July 28, 2014

Elyria
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Voters turn down county transit levy

ELYRIA — Voters decided Tuesday that $1.23 per year was too much for the owner of a home valued at $100,000 to pay to support expanding Lorain County Transit.

The county commissioners, who put the 0.04-mill levy on the ballot, had hoped that the small amount — which they often equated with money someone might drop into a Salvation Army kettle over the holidays — would be enough to convince voters to back the levy.

It didn’t work.

According to unofficial election returns, the levy received 11,071 votes, or 41 percent, in support, but 15,977, or 59 percent, against.

Commissioner Lori Kokoski said although the levy went down, the results could have been even more lopsided.

“We’ll probably put it on again and continue to educate the voters about the need,” she said. “Hopefully, eventually they’ll find it in their hearts to help those who can’t help themselves.”

The levy, which would have raised about $246,000 annually, would have allowed the commissioners to expand transit’s routes, which have been increasingly scaled back in recent years as the county has grappled with ongoing budget woes. Only short routes running between Elyria and Lorain and a controversial route into downtown Cleveland remain.

The commissioners argued that the money brought in by the levy would have been doubled by federal grants, allowing them to restore services cut long ago.

Years ago, the commissioners were kicking in around $1.5 million to transit. But that number has shrunk to $50,000 to support the in-county routes and doesn’t include the money the commissioners have spent on the Cleveland route that hasn’t performed as well as they would have liked.

Kokoski said that given the defeat of the levy and the low ridership, she’s inclined to scrap the Cleveland run at this point.

County Administrator Jim Cordes said he too thinks the county will try again to pass a levy and that transit will continue to operate in the meantime.

“There’s going to be changes, but we’re going to do everything we can to stay in the transit game,” he said.

Issue 2

  • What it is: A 0.04-mill additional levy.
  • Duration: 5 years.
  • How much it would have raised: $246,000 per year.
  • Purpose: Operations of Lorain County Transit.
  • Cost to homeowners: The owner of a $100,000 home would have paid $1.23 per year.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.