ELYRIA — A group of about a dozen Lorain County residents gathered Tuesday to express opposition to three issues on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Issues 14, 1 and 8 would, respectively, create a one-stop addiction recovery facility, lower some drug offenses to misdemeanors and provide permanent improvement funds for Lorain County Joint Vocational School.
Volunteers and supporters of Citizens for Better Lorain County Government carried signs reading “No 8, No Unfair Tax” and “No New Taxes” as they stood alongside Middle Avenue, talking to pedestrians and handing out literature.
Jeff Baxter, who described himself as a volunteer with the group, said the group believes Lorain County voters already are over-taxed. He said approval of the ballot questions “will push us higher.”
Issue 14 is a new 0.30-mill levy that would raise about $2 million annually. If approved, it would cost homeowners an estimated $10.50 per year for every $100,000 value on their home, funding Recovery One center housed in the former Golden Acres nursing home at 45999 North Ridge Road in Amherst. The center is a joint facility of the Nord Family Foundation, The LCADA Way, Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services Board of Lorain County, the Lorain County Board of Mental Health and county commissioners.
Baxter said his opposition not only is to the additional tax, but because he doesn’t think Recovery One will be successful in that location.
Curtis Weems, of Avon Lake, who attended the rally, agreed. Both men said that they didn’t believe government should do the job of private enterprise.
Martha Walter, of Carlisle Township, said, “I just don’t want to pay for what (addicts) are using.”
Walter said she would prefer a sales tax so that “everyone pays,” not just property owners. As the owner of a small farm, she said she already pays too much to the county.
Issue 8 is a new permanent improvement 0.75-mill levy to benefit Lorain County JVS would generate about $4.5 million annually, costing homeowners about $26 per year on $100,000 value.
Baxter said he would rather see a renewal levy, which would allow voters to vote for or against the funding periodically, and he said it was too much money to go to JVS.
JVS Superintendent Glenn Faircloth recently said the $4.5 million per year the levy would raise will fund much-needed improvements, including upgrades in fire alarms, sprinklers and electrical systems and driveways.
By law, permanent improvement money is only for the purchase of items that have a life span longer than five years, and the money may not be used for salaries or day-to-day school operations.
Issue 1 would amend the state constitution to lower some drug possession crimes to misdemeanors and would prohibit those convicted from being sent to prison on some offenses in a two-year period.
Baxter said Issue 1 shows him that state legislators aren’t doing their jobs.
“Some of our criminal laws are harsh, I agree, but this is the wrong way to do it,” he said.
Police and judicial groups also have come out against the amendment, saying it may spell the end of specialized drug court dockets like those in Lorain, Cuyahoga, Franklin, Summit, Portage and multiple other Ohio counties.
Reached for comment on claims made at the rally, County Administrator Jim Cordes said he didn’t agree with the content of the protesters’ materials, but also wouldn’t “engage in a back-and-forth over the righteousness of people’s opinions.
“Their issues are their issues, and I respect their right to present them.”
Cordes said Issue 14 is a chance to “embrace those in need” in Lorain County.