September 23, 2014

Elyria
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Elyria to discuss possible income tax hike for November ballot

ELYRIA — Tax talk time is coming, but it will have to be a quick discussion if the city wants to get an issue on the November ballot.

Mayor Holly Brinda said she likely will recommend Council seek a .25 percent income tax increase. Specifying what it’s for, such as safety forces, is still up for debate.

The city has until 4 p.m. Aug. 6 to place an issue on the ballot.

The city for several years has sought ways to fund the Fire Department after a federal grant paying for 23 positions expires. In less than a year, the city can pay for the salaries and benefits of 52 firefighters — not the 75 positions they have now thanks to the grant.

“I don’t like to put a number on safety, but I don’t want to go back to that number,” Brinda said. “I believe the most conservative number to go with is 65 firefighters, but that requires additional funding.”

Brinda said the Police Department needs more funding as well. It is funded to have 85 positions — although the roster now sits at 79. Brinda hopes to fund and fill 90 police officer positions.

The discussion will start at the June 30 Finance Committee meeting, where City Council members will review four financial scenarios presented by Brinda earlier this year. If they can choose one, a vote could take place as early as July 7. The next regular Council meeting after that is Aug. 4.

Such late-in-the-game movement is not appreciated by some.

“The last time we did this (in 2010), we discussed our options early on and made up our minds by the spring,” said Councilman Mark Craig, I-4th Ward. “Some of us said no, but we at least had the time to talk and have public discussion.”

In 2010, Mayor Bill Grace and City Council — aside from Council members Craig, Mary Siwierka and Garry Gibbs, who all voted against putting an issue on the ballot — made the decision before Council started its summer schedule of one meeting per month.

That plan was to increase the city’s income tax rate from 1.75 percent to 2 percent, with more than half going to the Police Department.

Council President Mike Lotko, D-at large, said a tax discussion was not on the Council agenda before now because he was waiting for the administration to come to him with a recommendation gleaned from various stakeholders.

“This can’t come from just Council or just the administration,” he said. “History has shown that does not work. Voters want to know there are more than just us who believe a tax is the right approach for the city to take.”

Craig said he doesn’t think he could favor a tax issue this year as well. Income tax revenue is down, and he feels as if Brinda has not been focused enough on what he calls her first priority — economic development and job creation.

“She has spent three years doing everything but that, and now we are going to go back to residents to say we need more money. It will be a hard sell,” he said.

Finance Director Ted Pileski said income tax collections are down 4.36 percent compared with the same time in 2013, which was a year when income tax collections jumped a modest 5.91 percent from 2012.

“I anticipated a little bit of revenue drop because tax on net profits were up in 2013, and that often means rebates the following year from overestimates,” he said.

Pileski said cuts by the state to the local government fund and estate tax have put those revenues at the 2009 level.

There has been some speculation that the city might attempt to roll back the 100 percent income tax credit afforded to Elyria residents who work outside the city to boost revenue. Brinda said 68 percent of Elyrians work outside of the city.

The only way Elyria collects income tax revenue from non-residents is if they work in a city with a lower income tax than Elyria, which is nearly unheard of — Elyria has one of the lowest income tax rates in the region.

Craig said any talks of scaling back taxes would receive stiff opposition.

“There seems to be some belief that it will be easier to gain some type of tax credit reduction and double tax some of our residents instead of passing an income tax increase,” he said. “So, basically, the majority of our residents would be penalized for the fact the city doesn’t have jobs inside the city.”

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.


  • Mark B

    Better do a sales tax , the property is sick and tired of carrying the entire weight of this $hit hole of a city

  • feathergal

    I don’t like the idea of the city deciding to put a tax hike on the ballot but not have a reason for it.
    Also, If you want to fund the fire department, put ambulances in every station. EMS transports typically carry fire departments. Firemen are already getting paid for the shift they work and they respond to most EMS calls anyway. Why not let them take the patient to the hospital so that the City of Elyria can recoup the money from the transport instead of LifeCare? This is a win – win for the City and the residents. The residents would no longer have to pay for transports because the City could “soft-bill” the patient’s insurance company for the cost of the transport. That “soft-bill” amount would be enough money to sustain the fire department at much higher staffing levels, which ultimately provides better safety for the entire city.

    • Mark B

      I don’t want someone with a bad attitude about their union contract being responsible for EMS care .

  • Barbara Ann Fairall

    Seems my first post didnt go through…so I will repeat it again…NO NO NO…we will not support another tax increase. This was tried before and it didnt pass. I was skeptical on so much effort and energy being put on the tax renewal, it seems I was rightly so. NO NEW TAXES!

  • Sis Delish

    “Craig said he doesn’t think he could favor a tax issue this year as well. Income tax revenue is down, and he feels as if Brinda has not been focused enough on what he calls her first priority — economic development and job creation.

