November 28, 2014

Elyria
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Elyria voters reject expansion of when city can seek levies

ELYRIA — Voters in Elyria only want to see tax issues one time a year — during November general elections.

An attempt to change the charter to allow for proposals on primary ballots failed, according to unofficial election results. Of the eight charter amendments Elyria voters saw on the ballot Tuesday, they resoundingly rejected Issue 54 with a vote of 9,469 votes, or 54 percent, against the change to 7,948 votes, or 46 percent, for the change.

The loss was disappointing for Mayor Holly Brinda, who campaigned hard for the change, saying it would give voters back the right to vote on tax issues in a manner that was proactive rather than reactive.

However, she acknowledges voters were probably thrown by the mere mention of the word tax in the summary language on the ballot.

“I had people tell me Tuesday that they voted for my tax issue when it was not a tax issue,” she said. “But it’s hard to get past that word for some voters.”

Voters did make some changes to the city charter. The minor changes like changing the title of the auditor to finance director and finance director to administrative finance counsel passed easily, as did a measure that would allow the city to have a separate health district or combine with another health district if it chooses.

Changes are also coming to the way elected officials can be recalled and the Civil Service Commission.

The Civil Service Commission can now use merit and fitness as qualifications for police officer candidates who have already served another municipality or who have successfully passed the police academy. It allows prior law enforcement experience to count and not force those candidates to take written exams.

The biggest changes to the recall provision include requiring a written notice to the Clerk of Council that the recall of a particular official is being sought.

From that moment, proponents of a recall have 120 days to circulate petitions that must be delivered to the clerk’s office. If an insufficient number of signatures have been obtained, the circulators will not have an opportunity to collect additional signatures. If the petitions are deemed valid with a sufficient number of signatures, a recall vote will be held at the next municipal, state primary or general election. A special election cannot be held.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.