Support for public health agencies ranks prominently among tax requests on the Nov. 8 ballot here in Lorain County.
Issues 32 through 36 include a proposed sales tax hike, more money for the local crime lab and coroner’s office, and measures to fund the county tuberculosis clinic, give help to people battling addiction, and a reduction for the health district.
Lorain County commissioners are asking to raise the local income tax, one of the lowest in the state.
Issue 32 would bump the tax by a quarter of a penny for every dollar you spend countywide — from 6.5 percent to 6.75 percent — which would still keep it among the bottom 25 percent of county sales taxes in all of Ohio.
Under the proposal, half the extra money would go to county operating expenses. The other half would be used to improve public transit.
A grassroots group called Mobility and Opportunity for a Vibrant Future, styling itself as MOVE, had asked for the entire amount to be pumped into Lorain County Transit’s bus fleet in a bid to expand routes.
Commissioners said they needed some of the money to deal with rising expenses — specifically to help stave off a projected $5 million deficit.
When police need to run fingerprints, analyze drunk drivers’ breath tests, or do urine screenings, they turn to the Lorain County crime lab. And when the worst happens, both law enforcement and families rely on the county coroner’s office.
The two are asking for a tax increase of 0.16 mills, which means you would pay an extra $5.60 per year for every $100,000 worth of property you own.
It would generate a little more than $1 million per year.
If successful, the increase would be effective Jan. 1 and continue for five years.
The county health district is responsible for containing breakouts of tuberculosis, a bacterial lung infection that is deadly for about 10 percent of people who contract it if left untreated.
Lorain County had a public TB clinic until 2012, when it was shut down. Now, because state law requires TB services to be available, the county commissioners pay Mercy Regional Medical Center to run its treatment programs for the disease.
Issue 34 asks for 0.065 mills, or an extra $1.92 per year for every $100,000 worth of property you own.
It would raise $410,805 per year.
If passed, collections would start in January 2018 and continue five years.
We’ve written many times about the horrific toll heroin is taking on Lorain County, including the sad frequency with which police, firefighters, and ambulance workers encounter overdose victims.
A central theme has been how heroin isn’t an inner city problem. Coroner Stephen Evans and other experts have repeatedly said the drug is being used in farming communities, suburbs, by grandmothers and grandkids alike, by men and women in equal numbers, and across ethnic, class, religious, and education lines.
Issue 35 aims to provide treatment for opioid addicts, including detox and a residential program to help reduce slide-backs into drug abuse.
If successful, the five-year measure would start appearing on tax bills in 2017 and would raise an estimated $7.8 million per year.
At 1.2 mills, it would amount to an extra $42 per year for every $100,000 worth of property you own.
The Lorain County General Health District is responsible for making inspections at restaurants and public buildings, licensing everything from solid waste disposal to campgrounds, providing immunizations, recording births and deaths, and upholding myriad state health codes.
After expanding its services this year, the district now covers pretty much the entire county, except Elyria and Lorain.
And that’s where it gets interesting: Because more communities are now sharing in LCGHD costs, it can afford to ask for less in levy cash.
The health district is asking for a levy replacement and decrease, taking its existing one-mill levy and cutting it in half.
That means, if passed, you’d pay $11.72 less per year for every $100,000 worth of property you own.
Right now you’re paying about $29.22 per $100,000 valuation.
The levy would generate just shy of $2 million per year with collection starting in 2018.