    “She has spent three years doing everything but that, and now we are going to go back to residents to say we need more money. It will be a hard sell,” he said.”

    Yeah, but she Raised Money for the 2nd of July Fireworks!! “Her biggest challenge yet!”

    And, the Cleveland Orchestra will perform with Fireworks as a result of her tough negotiations with the Fireworks Company!

    If Only Every Month had a 2nd of July…

  • Larry

    I would not support a tax increase which does not specify, IN WRITING, where that tax money is spent. Too many times money goes in the general fund and is never spent the way we were told it would be. As far as fire and police, we need to look at the scheduling of these jobs. Unlike the pass, we do not have the necessity of 24 hour shifts and the ever increasing overtime pay. Why has no one looked into a regular 8 hour shifts? If a major fire breaks out, and we know how often that is, than we could call in people. Also, double taxing people just because Elyria has no jobs, is crazy. Many would be glad to work close too home if the city would have the economic growth that is needed. Comes back to the same principle. We need new leaders with new ideas. Not ideas from the 60′s and 70′s.

  • luvmytoaster

    The 68% of Elyria residents who work outside of the city do so out of necessity – where are the jobs Mayor Brinda? They don’t intentionally work outside of Elyria just to avoid the city tax – shame on you for talking about a roll back of the 100% income tax credit!
    This is your only plan of how to boost revenue?

  • Mark B

    Remove longevity pay , Stop providing EVERY CITY EMPLOYEE with a personal vehicle. Make the sanitation department work 8 hours for their 8 hours pay instead of working 4 hours and being paid for 8 .

  • SniperFire

    Make it a sales tax so that the welfare bums at least have to kick in some of the handout money they voted for. Oh wait. The levy would never pass if those receiving the handouts had to pay. nevermind.

  • Summer Smart

    Someone commented a while back that the Cities, Townships, and Villages need to STOP asking for more money via levies and START making better use of the money they do that have!! What will be next? More money to support the higher incomes for fire departments or roads? When are the citizens going to DEMAND to see more being done with their money by the roads they drive on instead of knowing there certainly are people on staff but nothing else. Is that what our taxes are supposed to do? Is that what the true meaning of job creation is: give a man a job but don’t make him work or earn anything but vacation, sick time, longevity, uniform allowance, etc??? MAKE THEM EARN IT. DEMAND IT PEOPLE> WAKE UP, SAY NO TO ANY MORE NEW LEVIES OR INCREASES.

    • Mark B

      ” More money to support the higher incomes for fire departments ”
      This is already happening , every time there is a new contract there is a new Tax to pay for it . If the Fire Department finds out the City has excess money they Sue the city to get their greedy hands on it. Does Elyria Fire Department need more money to pay for BillBoard space by the BP Station ?

    • Sue Lawson

      I remember when they added an extra $5.00 to license plates so they could fix the roads. I always think about that as I am weaving around the bumps and holes.

      • Razorback Twou

        Thats coming, give ‘em time.

  • Edward Nonamaker

    I thought I heard or read just recently that Mayor Brinda said that tax revenues are up compared to the last 2 years , so which is it ? It seems that the estimates and actuals do not match up………they are not even close.

  • 2111

    Am I understanding the article correctly, the city has 75 firefighters but only needs 65 however because other taxpayers are footing the bill the city is happy to waste their money? This is exactly the reason not to give them any more money, they have proven their desires to waste other peoples money.

    • Mark B

      Democants are great at spending other peoples money !!!!!

  • golfingirl

    Based on the comments so far, Mayor Brinda, you better find a different way to fleece Elyria residents.

    People don’t feel they are getting their “money’s worth” now, what makes you think they will give more?

    • Pablo Jones

      You are looking at it the wrong way. It isn’t about if the people feel they are getting their money’s worth. What they need to feel is that they are doing the right thing. And the way that people can feel they are doing the right thing is by paying more in taxes. It doesn’t matter if the money isn’t spent efficiently and on the right things. If you pay more you have done your part and you can have a clear conscious.

      • golfingirl

        Agreed, and no matter how much you give, it will never be enough!

  • Bill Love

    this is her way of repaying the Union for getting her electedso now the taxpayers get stuck with it

  • GreatRedeemer

    The upside would be that all of those city, school and county employees working and not living in Elyria will be chipping in.

    • luvmytoaster

      That is true, but what percentage actually commute to Elyria for employment? We do know that 68% leave.

  • Razorback Twou

    “quick discussion” “Specifying what it’s for, such as safety forces, is still up for debate” translated, quick, lets make something up and see if we can fly it under the radar. People in this town are stupid.

  • Bob Dobbs

    Fix the sewer/drainage system and other failing infrastructure.