October 26, 2014


County puts sales tax increase on Nov. ballot

ELYRIA — Give us a sales tax increase and we will cut your property taxes.

That’s the offer Lorain County commissioners are making to voters. Wednesday morning, all three commissioners voted to place a 0.5 percent temporary sales tax increase on the ballot that would be in place for three years. In exchange, commissioners intend on suspending the collection of 1.4 mills of inside millage, which is a property tax voters have no say in, for that same three-year period for 2014 to 2016.

The plan may seem a little farfetched to some — the reduction of property taxes in favor of more sales-tax revenue — but commissioners did not mince words in talking about how the increase was the only thing that could stave off a looming deficit. It also would shift some of the financial burden of supporting county government off homeowners and onto everyone who shops in the county.
“This is our last opportunity to do anything, and I hope we get there,” Commissioner Ted Kalo said.

A $6 million hole in the 2014 budget is being projected. “If we don’t get this, we will be in dire need,” Commissioner Tom Williams said.

The sales tax in Lorain County is 6.25 percent with 5.5 percent going directly to state coffers. The remaining 0.75 percent is split between the county general fund at 0.5 percent and the Lorain County Jail at 0.25 percent.

“I got a call just recently from a woman who bought a car and was surprised to see how much sales tax was included in her purchase. She asked us not to raise the sales tax,” Commissioner Lori Kokoski said. “We hear what our residents are saying, but when we’re asking for a sales tax, I hope residents know we’re asking because it’s their neighborhood, their justice system and their jail. We are one of largest counties in Ohio with one of the lowest sales tax rates with the state getting most of that money.”

If voters approve the temporary 0.5 percent increase, the move would bring in roughly $16 million annually. It will be enough to recoup $8.3 million that will not be collected in property tax, fill the $6 million budget hole and provide some revenue for capital improvements.

It is yet to be determined if language telling voters about the suspension of inside millage will be included on the ballot, but that is absolutely the intent of county officials who want voters to know explicitly what they are getting in exchange for their support.

“I think it’s important that when someone reads the ballot they know exactly what we are trying to do,” said County Administrator James Cordes. “Let’s face it. This is a Hail Mary pass. We are trying to raise the sales tax and reduce the property tax. We are putting everything we have out there, and we want voters to know our intent with no questions.”

Assistant County Prosecutor Gerald Innes said a few different ballot wordings will be submitted to the Lorain County Board of Elections and it will be up to the secretary of state’s office to determine the legality of the language used on the ballot that voters will see in November.

Williams said a lot of residents have told him that they want to see the property tax suspension included in the ballot language.
“They’ll trust it if it’s there,” he said. “A lot of people have not seen a reduction in their property taxes, so they’re a little skeptical we are really willing to do it.”

Kokoski said it will be too expensive to wage a full-fledged campaign for the sales tax, so supporters will have to be hit with a very basic strategy.
“It’s the three T’s — teaching, trust and transparency,” Kokoski said. “We have to educate voters and be very transparent in everything we do so they trust us.”

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.

  • Suzan Smith

    This is about as worthless as the Oberlin fracking issue – and is costing the taxpayer money we don’t have to put it on the ballot again!! No new taxes!!

    • agent5959

      It’s an attempt to shift some of the tax burden AWAY from residents and onto folks from neighboring counties shopping in our county, so this is not “new taxes” for Lorain County residents.

      That said, it’s a dangerous move, because we currently have a good number of auto buyers coming to Lorain County for their purchases to avoid the higher sales tax in surrounding areas. Raising the sales tax could drive some of that outside revenue away, which is bad for the county.

      • sunnysunday

        That is incorrect. Your auto sales tax is based on the county in which you live, not in which you buy. In other words, Cuyahoga County auto shoppers will not realize any tax benefit shopping here.

    • happy to be gone

      if you want a nice place to live your going to have to pay more to fund good roads and schools, hire police, trash collection etc. It also keeps the crap out of your city bc they cant afford to live there. I was born and raised in Elyria and ran away as fast as i could bc it has gone so far down hill. People there are so stupid, they want their community to be like bay, westlake, and river but do not want to pay for it. News flash…those cities are safe, clean, have great parks, tons of police and great schools. Why you ask? Bc their taxes are higher. Elyria residents need to WAKE UP!

      • Suzan Smith

        You are right about paying more to get more, but I think Lorain County, as a whole, sees no positive advances with increased taxes. High unemployment makes it hard to pass a levy as well.

        • happy to be gone

          it is why i moved. Elyria is DEAD. WAY to many past mistakes. Building an industrial parkway located too far from your city with never a hope or prayer at filling it. Letting your schools fall into disarray, electing terrible leaders that were / are grossly under qualified. Elyria needs to raise taxes and hire 2x the amount of police they have to force the garbage out, invest greatly in schools parks and roads. After that with a low enough crime rate and great schools you can attract young people looking for a good place to raise a family. That will bring businesses back to the city. Short of that, Elyria is doomed, five years away from being Lorain. It sucks, i love Elyria.

          • Suzan Smith

            You could be right. I would not call either one of them “a shining city on the hill”!

        • happy to be gone

          higher taxes is the ONLY way to force the poor trash out. you have to make it impossible for them to be able to afford to live in your city while establishing a police force to lock up the remaining trash until they get the idea and leave. IT”S THE ONLY WAY

      • Daniel Sutter

        Elyria is a welfare / manufacturing town and the manufacturing is gone. (same with lorain). To think you tax the few taxpayers to the point past bankruptcy to make it like bay village, well you must be smoking some good stuff. The taxpayer has to do more with less and so should the government. For the commissioners to say you will vote this in or we will take it anyway, that should cost them their jobs.

        • happy to be gone

          “smoking the good stuff” You are clueless. All i hear is whining from Elyria. When 57 was fixed, everyone was up in arms about the lighting, the flower beds in the median. They said it cost way to much. But these are the same people that want to be like avon, avon lake, bay, river. Well guess what. Nice things cost more money. You need to make elyria appealing to young families starting out. It is the only way Elyria is going to survive. You need twice as many police to take out the trash. You need amazing schools, fresh paved roads, and a clean city. Living in Cleveland costs me more, but I have a great clean neighborhood with zero crime, great schools, and beautiful parks. All of that costs money. People in Elyria want the good life, but are not willing to pay for it. that is why Elyria is DEAD.

          • Daniel Sutter

            Once a welfare town, it can only be that. All other money is not going to change that. If you think you can get upper middle class to move in a welfare town because you threw money on making it pretty, well you are beyond clueless. Only thing they can do is try to bring back business and manufacturing.

          • Mark B

            News Flash , none of the young people have jobs , they are all popping out babies and living on welfare.

  • Bill Love

    Tjey should raise it I’m a home owner that is tired of paying for everything with my porperty tax so let’s make it fair

  • Hank Bennett

    Remember Federal Income Tax was a Temporary. TAX, WE STILL PAY.

  • Daniel Sutter

    For the commissioners to say you will vote this in or we will take it anyway, that should cost them their jobs.

  • oldruss

    IF the Commissioners were serious about reducing the property tax, then the Commissioners should have put that on the ballot along with this sales tax increase.

    Also, what is the total tax that will be collected by this sales tax increase, and what will be saved, IF the Commissioners actually do reduce the property tax? Isn’t it still a net increase in taxes?