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Lorain County Commissioners Facing Challenges On Two Fronts

Signs for economic development meetings in the City of Lorain. [Matt Richmond / ideastream]

Opponents of a sales tax increase in Lorain County plan to submit petitions Tuesday, in hopes of overturning the 0.25 percent hike and the effort is part of a broader backlash against the county government’s handling of public finances.

The board of commissioners passed the new rate in December by a two-one vote. That decision came just a month after 74 percent of voters rejected the same increase when it appeared on the ballot.

Kirsten Hill is one of the organizers of the petition drive, which has collected 11,500 signatures, almost 4,000 more than they need. She says people just don’t believe the argument made by county officials that, without the tax hike, the county would need to make layoffs.

“You cry wolf so many times…the people don’t, they’re not going to take it anymore," says Hill.

Lorain County residents voted down sales tax measures in 2011, 2013 and 2016. The organizer of another petition drive, former county commissioner David Moore, says the changes need to go beyond this measure.

“I support them, go for it, that's their right but the problem is they can impose it anyway. County commissioners have that right to do that. They have the right to impose a tax without a vote. My efforts are more in line with - we need to change the system itself, to have more of a citizens' voice,” says Moore.

Moore is collecting signatures to advance a referendum that would change Lorain’s county government system from three commissioners to a seven-district board with an appointed executive. Both groups hope to have their issues appear on November’s ballot.

Matthew Richmond is a reporter/producer focused on criminal justice issues at Ideastream Public Media.