New measure could have all Mahoning County roads paved in 5 years, engineer says

Local News

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – With a stagnant budget to meet rising costs that have doubled in the last 20 years, Mahoning County’s Engineer Pat Ginnetti wants a chance to sell voters on a new way to fund road paving.

“We have to start thinking outside of the box. We can’t continue to use, ‘This is how we’ve always done it,’ Ginnetti said.

Ginnetti, along with trustees from the county’s 14 townships, would like to see a quarter-percent sales tax levy placed on the November ballot. The nearly $9 million per year it would generate would be used strictly for infrastructure.

“It would be nice to have us on a list that says we are going to be addressed with this,” said Lola Simmons, of Austintown.

Several admit that they would have liked to see more people in attendance than just the dozen who showed up to hear about the tax proposal.

During the pandemic and the lockdown it caused, many local restaurants, like the Blue Wolf Tavern in Boardman, turned to a takeout business to stay open. Many restaurants are still counting on income from takeout customers. Blue Wolf owner Joe Rzonsa said sales tax is added to takeout orders, and while he understands the need to pave and maintain roads, businesses and customers are already facing increasing costs.

“I think it’s a little premature to jump the gun here,” he said. “It’s just another thing that is going to keep people from getting back to normal the way they would if the prices remain the same.”

Ginnetti said the tax would be spent in a way that everyone will see the benefit.

“We can carpet almost the entire county in asphalt. We can get every road done in a five-year period,” Ginnetti said.

Commissioners could take action on the idea next week.

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