September 2, 2014

Elyria
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City’s plans need money


Elyria 2015 group floats tax to fund improvements

ELYRIA — The Steering Committee for the Elyria 2015 plan has talked about a 0.25 percentage point income tax increase to fund proposals such as pumping up the police department and making downtown improvements.

The tax increase idea was batted around — along with several others, including bringing more businesses to town to generate revenue — at a recent Steering Committee meeting. The group is made up of residents charged with coming up with a direction for the city’s future.

Members plan to release a final report of their ideas to City Council in December.

Such a tax increase would bring in about $3 million, which could go a long way toward improving the city, members of the group said Wednesday.

Mayor Bill Grace, who brought up the increase at the steering committee meeting, said that while the proposal was just being tossed around as a possible idea, the fact remains that the city will have to come up with funding soon.

“The 2015 planning process has many items that were identified as needs by residents, including stronger police, recreational facilities, park improvements, downtown improvements and mall improvements. All of which cost money, and some of which cost considerable money,” he said.

One area that money likely won’t go is to the Fire Department, which has seen staffing cuts from a minimum of 17 per shift to 14 to try to curb overtime within the department.

Grace said the Fire Department was not one of the areas that residents chose for improvements when public meetings were held last year to decide the direction Elyria ought to go. Hundreds of residents attended the meetings, where they plugged their city spending preferences into computers.

Terry Korzan, who sits on the Elyria 2015 committee for utilities, services and safety, said he would not be opposed to the money helping the Fire Department.

In fact, one of the ideas he’s heard mentioned at the meetings is to relocate Elyria Fire Station No. 2 from Broad Street to the southeast corner of the city if that area undergoes a growth spurt.

“We would only do that if it developed all the way down there,” he said. “I don’t know the chances of that happening, but 15 years down the road, who knows?"

Most members agreed with Grace that the money should only be spent on areas that residents agreed to. Matt St. Marie, who sits on the Downtown and Midway District Committee, said it’s the residents’ money they’d be working with, after all.

“I would refer back to those lists people wrote out,” St. Marie said. “That’s what the people want."

Contact Adam Wright at 653-6257 or awright@chroniclet.com.