Credit: Amy Morona / Signal Cleveland

Cuyahoga County voters again showed their overwhelming support for the area’s community college on Nov. 7. 

Unofficial results show Cuyahoga Community College’s ask for a renewal tax levy and a small increase, appearing on ballots as Issue 5, was passing with about 61% of voters’ support.

College President Michael Baston celebrated the result at the college’s watch party, calling it an “extraordinary night.” 

“County voters really placed their confidence and trust in us,” Baston told the crowd late Tuesday night. “And tonight, once again, we get to say to our voters, we won’t let you down.”

Affordability at the forefront of Issue 5

The measure’s language specifically requested a 2.1 mill renewal tax levy along with a new 0.4 mill increase. This means residents’ property taxes will go up by $14 per year for every $100,000 of their home’s assessed value. 

Officials long stressed that the levy’s proceeds will help keep tuition affordable. County residents currently pay $124.54 per credit hour at Tri-C, lower than Lorain County Community College’s in-county hourly rate of $159.03 and the $127.75 per hour Lake County residents pay at Lakeland Community College. 

Tri-C’s team also underscored how passing this move will help combat rising costs as well as supporting local technical education and workforce training. It’s estimated that 85% of the college’s graduates live and work in the region after graduation. 

Endorsements and enrollment

The win comes after the college saw both an enrollment uptick and a publicity push for the levy this fall.

Baston spoke with lots of media outlets (including this one). A list of the levy’s endorsements included approval from prominent politicians such as Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb and U.S. Rep. Shontel Brown. 

Plus, employees used phone banks to call voters. Flyers touting “affordable education for vital jobs” in big, bold letters hit mailboxes. Yard signs with “Keep Tri-C where futures begin” dotted yards. 

And as Signal Cleveland reported earlier this year, there was a hefty dose of cash to support their efforts. The college’s PAC, Citizens for Cuyahoga Community College, had more than $791,000 on hand in June.

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Higher Education Reporter (she/her)
Amy, who’s worked in both local and national newsrooms for nearly a decade, previously covered higher education at Crain's Cleveland Business in partnership with the national nonprofit news organization Open Campus. A first-generation college graduate, Amy is committed to highlighting the voices of students in her coverage.