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Understanding the Cuyahoga County levy calendar

Will Tarter
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July 8, 2019
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Cuyahoga County will face several major public policy decisions in the near future. In this post, we will share an updated snapshot of levies currently in place in Cuyahoga County, as well as discuss how much the levies cost and how money is allocated. The Center for Community Solutions hopes that this piece will serve as a resource for voters, organizations in their educational efforts and officials in their strategic planning.

 The Center for Community Solutions hopes that this piece will serve as a resource for voters, organizations in their educational efforts and officials in their strategic planning.

Cuyahoga County did not have any major spending levies on the May 2019 ballot. However, that will change in fall 2019 and next year in 2020. Here are all of the levies that will be presented in Cuyahoga County.

Cuyahoga County Health and Human Services levies

There are two Cuyahoga County Health and Human Services (HHS) levies. One is a 3.9 mill levy that was last passed in 2018 for a two-year renewal. It is set to expire in 2020. It is one of two levies (along with a 4.8 mill* levy that was passed in 2016) that fund health and human services. When combined, the two levies bring in $239 million annually. Combined, the levies cost a homeowner $266 in annual property taxes for every $100,000 of home value. The county faces a hard choice for the upcoming levy in 2020 as the Cuyahoga County HHS levy fund will face a shortfall of $33.5 million in 2020. That shortfall is projected to grow to $105 million by 2022.[1] Citizens just went through a housing reappraisal process, so it remains to be seen if the county will choose to renew, replace or increase the levy in 2020. We don’t yet know if the county will ask for an increase in levy funds and if it does, how much that increase will be. The HHS levies support institutions such as MetroHealth, the Alcohol, Drug Addiction, Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) Board of Cuyahoga County, Child and Family Services, Job and Family Services (JFS), the Department of Senior and Adult Services, and many more. For more information on the Cuyahoga County HHS levies, please read the April 2017, edition of County Budgeting Matters here.

 The county faces a hard choice for the upcoming levy in 2020 as the Cuyahoga County HHS levy fund will face a shortfall of $33.5 million in 2020.

Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) levies

Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) has two alternating 10-year operating levies, with separate renewals, five years apart. In 2020, a 1.9 mill levy for Tri-C will expire. Recently, Tri-C’s Board of Trustees, approved putting the levy on the ballot in fall of 2019 with a 0.4 mill increase.[2] The levy currently brings in $51.7 million a year and costs a homeowner $52.07 in annual property taxes for every $100,000 of home value, if the increase is approved, in 2020 the levy will cost a homeowner an additional $13.68 annually for every $100,000 of home value. When combined with the other Tri-C levy, the levies bring in 46 percent of the college’s $228.8 million annual budget.[3] Election day is November 5.

 If the increase is approved, in 2020 the levy will cost a homeowner an additional $13.68 annually for every $100,000 of home value.

In addition to the two operating levies, Tri-C also receives money from a 25-year capital bond levy. In November 2017, 68 percent of Cuyahoga County voters approved a 25-year bond levy for Tri-C. The levy raises $227.5 million for renovation and construction across all campuses. For more information: Tri-C Financial Information Report.

Cuyahoga County Port Authority levy

The Port Authority levy is among the smallest county tax levies (.13 mills) and costs the average homeowner approximately $3.45 for every $100,000 of home value. The levy brings in approximately $3 million annually,[5] which amounts to 27 percent of the total budget for the agency.[6] The renewal levy last passed, by a measure of 65 percent of voters in favor of it to 35 percent against, in November 2017. The levy is set to expire in 2022. The Port of Cleveland uses most levy funds for current and future maritime and environmental infrastructure projects, such as Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve, Irish Town Bend Stabilization efforts and Flotsom and Jetsom workboat operations. Less than a third of levy funds are spent on Port of Cleveland general operations (which vary from year to year). For more information: www.portofcleveland.com.

 The levy brings in approximately $3 million annually, which amounts to 27 percent of the total budget for the agency.

Cleveland Metroparks levy

Passed in 2013, the Cleveland Metroparks passed a 2.7 mill, 10-year levy which will expire in 2023. The levy brings in approximately $76 million annually and costs the average homeowner $96.25 for every $100,000 in home value. The Metroparks levy comprises 60 percent of the revenue of the Cleveland Metroparks budget.[7] The Metroparks is comprised of 18 reservations spanning more than 23,000 acres with more than 300 miles of trails, eight golf courses, eight lakefront parks and the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.[8] Cleveland Metroparks supports nearly 18 million recreational visits each year. An economic driver, Cleveland Metroparks contributes at least $873 million annually in economic benefits to the community. For more information: Cleveland Metroparks Final Budget

 An economic driver, Cleveland Metroparks contributes at least $873 million annually in economic benefits to the community.

