“I live in a place where it is a 30 minute walk and a three minute drive to campus. My friends help me get to school, but I can’t always
depend on them,” said Lorain County Community College international student and student senate member Jinnie Lee.
Transportation, or rather the lack thereof in Lorain County, is in decline. Due to budget cuts and failed tax levies it only serves to continue in a downwards spiral. The latest attempt, on the November 2016 ballot, to try and prevent further decline came in the form of a tax levy that proposed a 0.25 percent tax split between general funding and public transit.
Federally only $1 million is supplied for public transit in Ohio and only $120,000 is provided by the state. In an effort to balance out the state budget, Ohio Governor John Kasich cut the county budgets, resulting in a loss of funding for county services.
“We are only able to put about $50,000 in for transit, which enables us [Lorain County] to run four bus routes,” said Matt Lundy, the president of the Lorain County Board of Commissioners. Lorain County received $9 million from Columbus for the sustainability of the local government, but now due to aforementioned budget cuts they only receive $3 million total. The greatest source of revenue comes from the county’s sales tax that currently sits at 6.5 percent, but 5.75 percent of that tax goes right back into the state for state budget concerns rather than to the county.
“Decreased funding leads to reduction in service,” said Pamela Novak, the Lorain County Transit chief finance officer.
Over the past decade, local government departments have been cut in an attempt to save sorely needed money.
“Our street department only has 14 people servicing 55,000 people in Lorain County,” Lundy provided as an example of the drastic budget cuts.
Lundy is an advocate for transportation on the board, stating a concern for the declining state of public transit in the county.
In June 2015, early polling showed that county residents were in favor of supporting a tax levy that would fund public transit, but two-thirds of the commissioners board were not comfortable with a levy solely for transit when it could be combined with a levy for general funding. The 0.25 percent levy was a compromise that marginally satisfied both sides.
“The populace did not like the mingling of ideas,” said Lundy. “It was a five year commitment.”
The levy was placed on the November 2016 ballot, and the response overwhelmingly shut down the proposed levy: 97,602 Against to 33,959 For.
“[The] county government always has difficulty passing bills designed to help,” said Lundy. “The problem isn’t going to go away on its own, it [the government] needs money to accomplish anything.”
Change is never easy to come by, especially when taxes are involved, according to Lundy.
“People need to be willing to change, striving to take the next step. Times change so people need to as well,” said Lundy. “We also need to be able to have a disagreement and come away still on good standing.”
LCCC works closely with the commissioners to better the economic gaps in the community, such as those pertaining to transit. LCCC is a stepping stone for people seeking to better their skills, which is helpful now that job positions are becoming increasingly tied to wages earned.
The need for better transportation not only helps the students, but it would provide the campus with more accessibility to those who wish to attend but cannot due to the lack of a car or other means of transit.
“There is already a bus that is going to the school apartments, I just hope that it could stop near our street as well. There are lots of students living around the area who don’t have a car. I keep requesting a change but there have been none,” Lee said.