November 26, 2014

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Sheffield Lake levy failure means cuts most likely to fire, police

Sheffield Lake firefighters stand outside a home after a fire on Oct. 23. The city's full-time Fire Department will be disbanded after voters rejected a levy. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

Sheffield Lake firefighters stand outside a home after a fire on Oct. 23. The city’s full-time Fire Department will be cut after voters rejected a levy. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

SHEFFIELD LAKE — The city most likely will see its full-time Fire Department disbanded and cuts to its police force after voters rejected an income tax increase Nov. 5.

“It’s a huge snowball effect,” an frustrated Sheffield Lake Mayor Dennis Bring said. “Start taking pride in (the) community.”

The 0.5 percent income tax increase, which would have raised about $500,000 annually, failed by 18 votes, according to unofficial election returns. That was the second time that the levy has been proposed and failed. In May, the proposal lost by 148 votes.

City Council met Tuesday to address the city’s budget woes and to discuss how the lack of extra funds would affect city departments, especially the Fire Department. Bring said the city is in the process of switching to a part-time volunteer Fire Department in its place.

For Fire Chief Tim Card, it is a daunting task.

“I don’t think that’s going to work at Sheffield Lake,” Card said, adding that homeowner’s insurance will increase if the city loses its full-time Fire Department. The budget strains — ongoing since 2009 — already have forced the department to reduce staffing. Of late, full-time firefighters have been working overtime to make up for the loss of manpower.

Bring said eliminating the full-time Fire Department won’t be enough to ward off the $600,000 deficit. Other departments will be cut.

The Police Department will stop responding to certain, non-life-threatening calls or requests, including small neighborly disputes and watching Sheffield Lake residents’ houses when they go out of town, Bring said. Both are services that police have offered in the past.

Sheffield Lake residents also can expect to see less-extensive road maintenance. The Maintenance Department only will be able to plow and salt intersections and major roads.

“We just don’t have the manpower,” Bring said.

For Bring, one of the most disappointing aspects of the levy’s rejection is what he sees as the apathy from residents in the town.

“Come down and get the facts … see where the money is going,” Bring said, adding that many Sheffield Lake voters did not know how the rejection of the tax increase could affect the town. “This is what you voted for.”

Contact Anna Merriman at 329-7245 or amerriman@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter at @AnnaLMerriman.


  • Macdaddyoh

    Too bad for the protectors of the city….why do city officials lean towards trying to scare the public when an issued don’t pass? It would be nice to hear “If you dont pass issue “whatever”, the city inspectors, auditors, utility department and law director will lose their job”. How about that for a change? Leave the guys who put their lives on the line alone and pay them more.

  • outdoorslvr

    Residents would be better served by a volunteer Mayor. Prediction: Bring will need police, fire or rescue for himself or his family sometime…. he will get a Lifecare EMT (not a Paramedic, by the way) or a security guard. Karma…..

  • Rosa Garcia-Gee

    Our Mayor campaigned hard for Issue 18. He really did want to see it pass.
    He is part time and earns $8,800.00 yearly. That comes out to less than $170.00 a week.
    I can understand those that voted against 18 because they felt they could not afford the tax. But……
    A few that voted in this last election voted against 18 because of a personal dislike for an individual. A few actually voted against 18 only because they had received a speeding ticket . A few voted against 18 just because Dollar General is moving to a new location.
    In my personal opinion some of these reasons are nothing more then
    ( any excuse will do ) and could be considered borderline childish.
    SHEFFIELD LAKE 1-A = 1529 registered voters /407 voted = 26.62%
    SHEFFIELD LAKE 2-A = 1392 registered voters /383 voted = 27.51%
    SHEFFIELD LAKE 3-A = 1510 registered voters / 368 voted = 24.37%
    SHEFFIELD LAKE 4-A = 1625 registered voters / 386 voted = 23.75%
    755 vote for Issue 18 = 49.41% …… 773 voted against 18 = 50.59%

    • Mark B

      That is the risk you take when you run a speed trap city, Every time a cop writes a resident a ticket , that is just one more alienated voter. Especially when it is for just a couple miles over the limit. The police are supposed to Protect and Serve, not extort money out of everyone at every turn.

  • stop ur whining

    congrats Sheffield Lake!!!! you just completely FU@#ed yourselves. if you thought it was bad now….just wait. Very very very rarely should a city ever cut funding for police and by very, very, very rarely i mean NEVER! in the next 6 months to a year as your crime rate climbs and your population declines just remember you asked for it.

    • MZee

      uh, they didn’t cut funding for police. The voters elected not to pay more for the police, in essence cutting it themselves.

      That said, I wonder where all the money that was coming in has gone. Sure, costs have gone up, but you usually eliminate a position or two to compensate – not an entire force (as in the fire dept).

      At least it wasn’t a property tax increase. You know, the type where property “owners” (we don’t own the property, we rent it each year in the form of taxes… we own our home, which said tax people can put a lien against… what a conundrum) have to pay more tax because those who don’t pay property taxes get to vote on the tax increase… those same “non-owners” don’t pay school taxes either.

  • Always Love

    The “townies” have yet again hindered the potential for the city to grow or appeal to potential new residents because of their skewed views. Have you seen the streets of SL?? It’s hillbilly heaven. I hope the no parking ban passes, Dennis Bring will be able to recoup 90% of the deficit alone by citing any cars left in the street overnight. Here’s an idea: keep the FD and PD but start citing for cars, nuisance properties, code violations and kill 2 birds with 1 stone. Improve the city and increase the funds.