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Politics is big in these parts, and we’ve got it covered. John Arthur Hutchison and other staff writers will offer their inside information on the events, big news and little moments of the local political scene in Lake, Geauga and eastern Cuyahoga counties.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

More than one component to sales tax plan

As expected, Lake County commissioners voted to raise the county’s piggyback sales rate by 0.5 percent, but there are other critical components to the overall package.

One is commissioners intend to reduce the user fees rates paid into the county Stormwater Management Department next year by 50 percent.

Fourteen communities are part of the county department that helps them comply with federal regulations to improve stormwater quality.

Fees from these communities currently generate about $2.043 million annually for the department, which in turn uses the revenue to fund, partially fund, or leverage additional dollars to pay for projects designed to clean stormwater runoff.

Cutting those fees in half would mean about $1.021 million annually for the program.

Residential parcel owners now pay $9.60 annually in communities that participate in Level 1 service and $30 annually for residential parcel owners in communities that have Level 2 service.

So next year, those fees would be cut in half to make it $4.80 annually for Level 1 and $15 annually for Level 2.

That means stormwater officials will prioritize the projects that are the most critical and which are the most cost-effective. Maybe a project (or a few) won’t go forward.

Despite the loss of revenue to the department, there’s a possibility of an unforeseen effect.

If you remember, one early criticism of the program when it first was implemented was that the fees were too expensive for people to pay, so some communities decided to comply with the federal requirements on their own.

Maybe with the fees cut in half next year, other communities might consider joining the county program?

The other component of the package is that commissioners agreed to reduce the property tax inside millage dedicated to the county’s general fund.

Currently, the rate is 2.1 mills, and commissioners will reduce the rate for residential and commercial property owners to 1 mill. For each $100,000 of property valuation, 2.1 mills generates $64.31 per year; 1 mill would generate $30.63 per year.

What that means is property owners within the county get a break. They will pay an estimated $7 million less overall to the county’s general fund based on current values beginning next year, according to the county Auditor’s Office.

For Mentor, Lake County’s largest community, property owners within the city would pay an estimated $1.658 million less annually than they would based on current values. Concord Township property owners would pay an estimated $690,656 less overall, and those in Eastlake would pay $509,872 less overall.

Broken down by cities, villages and townships, the amount of savings combined for residential and commercial property owners based on current values is $4.611 million, $588,392, and $1.75 million respectively.

Special event

Retirement party for Willoughby resident Barry Feathers, who for 34 years has run the snack shop in the basement of the Lake County Courthouse in Painesville. Festivities will be held at the snack shop from noon to 3 p.m. Tuesday, his last day on the job.


n Christine Page, candidate for Lake County auditor, will host a Groundhog Day Party from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 2 at Stadium Grille in Mentor. See Michele Woltman.

n Fundraiser for James Helmink, candidate for state representative Ohio House District 60, with special guest state Sen. Capri Cafaro, 6 to 8pm. Feb. 9, at Cappelli’s in Mentor. See Michael Wagner or Helmink.

n Leap Day event for 11th District Court of Appeals Judge Mary Jane Trapp, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 29 at Willoughby Hills Community Center. See Kathy DiCristofaro or Mike Apicella.

John Arthur Hutchison
Twitter: @newsheraldjah


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