Passage comes as city officials grapple with less state revenue and on the heels of a November rejection by voters of a 0.5 percent income tax hike that would’ve raised $500,000 annually and cost a worker earning $50,000 per year an additional $250 annually. The levy would’ve primarily paid for firefighters, police and other city workers.
Sheffield Lake has seen a significant drop in state aid to local governments, city officials said. Hiring and pay freezes have been in effect for the city since 2009 — an exception was made to hire a part-time emergency dispatcher this month — and 15 positions were eliminated through attrition since 2009.
Eliminations included all part-time firefighters and Mayor Dennis Bring, who works part time and doubles as the safety/service director, is considering disbanding the 11-member Fire Department if a levy isn’t passed. Sheffield Lake, which has about 9,300 residents, has 45 full-time employees and 15 part-time workers, including nine full-time police officers and five part-timers.
Smith said the budget includes a carryover surplus of about $150,000, but the city needs to have a surplus of between $200,000 and $250,000. She said the inability to fill positions has made it more difficult for existing employees.
For instance, the city has one part-time parks worker to maintain all of Sheffield Lake’s 10 parks.
“We’re still pinching every penny just to get along,” Smith said.
In other business
Bring said he may ask Council at its Dec. 30 meeting to propose a levy on May 6. Phil Gauer, the Columbus-based Ohio Association of Professional Firefighters 2nd District vice president, said the association would help firefighters lobby for the levy. Gauer said efforts would include mailers, leaflets, going to door to door and meeting with civic groups.
“Sometimes coming from the outside to back something, sometimes that gives you a little more support too,” Gauer told Council.
Bring said Saturday’s snow cost $7,125 to plow and 15 tickets were issued for snow ban parking violations. He said residents need to know that they cannot park on streets after they’re plowed because streets need to be salted after being plowed. Parking only resumes after Bring announces the ban has ended.