September 16, 2014

Elyria
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Approval of income tax hike a major victory for Lorain Mayor Chase Ritenauer

LORAIN — Mayor Chase Ritenauer, who turns 28 on Nov. 30, said Tuesday’s passage of Issue 13, a 0.5 percent income tax hike, was an early present.

Ritenauer said Wednesday that the permanent increase, which will raise $5.3 million annually and cost a worker earning $50,000 yearly an additional $250, is “huge.” Rejection would’ve meant cutting at least 25 city employee to fill an approximately $2 million projected deficit.

However, Ritenauer and other supporters promoted the increase to voters as more of a road and parks improvement initiative. Pave the Way to a Better Lorain was the name of the committee formed to lobby for the increase.

Besides eliminating the deficit, $1.6 million will pay borrowing costs on a $20 million, 20-year bond for road improvements. Another $1 million will be spent annually on road improvements and maintenance.

Another $600,000 will pay for four or five workers to maintain Lorain’s 56 parks, which have suffered since the parks department was eliminated a few years ago. The city workforce has decreased from about 600 in 2002 to about 450 workers now.

Ritenauer said roughly $55,000 was raised by committee members to promote the increase, which raises the tax to 2.5 percent. Much of it was spent on mailers and yard signs.

But Ritenauer put a premium on meeting voters at community events, civic and political gatherings and in residents’ living rooms.

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.