August 20, 2014

Elyria
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Lorain County commissioners considering 2 levies for May

Susan Lilly walks to a Lorain County Transit bus in this 2009 file photo. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

Susan Lilly walks to a Lorain County Transit bus in this 2009 file photo. The county commissioners are considering whether to ask voters to approve a levy to expand LCT services.  CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

ELYRIA — Lorain County commissioners are mulling whether to ask voters in May to approve levies to fund the county’s crime lab as well as Lorain County Transit.

Voters resoundingly rejected a 0.04-mill levy for transit last year that would have brought in roughly $246,000 annually to expand LCT services, but Commissioner Lori Kokoski said it’s important to try again.

“Transit isn’t really popular, but it is one thing that the community needs,” she said.

Budget cuts in recent years have dramatically reduced the number of routes LCT buses run and reduced funding has meant the county has had to forego federal and state dollars that could have been used to pay for expanded bus services, county Administrator Jim Cordes said.

He said Lorain County residents are effectively subsidizing transit systems in other counties because LCT can’t afford the matching money to bring in state and federal dollars to pay for transit locally.

“For every 20 cents we put on the table, we get 80 cents back,” he said.

Cordes said the county might even ask for a slightly higher levy to pay for transit this year, one that could bring in as much as $300,000 annually.

The commissioners also are hoping the support they received for a 0.08 mill levy to fund the Lorain County Drug Task Force last year will translate into success at the polls if they ask voters to back new property taxes to support the crime lab.

Cordes said the lab has been operated in partnership with the Lorain County Adult Probation Department in recent years, but the Probation Department is going through some reorganization that will see drug testing of those being supervised outsourced as a cost-saving measure.

He said that will leave the crime lab with approximately $155,000 per year to pay for staffing, equipment and materials to analyze evidence, including drugs, that help speed up the local court system.

“It doesn’t bring in enough money to be self-supporting,” he said of the crime lab, which is funded through a small levy it shares with the Drug Task Force.

Commissioner Tom Williams said he’s still deciding whether to support putting the levies on the May ballot.

“I will consider the crime lab,” he said. “I’m not sold on the transit levy yet. Every time we put it up, it gets defeated.”

Cordes said the crime lab levy would probably bring in about $400,000 per year if voters approve it.

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

  • CharlesMartel732

    Let me see if I understand this article correctly. They want to raise our taxes for Lorain County Transit in order to receive more Federal funding? If that is the case, no wonder public transportation is “one thing the community needs.”

  • GreatRedeemer

    Commissioners, you want a levy for transportation for
    $300,000 to benefit users of public transportation. That’s not a bad idea depending on who it might help.
    Here is the thing though, the citizens of Lorain County are already paying well over this amount out at the airport. According to the 2012 county Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.Revenue received $223,486 expenses $657,095 equaling a loss and cost to taxpayers of $433,609.

    Tell me why the taxpayers of Lorain County have to fund a largely weekend pilot’s playground. Tell me why you have a professional company operating the airport yet year after year, yet there are 6 figure deficits.

    I would not call this good monetary stewardship.

    • JustTheFacts

      Unfortunately you did not get all of your numbers correct. You need to read ALL of the financial statements. If you look, after the $433,609 loss, are transfers-in of $50,000 (which is the subsidy from the County General Fund) and $782,583 Capital Grants and Contributions (which are federal and state monies). This statement is accrual based, if you look at the cash basis statement on pg 204 of the 2012 CAFR, there was an actual excess of $16,285, not a 6 figure loss or cost to the taxpayers as you surmise.

      • Tim Watson

        Hey “just the facts” or whatever commissioner this is. We don’t want to pay for it. Period.
        Crime lab maybe…need more info.
        I’d pay for a bigger jail. Why don’t you ever ask about that?

        • JustTheFacts

          I am not a commissioner, just giving the correct information so you can make an informed opinion. I do not have an opinion on the airport, however, a bigger jail would probably be better for the County at this time, in my opinion.

      • stillsleepyeyes

        But is still a loss none the less………………as so you keep paying out with nothing coming in……………….is not good…………..you wouldn’t do it in your own home…………..

        • JustTheFacts

          Technically it is not a loss but a subsidy to the airport from the general fund, however I do understand your point. It is also incorrect however, to say there is nothing coming in as it appears that they did receive over $200,000 in revenue for charges for services. I do not know what the charges are exactly but I would think it would revolve around the use of the facility. As far as doing this in my own home, I was not justifying anything rather just supplying some corrected information for others to have a more informed opinion.

      • GreatRedeemer

        Ok I may stand corrected. I do not see these numbers or
        anything referencing the airport itself on page 204. Is this lumped together in all enterprise activity?

        You seem familiar with the numbers presented. The Capital amount you reference is used for capitalized expenses, correct? Question is does the expenses of $657,095 include capitalized costs? If so, I stand corrected but these grants and contributions what are the strings attached to them?

        • JustTheFacts

          Not familiar with these numbers specifically, but familiar with governmental financial statements. Pg 204 is the Enterprise Fund – Airport stand alone statement. In an accrual statement like the one on pg 29, capitalized costs are depreciated over the useful life of the assets, this is why there is a depreciation expense of 405,655. On pg 204, the amount of 471,031 is capital outlay which is the cash basis capitalized cost for that period. In respect to grants and contributions, usually the entity requests these funds from a federal or state entity through an application process including a proposal of what they are going to spend the money on. Sometimes there is a matching portion (spend $1 of your own money for every $10 they give you) (I believe Mr. Cordes stated in this article that they could not get federal transit dollars because they could not afford the match there). I am not familiar with what grants or contributions the airport may be getting so I cannot comment on that aspect. You can request this information through a public records request though, if you so wish.

