Laketran board votes to return $12 million to taxpayers

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.