know how to beat the system — shop in Lake County.

As a resident of Cuyahoga County, I’m painfully aware that everything will cost just a little bit more near home. I escape it by doing most of my buying over the border.

While food purchased at the supermarket isn’t taxed, everything else is. So, cleaning supplies and other household goods come from Giant Eagle in Willowick. Clothes are purchased at Great Lakes Mall or other stores that dot the landscape in Mentor or Willoughby. Restaurant meals generally are consumed in the land of Lake as well.

There’s no escaping the big whopper of a tax, though, because when you buy a car, you’re taxed where you live. So even though Classic has a lot of pretty cars on its many lots, it doesn’t save me any tax money to do my bargaining there.

That 7.5 percent hit will be felt as soon as the address hits the form.

Because I know the difference between a high sales tax and a 6.25 percent tax, I was intrigued by Sheriff Dan Dunlap’s pitch to raise Lake County’s rate by 0.25 percent as a means to increase the county’s budget.

Dunlap readily admits that he knows that even if the county does raise its tax, there’s no guarantee he’d get an extra dime.

I must admit that I didn’t mind Dunlap’s suggestion one little bit.

I, for one, would still come to Lake County to do pretty much all my shopping and dining out.

For me, it would still be a savings of 1 percent. When you calculate it over a year, it won’t make me rich, but neither will cutting out a few coupons and cashing them in at Giant Eagle. And I still do that every week.

It might make those in Geauga County a little less likely to run to the mall, because Lake’s tax rate would be higher than theirs. But, even they know their choices are a little slim — Great Lakes Mall, Beachwood Place or Legacy Village.

The latter two are in Cuyahoga County.

I know my opinion differs from most of those who left web comments on our stories this week. Those anonymous folks said they’d do their shopping elsewhere if the county raises its tax rate.

Good luck finding what you need at a lower tax rate.

For now it looks like we won’t have to worry about it, because Commissioners Dan Troy and Ray Sines have said there’s no way they’ll raise the sales tax rate.

But, just remember, there aren’t many ways to make money off those who live out of town. Take advantage of us if you can. We’re obviously willing to give.

Twitter: @LauraNH


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What logic. We pay taxes everywhere so let's have another one. Any Republican who advocates a tax increase of any kind should be thrown out of the party. Problem is, Sheriff Dunlap does not have the nerve to stand up to the greedy police union. We are going broke because of bloated benefits and pension obligations given our public employees while the private sector that pays for it is going into the toilet. The private sector has been in severe economic recession for four years. How much more can you beat them over the head?

"Intriguing"? No, dumb.

Dunlap should join the democrat party. He seems to act like one lately.

September 3, 2011 at 6:44 AM 

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