Cuyahoga County Arts and Culture levy

The Cuyahoga Arts and Culture (CAC) levy is one of the largest local public funders for arts and culture in the nation. The levy last passed in 2015, with more than 75 percent approval, the highest approval rate of any county ballot issue in the past 10 years.[9] The CAC levy, which charges $.30 per pack on cigarettes, brought in $14,120,657 in 2018 and expires in 2027. The tax revenue makes up 100 percent of the overall organization budget. Since 2007, CAC has invested more than $182 million in more than 400 organizations. Interestingly, the amount[10] coming into the organization from cigarette taxes has been steadily falling, so the county will have to make a fiscal decision moving forward. For more information: cacgrants.org.

 The CAC levy, which charges $.30 per pack on cigarettes, brought in $14,120,657 in 2018 and expires in 2027.

Cuyahoga County Public Library levy

The Cuyahoga County Public Library has a 2.5 mill continuing levy that is sourced through property taxes in the 47 communities served by the library system. The levy passed in 2008 and brings in $42.7 million per year. The levy costs a homeowner $75.67 per $100,000 in home valuation, per year.[11] The levy makes up nearly 65 percent of the library’s operating budget.[12] The levy remains in perpetuity and is not subject to a vote. According to the library, CCPL’s levy funding supports county residents of all ages who rely on the library for access to technology, books, digital content and programs. For more information, check out the Cuyahoga County Library Annual Financial Report.

 The levy makes up nearly 65 percent of the library’s operating budget.

Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities levy

Nearly 60 percent of the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities’ budget comes from a 3.9 mill continuing levy that was passed in 2005.[13] At that time, the levy brought in $117 million per year. Today, the levy brings in approximately $106 million per year.[[14]](http://www.cuyahogabdd.org/pdf%5FBDD/en-US/2431 Annual Final.pdf) The levy costs a homeowner $120 in annual property taxes for every $100,000 of home valuation. The levy remains in perpetuity and is not subject to a vote. For more information check out the 2018 Annual Report.

 Today, the levy brings in approximately $106 million per year.

Excise tax

Finally, the county levies an excise tax (also known as “sin tax”) from the sales of cigarettes and alcohol, which goes to capital maintenance over $500,000 of Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, Progressive Field and Cleveland Browns Stadium. Last passed in 2014, the sin tax brings in between $13 and $14 million per year, from 2015 through 2035.

The decision-makers

The elected officials who will make the decisions regarding the future of levies are the Cuyahoga County Executive and Cuyahoga County Council. Half of Cuyahoga County Council, Districts 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11, was up for election (or re-election) in 2018. The other half of the council, Districts 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10, is up for election (or re-election) in 2020. The next County Executive election will take place in November 2022.

 As Cuyahoga County moves forward, it will be important for voters to learn about the impact of levies on organizations, as well as the impact on the overall community.

As Cuyahoga County moves forward, it will be important for voters to learn about the impact of levies on organizations, as well as the impact on the overall community. Community Solutions will continue to examine and explain how each levy impacts services and citizens.  

[1] https://fiscalofficer.cuyahogacounty.us/pdf%5Ffiscalofficer/en-US/obm/2019/2019-1stQuarter.pdf  

[2] https://www.tri-c.edu/news-and-events/news/tri-c-board-approves-levy-for-november-ballot.html  

[3] http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2014/11/cuyahoga%5Fcommunity%5Fcollege%5Ftax.html  

[4] http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2014/11/cuyahoga%5Fcommunity%5Fcollege%5Ftax.html  

[5] https://digital.case.edu/concern/texts/ksl:ech-ccpa  

[6] http://www.thepostnewspapers.com/north%5Froyalton/local%5Fnews/voters-approve-cleveland-cuyahoga-county-port-authority-tax-levy/article%5F273a420f-c138-5cc3-9aa5-596134c6f059.html  

[7] https://www.clevelandmetroparks.com/getmedia/44568d69-eef2-4e2a-b75f-349c4c9e4065/2019-Final-Budget.pdf.ashx  

[8] https://clevelandmetroparks.com/about  

[9] http://www.cleveland.com/arts/index.ssf/2015/12/official%5Felection%5Fresults%5Fdeta.html  

[10] https://www.cleveland.com/onstage/2017/02/cuyahoga%5Farts%5Fand%5Fculture%5Fweig.html  

[11] http://www.news-herald.com/article/HR/20080920/NEWS/309209957  

[12] http://www.cleveland.com/education/index.ssf/2008/09/success%5Fat%5Fthe%5Fcuyahoga%5Fcounty.html  

[13] https://comsolutionst.wpengine.com/cuyahoga-county-hhsa-committee-2/  

[14] http://www.cuyahogabdd.org/pdf%5FBDD/en-US/2431%20Annual%20Final.pdf

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