October 26, 2014

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Sheffield Lake weighs trying special election for tax levy

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 could be cut if the city doesn’t find additional funding. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

SHEFFIELD LAKE — A decision whether to hold a special election to try to pass a 0.5 percent income tax increase may come in January.

Mayor Dennis Bring said after Tuesday’s City Council meeting that he wants to evaluate whether there is enough support for the levy to justify spending about $8,000 for a special election. About 100 people packed Council chambers for the meeting.

Council President Richard Rosso, a Council member since 2001, said it was the most residents he’d seen at a meeting. Some residents were there to speak about a residential parking ban, but many spoke about the levy that was defeated by a 781-765 margin in November, according to official results from the Lorain County Board of Elections.

The levy, which would have increased the city income tax to 2 percent, would’ve raised $500,000 annually. A worker earning $50,000 annually would’ve had to pay an additional $250 per year had it passed.

The city has lost about $2.5 million in state aid to local governments since 2009 — about $500,000 annually. Hiring and pay freezes have been in effect since 2009, and 15 positions were eliminated through attrition since 2009.

Most of the levy money would have paid for firefighters and police as well as other city workers’ salaries and for city equipment. Bring has said the failure may mean having to eliminate the Fire Department and six police dispatchers.

Neighboring fire departments would respond to fires if the department was eliminated and the city would employ LifeCare Ambulance for medical calls. Lorain County dispatchers would dispatch police.

Bring said Tuesday he had spoken with the heads of the fire and police unions since the defeat, but no decision had been made. The Fire Department’s contract runs through Dec. 31, 2014, according to Chief Tim Card.

Several residents asked for a special election. Resident Ronnie Chandler said he didn’t know about the levy or he would’ve voted for it. Chandler said firefighters have saved him from choking, saved his 5-year-old son’s life and extinguished a fire at his grandmother’s house before it was destroyed. Chandler said he’s willing to pay more taxes because Sheffield Lake needs a Fire Department.

“I’d be dead without them. My son would be dead without them,” he said.

Bring said even if the levy passed, the city would still need to borrow to help replace aging equipment. Bring said no decisions on cuts have been made, and he is trying to work with the police and fire unions.

“I’m not just going to arbitrarily cut everything even though I said a lot of that stuff,” he said.

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.


  • Brian_Reinhardt

    With the passage of the overnight parking ban in Sheffield Lake last night, city council and the mayor have shown they’re playing hard ball to get back at residents.

    I think it’s time for the residents to play hard ball as well.

    • Rosa Garcia-Gee

      The Parking Ban has been talked about for many years. Call Your Council representative. FYI : Council was who votes for or against an Ordnance not a City Mayor. As far as the tax levy…. Most neighboring communities rely on tax from industry in their city. Sheffield Lake does not have that luxury .

  • outdoorslvr

    Brian, that’s nonsense. Many other local cities have a parking ban. The mayor has actually settled down a bit. He seems to now think that disbanding the FD is not in the best interest of citizens. I think it’s time for the citizens to reclaim their city and support a safety services levy to ensure that everyone stays protected. It’s not a big deal to move a few vehicles once in a while. On the other hand, it IS a big thing to rely on the amateurs from Lifecare and volunteer (wannabee) amateur firefighters for the safety of your home and, more important, your family.

    • Rhodesrunner

      Volunteer wannabees??? It wasn’t that long ago that your full-time fire department was a volunteer department. And when it became full-time, those volunteer firefighters became your full time guys. Get and education because you know nothing about the fire service!! I’ve been a volunteer for many years and I have as many, if not more credentials than your guys do. I just perform my services at no cost to the public. My department isn’t bankrupting my community… how about yours???

  • Jenn McKeto

    What is this parking ban?? Where was the information about this for residents?

    • Brandy Lynn

      No one can park in the streets from 2am-6am.

      • Jenn McKeto

        When does that go in to effect?

        • Brandy Lynn

          I’m pretty sure Tuesday when they passed it.

  • Mike

    Vote no

  • stop ur whining

    certain things you never cut if you want your city to be a success that draws in residents…POLICE, FIRE, and EDUCATION. Be careful what you wish for Sheffield Lake.

  • Mike

    If you look at this picture 5 FFs standing around doing nothing. What about when they let the guy die in the minivan that crashed into the house on belle? These cops in sheffield lake have such rough job enforcing this parking ban. They are not making money on speeding or all those other horrible crimes happening here so they pass this to bring in money. What about notifying the people of this parking ban that’s going to cost money by putting up signs or sending letters. People are fools if they believe all the threats

  • WeDumB

    If he can get a special election tax levy to pass (one that is much needed for such a small town) He will be a political mastermind., Then we need to get the town to invest in its children next. There will be no stopping us.