Laketran seeking 10-year 0.25 percent sales tax

Laketran is asking voters in the Nov. 5 General Election to approve a 0.25 percent sales tax for 10 years.

According to election officials, there are 152,284 registered voters in Lake County.

If passed, the transit agency starting in 2020 would receive 25 cents per every $100 in taxable goods purchased in Lake County. Laketran is operating on its original tax levy from 1988.

Officials have said the issue would allow Laketran to meet the growing demand for accessible transportation for Lake County seniors, people with disabilities and veterans. It would also improve job access to important manufacturing corridors like Tyler Boulevard and Heisley Road — where there are more than 300 employers and 7,500 jobs.

To date, Lake County residents rely on Laketran over 2,500 times a day, equaling 750,000 times a year, the agency reports. Over 60 percent of Laketran trips get residents to work or school, including seniors and people with disabilities.

In addition, Dial-a-Ride, the agency’s door-to-door, assisted transportation shared-ride service ridership, has grown 18 percent since 2015, with Lake County’s senior population continuing to grow. Over 75 percent of the funds from the tax would be used to sustain Dial-a-Ride service and meet the growing demand, while remaining funds will expand routes to improve job access.

Laketran Board President Brian Falkowski said sales tax revenue is the agency’s only sustainable source of revenue, which makes up 65 percent of its operating budget.

“Coming back to the community for new money was not a decision we took lightly, but we are the only agency I know of in Lake County operating off its original levy and we’ve stretched that revenue for over 30 years.”

Laketran CEO Ben Capelle also noted that as ridership increases, funding continues to decline, including a loss of $800,000 from the state alone in 2019.

“Funding for public transportation has always been volatile since there is no dedicated source of funding at the state level,” he said.

“Over the past five years, trips to medical appointments for seniors has increased 53 percent, and work trips, often for people with disabilities, have gone up by 21 percent,” he added. “Trips to local senior centers, too, have increased by 27 percent this year alone.”