Laketran Board of Trustees Returns Money to the Taxpayers

By Brian Massie, A Watchman on the Wall

We have attended the Laketran Board of Trustees several times to ask that they rescind the 1/4% sales tax that they have collected from the Lake County businesses. Here is a video of our last visit to their Board of Trustee meeting.

Lake County Commissioner John Hamercheck

We gladly give a shout-out and a big thanks to Commissioner John Hamercheck for speaking out in favor of the Board of Trustees suspending the sales tax.

Here is a recap of their cash balance: $55.4 million

Here is a recap of their sales tax collections over the past few years: 1/2% sales tax collects $24 million from Lake County businesses.

Press Release from the Laketran website:

Laketran Announces Temporary Suspension on Sales Tax Following Surplus in COVID Relief Funds

Lake County, OH – The Laketran Board of Trustees has voted to temporarily pause the agency’s quarter of one percent sales tax, previously approved by Lake County voters in November 2019. This decision, fueled by a surplus in COVID relief dollars, is set to take effect for a duration of 12 months.

As a result, local taxpayers are expected to save a substantial $12 million during this period, reducing the Lake County sales tax down to 7 percent.

Laketran, the regional transit authority serving Lake County, received a combined total of $22 million in aid from three federal COVID relief programs: the 2020 CARES Act, the 2021 American Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, and the 2021 American Rescue Plan.

Ben Capelle, Laketran’s CEO, expressed, “The COVID relief funds were distributed by formula, and while we took great measures to stabilize the agency and support the community throughout the pandemic, we find ourselves with unspent funds. Consequently, we are utilizing these funds to cover operating expenses to the benefit of both Laketran and the local community.”

Board President Brian Falkowski emphasized Laketran’s commitment to responsible fiscal management, stating, “We strive to earn the trust of our community through efficient service delivery and transparent use of taxpayers’ dollars. In light of the surplus COVID relief funds, we are taking the proactive step of returning these dollars to the taxpayer.”

In addition to the temporary cut in sales tax, Laketran is exploring alternative avenues to allocate remaining COVID relief funds. One initiative under consideration is the establishment of a sidewalk grant fund, aiming to assist local municipalities in expanding their sidewalk networks to enhance pedestrian access and safety for transit users.Posted in Uncategorized

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LFC Comments:

We are certainly glad to hear that the Laketran Board of Trustees decided 5-4 to suspend the collection of the 1/4% Sales Tax, thereby given $12 million per year back to the taxpayers.

However, let’s analyze the numbers from the detailed financial statements they provided us to see what really is happening on the books of Laketran.

We noticed that the “Unrestricted Net Position” in 2022 (meaning funds not committed) was $44.5 million, and in 2023 it was $54.5 million. That means the Unrestricted Net Position grew by $10 million – meaning their cash balance grew because the didn’t need the funds.

By giving $12 million back to the taxpayers, all it means is that their growth in cash will be reduced by $2 million per year. They have more than enough funds to be running a state of the art transit system.

We have heard that Mr. Capelle has contemplated giving $11 million to Fairport Harbor for a marina project. We hope that this is not true. A marina for Fairport Harbor has nothing to do with Laketran services. That $11 million can also be given back to the taxpayers!

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