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Proposed electricity tax hike juices up locals

Ohio consumers may be paying more - a lot more - for their electricity, if the Ohio legislature has its way.

The Ohio house is considering a bill that would hike the tax on electric by 30 percent. Right now electric customers are assessed at .00465 per kilowatt hour of power. If House Bill 66 is approved, that would increase to .006046 cents.

A consumer using an average of 1,500 kilowatt hours per month would pay state tax of more than $9 per bill or $108 on an annual basis.

For Don Murnahan of Aid this is tantamount to picking his pocket.

"It's going to hurt the rural people more because they generally heat their homes with electricity. They don't have natural gas. But really, this is going to hurt everybody. Everyone I've talked to is not happy about it," Murnahan said.

Murnahan's contention is echoed by Buckeye Rural Electric Cooperative spokesman Steve Oden, who also opposes the tax- hike plan.

"Statistics show that rural residents consume more electricity than people who reside in urban areas. This proposed tax increase will put a burden on Ohio residents who can ill afford higher prices, whether at the gas pumps or on other types of fuel," Oden said. "This is the time of year when it is hard for people to balance their budgets due to the size of utility bills. Increasing the kilowatt-hour tax by 30 percent means even higher costs for home heating."

Lawrence County Commissioner George Patterson cited the electric tax hike as one reason why he opposes state budget proposal and tax reform plan.

"The one thing that upsets me is the tax on electricity," Patterson said. "This is going to hurt the person getting $900 a month to live on and they've got to decide 'am I going to buy groceries or pay my electric bill or go to the doctor?'" Patterson said. "They talk about cutting taxes but they're not really cutting taxes except for wealthier people."

The commission Thursday officially voted to endorse the effort by Campaign to Stop Ohio's Slide (SOS) a grass roots effort that vocally opposes the proposed state spending plan. SOS officials urge private citizens to contact their elected representatives in Columbus and demand they vote against the spending plan.