April 19, 2014

Elyria
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Avon Council adds sales tax hike to ballot

AVON — It’s officially up to Avon voters to decide if they want a recreation center, a minor league baseball team and other first-class athletics facilities.
Council approved adding a 0.25 percent income tax increase to the November ballot during Monday’s meeting.
The projects hinge on the tax increase, which would bring the city’s income tax up to 1.75 percent, and apply only to those who work in Avon. Someone who earns $50,000 a year would pay $125 annually, if the increase is approved.
An additional $1.2 million would be generated annually by the increase. In 2006, the city collected more than $7.6 million in income tax.
Mayor Jim Smith presented a development package with YMCA and Frontier League officials to Council in March that included plans for a $13.5 million, YMCA-run recreation center and a $6 million city-owned stadium.
Smith said Monday that the 67,200-square-foot recreation center remains the cornerstone of the project.
“The rec center is the thing people in the community have been asking for,” he said. “It’s the key component. The other (projects) will happen, but within time.”
Smith said the city is still in negotiations with the Frontier League to bring an independent baseball team similar to a minor league affiliate to the city.
Matt Perry, a partner in a Frontier League investment group eyeing Avon for a team, said in March that his group intends on signing, but is waiting for voter approval of the 3,500-seat-capacity stadium before they’re willing to commit.
The proposed 120-acre site along state Route 611 and Interstate 90 would grow to include a Lorain County Metro Parks’ “Splash Zone,” an ice hockey and skating rink, indoor soccer facility, tennis courts and youth baseball and softball fields.
Smith said the city will begin an informative process that includes taking senior citizens and members of the city’s park and recreation board to the recently built YMCA in Lakewood, which is comparable to the one proposed in Avon.
A committee will also be formed to create mailings describing the projects and the tax increase. The mailings will be funded by groups, including a local swim team and the Avon school district.
Although Smith suggested that some of the $7,000 locked up in his own campaign coffers could be utilized to spread the “informative” word, he maintained that his buck stopped there.
“There’s no emotional attachment here,” Smith said. “I’m bringing (the projects) before the people and saying this is what we got. If they want it, they’ll vote for it. My job is to at least bring these ideas to them.”
Contact Steve Szucs at 329-7129 or sszucs@chroniclet.com.