December 19, 2014

Elyria
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Voters reject levy to fund Lorain County Transit

Bev Beidelman, chairwoman of the Lorain County Transit levy campaign, center, looks at election results on her iPad at Applebee's on Tuesday night. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

Bev Beidelman, chairwoman of the Lorain County Transit levy campaign, center, looks at election results on her iPad at Applebee’s on Tuesday night. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

ELYRIA – For the second year in a row, Lorain County voters have rejected a property tax levy to support Lorain County Transit.

According to unofficial election returns from the Lorain County Board of Elections, 16,746 voters, or 58 percent, cast ballots against the 0.065-mill levy. The returns showed that 12,180 voters, or 42 percent, were in favor of the measure.

Bev Beidelman, chair of a committee that had been waging a small campaign to get the levy passed, said she was disappointed by the results, but is willing to try again in the future.

“It didn’t happen for us this time, but you can tell the people we’re not giving up,” she said at a small gathering of levy supporters at the Applebee’s in Elyria. “We’re not giving up. Lorain County will one day have good transportation.”

County Commissioner Ted Kalo said he would be willing to back another levy push as soon as the November general election, which is expected to have a higher voter turnout.

Commissioner Lori Kokoski said she isn’t certain yet whether she’d favor trying again, although she believes improving public transportation is important for the county. She said it might be better to put the money the commissioners would spend placing the issue on the ballot on increasing transit services.

Although Lorain County Transit once boasted a county-spanning system, budget cutbacks have trimmed services back to two routes running between Elyria and Lorain and a limited Dial-A-Ride service.

Had the levy passed, the owner of a home valued at $100,000 would have paid $2.28 annually. It would have brought in $402,804 annually, money that county officials said would have been used to provide matching money to bring in additional state and federal dollars.

Commissioner Tom Williams, who voted against putting the levy on the ballot, said he wasn’t surprised by the levy’s defeat.

“(The last levy) was defeated in May of 2013 and they went and asked for more money and I think that was a mistake,” Williams said.

Last year, when the county commissioners had sought a smaller 0.04-mill levy, 59 percent of voters cast ballots against the measure.

Beidelman and other levy supporters said despite the defeat, increasing the services offered by transit remains an important issue for many in the community. She said that’s the message that the committee will focus on sharing with voters if another transit levy goes on the ballot.

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