November 24, 2014

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Elyria to seek charter amendment on elections

ELYRIA — A charter amendment will go before city voters in November to define a municipal election to include both primary and general elections, a move, if approved, that will allow tax issues to go before voters more than once a year.

City officials are just now starting a campaign to convince voters to pass a 0.5 percent income tax renewal, but Monday night Council members unanimously voted to put a companion issue on the ballot to expand when it can seek levies. The issue is similar to one voters shot down in November 2012 when an attempt was made to change language that was only added to the charter in 2007.

“At that time, it was a change to the municipal income tax section and it got very confusing,” said Law Director Scott Serizan. “This is a much shorter section that is easier to read and ultimately accomplishes the same thing.”

Passing the income tax renewal is the most important issue the city faces right now, said Mayor Holly Brinda. She calls the money it generates — roughly $6 million a year — critical to the city. It would be devastating for the city if it failed along with the charter change — a companion piece that would open the door for a second attempt in May that just beats the June 30, 2014, expiration date.

“Right now, we have one opportunity to pass this renewal in November,” she said. “Changing the charter is a very good idea to have other options. With such a critical issue and there is so much riding on this, we have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure the safety and welfare of our electors and the way to do that is to make sure they have choices.”

If the renewal fails in November, Finance Director Ted Pileski has long said he would have to lower the estimated revenue for 2014 by $3 million, which is the equivalent to a half-year of non-collection.

Serazin said when proponents, who had soured on the idea of using special elections to request more tax dollars, placed the referendum on the ballot regarding income tax proposals they likely read the charter believing it meant primary elections. However, when former Law Director Terry “Pete” Shilling interpreted the language of the issue that voters passed he interpreted it to mean just the November election.

“He had very good reason to interpret it that way because the charter indicated that a municipal election was in fact a general election. It never defined it to mean primary election,” Serizan said. “This is one sentence added to a section that basically says a municipal election is a general or primary election. The upshot of it is that a levy can be put on during a primary, too, which is the way it always was before there was that charter amendment.”

Councilman Mark Craig, I-4th Ward, who backed the 2007 referendum, said he agrees “municipal election” should be defined as a primary or general election.

“I always did,” he said. “This is the clarity we needed and I believe the spirit of the referendum is intact.”

Councilman Vic Stewart, D-at large, said the issue does give the city a safeguard in case the renewal does not pass.

“But, make no mistake, all energy in the city will be focused on passing this the first time this November,” he said.

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


  • Barbara Ann Fairall

    NO…NO…NO!!!! The citizens have spoken on this issue many times. This was tried under the old administration and now it is being tried again under a new administration? I am one citizen who again will be saying a loud NO!!!!!!!!!!!! There is still way too much “fat” in this City. Since when do we need not one…but several HUGE SUVs for the police department? There needs to be changes in economic development. Elyria is losing a lot of businesses and this tactic puts the blame on its citizens and forces us to bear the brunt of the loss of these businesses…WAKE UP ELYRIA!—If this is in triplicate…it seems that my postings just disappear.

  • Mark B

    The City provides way too many Vehicles to Employees as it is , The Cost of a average Full size PickUp Truck is right around $50,000 and there are many many many of them being provided to city workers that DO NOT need them on a full time basis. Put this on the Ballot and just to make my voice heard even louder , i promise i will also vote no on the Tax Renewal. Cut some fat and you will not have to ask us taxpayers for money 2 times a year. Trust me the people of Elyria are getting fed up with all of the waste and are continually ask to pony up more tax money only to see city owned vehicles riding all over town and never seeing anyone out doing any work from them. Not to mention you see them parked all over town, and being driven around on the weekends.

  • Mark B

    The CT is playing politics as usuall with ths story , its funny how they are selective on what stories they put on The Facebook page, and how they moderate and either delete or just not post comments here on the CT page because it may be Negitive towards the Mayor or city leaders.

  • bigmacky

    It just baffles me that the amount of supervisors to workers in Elyria is so skewed. Didn’t the audit point this out? and I still don’t see the need for take home vehicles outside the city. and yes I have seen 2-3 “workers” in a vehicle just cruising. or a city vehicle outside the city limits (Oberlin road Circle K) or by 254. do we really need that many safety service directors? – in the private sector – Middle Management is the first to go – not the workers – but hey its Elyria and we have short memories

  • bigmacky

    oh and one more thing – what’s up with all the “director of” titles? sheesh gotta inflate that ego – I am now director of grass grooming and executive director of potholes

  • Suzan Smith

    Vehicles or no – voters must make the to tax or not to tax decisions. Ask as many times as you like – we can always say NO to tax increases.

  • elyrian64

    This is the same tactic that Elyria Schools use…..if you vote it down they put it back on again and again until it passes. The strategy they use is if they put it back on during say August or a time when a number of citizens are on vacation or nothing more important is on the ballot the thought is only the people who want the levy to pass will bother to go out and vote. Oh wait a minute Mayor Brinda was on the school board and before that a school employee so of course she would know that is how to get what you want.