ELYRIA – For many voters, election day will be the first time they will learn that the city also hopes to change the city charter to define a municipal election to include both primary and general elections.
City Council placed the issue on the November ballot as a safeguard in case Issue 5, which deals with the city’s five-year, temporary 0.5 percent income tax, does not pass.
However, there will be little promotion of Issue 6 in the weeks leading up to the election.
Mayor Holly Brinda said the city has been advised not to push both issues. Rather, the city will focus on the much-needed tax renewal that is worth $6 million in annual revenue.
“It’s not because it’s not needed, but it could confuse voters,” she said. “Issue 5 is much too critical for the city not to pass because of confusion.”
If voters pass Issue 6, it would allow tax issues to go before voters more than once a year. But city officials are not naïve in believing voters will support such a move. It has been tried twice before and rejected both times.
An earlier charter amendment that was approved limited tax issues to the November ballot.
“Issue 6 is a safety net — not because we want to ask for more money, but residents deserve the opportunity to play a part in key financial decisions more than once a year,” Brinda said.
The city’s is getting a lot of help this election season from Burges & Burges Strategists of Cleveland, which is often hired by local political subdivisions and school districts to gauge public opinion on tax issues.
The firm conducted targeted research through 30 one-on-one, in-depth telephone interviews back in July to see how potentials voters felt about the income tax renewal and nowhere in the 12-page document written to reflect those interviews is Issue 6 mentioned.
Instead, Burges & Burges advises city officials to run a clean, concise and clear campaign about the renewal.
“Initial thoughts about the renewal levy indicate that it is perceived as a `necessity,’ ” the report said. “… The campaign needs to focus on honest messages that exude a sense of ‘positivity’ and needs to avoid messages that are perceived as ‘threats.’ ”
Council members, who voted unanimously to place Issue 6 on the ballot, said they have not actively spoken on the issue.
“I have to stay focused on Issue 5. If Issue 5 doesn’t pass, this city will never recovery from cutting $3 million next year and $6 million the following year,” Councilman Vic Stewart, D-at large, said.
Stewart said he believes a limited number of voters will decide the city’s fate come November. He estimates Elyria’s voter turnout will likely be just be 15 percent, a little better than the 12 percent turnout in May.
“It will be those diehard voters that always go to the polls and vote,” he said. “Hopefully, those are the people who know the importance of the income tax issue and will vote in favor of their city. Those are the people we are targeting to make sure they are very informed.”
Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or firstname.lastname@example.org.