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Lorain County petition drives coming up

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AMHERST — Two groups who oppose the Lorain County commissioners’ imposition of a 0.25 percent sales tax increase will hold separate petition drives Saturday.

Although the two groups aren’t coordinating, leaders in both efforts said Saturday that the Dec. 14 vote by the commissioners to impose the sales tax, which went into effect April 1, has motivated a lot of people to sign their petitions.

“Most people who are signing the sales tax petitions are the same ones who want to (sign ours),” former county Commissioner Dave Moore said.

Moore is among those pushing a county government reform plan that would replace the current three at-large commissioners with a county council of seven members elected from separate districts. The proposal also calls for making the county recorder, treasurer and coroner appointed instead of elected positions.

The measure has twice failed to gather enough signatures to win a place on the ballot, but Moore said the latest effort is more organized and there are volunteers and paid staff gathering signatures.

Many of those will be involved in the door-to-door effort he has planned for Saturday. Moore said the plan is to target areas in Avon, Amherst, Elyria, North Ridgeville, Wellington and other communities where voters shot down a 0.25 percent sales tax increase in November by more than 80 percent.

The proposed increase would have brought in about $10 million per year for county operations and improved public transportation. The commissioners’ decision to impose a sales tax so soon after voters rejected it is also a driving force behind an effort to force the increase to the ballot.

Although Assistant County Prosecutor Gerald Innes has said there is no legal way to put such a referendum on the ballot, Avon Lake lawyer Gerald Phillips, who represents the group behind the petition, has insisted it is allowed under the law.

Brandon Bobbitt, coordinator of the Lorain County Libertarians, said Saturday that his group will host its first large-scale petition drive 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Main Street Community Center, 255 Park Ave., Amherst.

Bobbitt said although he supports the plan to reform county government, it has nothing to do with the sales tax opposition he’s involved in. He said the two events were scheduled separately.

Moore said he plans to send someone to the Libertarian event to try to gather signatures from those who show up to sign the anti-tax petition because he thinks there’s crossover appeal.

Bobbitt also is one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed against county and state officials challenging the legality of the commissioners’ vote to impose the sales tax. Innes has said the commissioners acted properly.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @BradDickenCT.



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