          • GreatRedeemer

            Fair enough, but depreciated items is are an accounting function and I get it, expenses versus long term depreciated items.
            This is an accounting function not an operating revenue function.

  • SniperFire

    ‘“Transit isn’t really popular, but it is one thing that the community needs,” she said.’

    Well, there is some abject stupidity you don’t see everyday!

  • sayitwearit

    No. Too much waste in other areas (i.e. Airport) that can be trimmed. Stop worrying about who isn’t your friend on Facebook and try working for the people!

  • stillsleepyeyes

    Good luck with that……………………..we still remember all those routes you cut ……….but yet ran a bus to Cleveland for the casino at a loss……………..as a matter of fact kalo has a good rep on running things into the ground…………….

    • Phil Blank

      Yes, an his is or is going to be the county commission president, again!
      How about that!

      • stillsleepyeyes

        Sounds like the same ole gardwennie puppet show…………….which in turn will not get anything passed……………..which in turn they will force it down our throats …………..and then we will have to fight to get it all turned back around……………….this is what we will get from this clown……………..

  • Phil Blank

    “Transit isn’t really popular”?
    If that we “really” true, why are they thinking about 2 new levies in May?
    Of course transit is popular, just not the way you people try to fund it!

  • bigmacky

    unless the KK bunch goes – the answer is NO NO NO NO NO NO NO

  • Linda Groves

    Nothing to discuss===NO MORE TAXES!!! WE ARE TAXED ENOUGH!!@

  • Harold Wilson

    Time for change Lorain County Voters you need across the board change. Wake up before it’s to late.

  • Mark B

    Stop with the taxes already , every election more and more is coming out of the taxpayers pockets , County , City , LCCC , Elyria Schools , Elyria Library . Mental Center …………… Enough is Enough
    NO TO ANY TAX

    • Sue Lawson

      Also JVS and they want a new tax for a crime lab. These levies, if they pass, tax the property owners. Wouldn’t it be nice if our property tax paid for only what they were meant to? Like police, fire, roads. Imagine how low they would be.

  • JoyceEarly

    End the failed war on drugs!

  • Don Grantzki

    The latest snafu concerning “choosing the leader” should show everybody that fully one third of the electorate aren’t being given consideration when decisions are to be made at the county level.
    Therefore, if the two thirds who are actually being considered don’t wish to pass the levies, then they must not be necessary.
    TERM LIMITS for ALL!

  • Americaschild

    No more taxes!!! Remember these Commissioners–Kalo and Kokoski–paid to have the bus go to Cleveland to the casino–out of Lorain County.

  • John Davidson

    Typical Democrat. Make all property owners pay for the very few that would even have access to the buses. I have lived in southern Lorain County and have never seen a bus.

    • formerlorainresident

      Want to ride the bus, you pay to ride the bus!

      Not enough riders to cover the cost, stop providing the service.

      Very simple solution. Like any private business, you make money, or go out of business. Commissioner Kalo should understand this, his business in downtown Lorain went under, despite government assistance.

      • GreatRedeemer

        His business fled Lorain and moved leaving foreclosure and unpaid loans behind. I do agree users should pay for service, but affordable bus service helps those that need help. Unlike the situation at the airport where everyone in Lorain county is paying their share to support the $400,000 deficit while those able to afford private plans enjoy the airport.

  • fortheluvof

    If you create jobs and put all of your citizens back to work you won’t have to keep begging the few paying taxes for more, more, more. What is the good of leaders that stand around begging, I say no , no ,no.

    • county_elector

      Many citizens can not afford automobiles. They rely on public transit to go to and from work. Expand the routes, and more citizens can get to more jobs. Cut services, and those that can no longer get to work will rely on public assistance.

      • stillsleepyeyes

        That route to Cleveland really helped those that work here in the county huh………..

  • oldruss

    Before you take more money out of the pockets of cash-strapped taxpayers, raise the fares charged by LCT, so that those few who actually use the bus service are paying the lion’s share of its cost.

    And while we’re at it, how may daily riders does LCT actually have? Whenever I see a LCT bus going down the road, it’s more often than not virtually empty.

    Perhaps we should switch to a voucher system tied to welfare eligibility, that the recipient could use for a taxi ride. Those receiving welfare benefits could chose to take part of their benefit money for taxi vouchers, just like those who work for a living have to make choices on how to split up their pay checks each week. That way, the truly needy are still afforded with “public transportation”, but the taxpayers are not burdened further.

  • Jan

    We need bus service, and yet the county keeps cutting it.
    The reason that maybe you do not have the riders like in years gone by, is that you have cut the service to almost nothing.
    People cannot get to jobs, like they could. And we are limited to where we can go. I mean we cannot get to Dr like we use to or even to Elyria Wal Mart.
    Years ago the bus service was great, you could get to almost anywhere you needed to go, Plus the hours where a lot better then they are today.
    You cannot even wave a bus down now, you have to be at a certain place to get picked up.
    I cannot get from point A to point B with the service like it is now,,
    My understanding is that it does not go to Nords, or Lorain Housing , or Lorain Hospital.
    Places that sure some need to get to.
    Would love to see this pass for the bus service and maybe hope to see it build back up to what it used to be in time. Instead of it going down hill like it seems to be doing.

  • fortheluvof

    Unfortunately the bus is never going to take you to the jobs if they come back. No night shift or weekends when low income jobs need filling. If not for low income bus just goes out for food stamps which have just been lowered so you cant even barter them away and still eat.