Lorain County To Raise Sales Tax in 2017
A month after Lorain County voters overwhelmingly rejected a sales tax increase, county commissioners Wednesday decided 2 to 1 to increase the tax by a quarter percent.
Commissioner Lori Kokoski originally voted against the tax increase last week when she expected the county to trim its budget by 15%. Then the estimate grew to 20%, and that she said, meant big cuts to the county prosecutor and sheriff’s offices.
"I changed my mind because I didn’t feel like I was doing my job by not imposing the sales tax," Kokoski said. "And especially with the heroin epidemic that Lorain County and everybody else is facing, taking 10 deputies off the road right now, is not the right thing to do."
She says the county government is already struggling financially.
"We are buying vehicles for our deputies on credit. We are going to bond these out. It’s probably going to take 20 yrs to pay off cars that are going to be in the junkyard by the time we pay them off. Regular maintenance and improvements that we’re doing in the county building, you still have to keep your buildings in repair. We don’t have the money to fix it. We’re bonding all that out. We’re making terrible decisions because the voters don’t want to give us additional sales tax to run county government."
County Commissioner Matt Lundy voted against the increase because he had made a campaign promise.
"While I took my pledge to not impose a sales tax, it’s important to understand the county’s not crying wolf here. There is a serious need," Lundy said.
Voters have 30 days to collect signatures to repeal the sales tax increase in order to put a ballot measure in next year’s general election. The new tax rate is expected to take effect April first.