Murray Ridge Calls for Tax Levy to Continue Services

Elizabeth Dobbins, Staff Writer

The 2013 primary election for Lorain County will be held on Tuesday, May 7. Issue 1, if passed, would continue a property tax that covers 24 percent of Murray Ridge Center’s funding. Murray Ridge Center, also known as the Lorain County Board of Developmental Disabilities, offers services and educational opportunities for people with developmental disabilities in Lorain County.

“The passage of Issue 1 is necessary for the preservation of lifelong services for nearly 2,000 Lorain County children and adults with developmental disabilities,” Amber Fisher, Murray Ridge superintendent, said in an e-mail to the Review.

Murray Ridge Center is currently funded by a property tax levy that the passage of Issue 1 would renew for another five years. For a property owner, this tax levy costs about 12 additional dollars a year, or three cents a day per $100,000 of home value. The tax levy not only directly raises money for Murray Ridge Center but also helps bring in federal funding.

“The … reason that this particular funding is so crucial is that they get government loans and grants that are based on the ability of the center itself to match the government’s input. So unless they’re able to raise a certain amount then they won’t get any funding from other sources,” said Molly Brand, Oberlin College Democrats co-chair and sophomore Politics major.

“They already have a wait list of people … [and] are not able to serve everyone on that list, so they’re already being not funded enough to keep up with demand. … [If] they lose this money it could be disastrous,” said Brand.

Murray Ridge Center provides a range of services including education, residential living, adult day services, early intervention and resources providing information about developmental disabilities. The center also has a supported employment program, which helps people with developmental disabilities find jobs at places like Stevenson and Dascomb Dining Halls.

“I feel that the services offered to people in this county, folks with disabilities and also their families, [are] an extremely valuable and there’s not a whole lot else that exists like it in the county,” said current Murray Ridge employee Kyle Brandt-Lubart, OC ’10. “It’s really got a wide breadth of services offered that are pretty crucial to the quality of life of folks with disabilities and the quality of life for their families.”

The Murray Ridge Center tax levy is a property tax, so neither the College, due to its nonprofit status, nor the students who live on campus do not contribute to it, as they do not pay property tax. Nevertheless, College sophomore and OC Democrats historian Pauline Schwartzman feels that student involvement is still important in these issues.

“We do live here nine months out of the year,” said Schwartzman. “It’s still important to at least understand what the local issues are and get involved in them even if they maybe don’t directly affect you and even if you choose not to vote for or against the tax levy. I think even just being more aware [of] what the Murray Ridge Center is and what it does is really important.”

The May 7 ballot also includes two other proposed tax levies, one to fund the County Sheriff’s Drug Task Force and a levy to fund Lorain County Transit. The Lorain County Transit levy proposes a sales tax that would raise about $250,000 a year to provide funding for the resumption of some of the previously cut bus routes.

“It’s very important if people are going to register to vote here for federal and state-level issues that they pay attention to local issues, as well, as part of their responsibility of being a registered voter where you’re a registered voter,” said Brandt-Lubart. “It’s great to be able to vote on the president but when really important things are happening in your local community, it’s equally important.”