November 23, 2014

Elyria
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Elyria Council OKs income tax increase on Nov. ballot

ELYRIA — With little discussion, Council on Monday approved three resolutions and one ordinance in quick succession to place a 0.25 percent income tax increase before voters, touting the issue as necessary to infuse more than $3.5 million into the city’s struggling coffers.

The city has until 4 p.m. Wednesday to place issues on the November ballot.

“We don’t have the revenue to keep what we have, let alone offer any kind of increase in services,” said Brenda Davis, D-2nd Ward. “(Residents) want the Fire Department there when they need it. They want the Police Department there when they need it. They don’t want to hear they are not available for whatever reason.”

In exchange for increasing the current 1.75 income tax rate, the city proposes a $1.980 million plan for additional police officers and firefighters — a count Mayor Holly Brinda has set at 93 officers and 65 firefighters. The tax also would provide funds to purchase safety equipment in each department and road repairs. In the second year — it’s a proposed five-year tax — $80,000 would go to auxiliary police officers in the form of $3,000 stipends and a police academy scholarship program.

Once the documents are signed, they will be forwarded to the Lorain County Board of Elections for placement on the November ballot.

If passed, the tax would expire June 30, 2019.

Mark Craig, I-4th Ward, was the only councilman to vote against putting a measure before voters.

Councilman Larry Tanner, D-1st Ward, previously voted against the tax plan when it was presented in a Strategic Planning Committee meeting. He voted in favor of going to the voters Monday.

“I needed to see the legislation to see what we were going to put to the voters,” he said following the meeting. “I’m all for voters having their say on Election Day.”

If passed, the money the tax would generate would answer the longstanding question over staffing in the Fire Department. With 52 firefighters getting paid with city dollars and 23 positions falling under a federal grant, the city’s challenge has centered on how many firefighters the city could afford without the help of federal dollars.

That number will rise to 65, assuming the levy passes. Moving the 13 additional positions to the general fund would cost $1.1 million.

Brinda said the plan keeps three fire stations open daily and three fire personnel on each truck.

The number of 65 firefighters is supported by the state performance audit conducted in 2013 as well as the McGrath Fire Audit commissioned several years ago.

Four years ago, when the city last sought an income tax increase, it failed by less than 5 percentage points.

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


  • Mark B

    The answer is still NO , Cut the fat , Make the sanitation dept work all 8 hour for their 8 hours pay , not just a half day.

  • stillsleepyeyes

    in exchange for the tax increase the city promises the unions all raises and no extra services will be provided……………………..

  • Larry

    I will NEVER vote for a tax that does not include in writing with no loop holes exactly the percentage and where it is going to be spent. This city has long had the “Buddy Plan” with the general fund. Get the money and forget what you said you were spending it for. Also, there was no discussion of overtime getting carried away nor on longevity. You have a job, be thankful, don’;t expect extra money just because you been here for years. That;s a city”Cash Cow” for workers. Also, re-examine the way shifts are for police and fire. How much overtime would be saved doing three 8 hour shifts? City is blind to change what use to work to what will. And what services? You closed the West Park pool and South Park. This is a city of 2 areas, the other 2 never matter.

    • oldruss

      Many years ago now, Lorain City Council put a police levy on the ballot, which raised the Lorain income tax by one-quarter of one percent, and which was tailored as a separate fund for operations of the Lorain Police Department. Included in the ordinance and ballot language was language that restricted the use of the revenue to specific purposes; and also, that the percentage of the general fund then being spent on the LPD could not be reduced as result of having passed the police levy. Perhaps, if the Elyria Mayor has specific needs which she wants addressed, they should likewise be spelled out in the ordinance (and ballot language).

  • golfingirl

    If you think you are getting your money’s worth now, by all means vote to give them more.

    If not, send a message to the administration.

    • Mark B

      Don’t be sheeple , don’t vote yourself a pay cut ….

      If the city is asking me to take a pay cut , to pay more in taxes , I suggest that every city employee match my cut with a pay cut of their own , otherwise the answer is NO , just as their answer is NO

      • golfingirl

        I would be curious to know what percent of the population who live in Elyria actually pay city income tax?

        Not passing any judgement, just curious.

        If you pay no taxes, why not vote for it? I mean, you receive benefits that you do not have to contribute to.

        • Pablo Jones

          7% unemployed
          72% Age 20 or older
          Labor force participation rate for Elyria/Lorain roughly 69%
          72%*69%*93%=46% of residence working

          Of that number you would have to subtract the tax credit received by those that work outside of the city. From a previous article that is close to 68%.

          That brings it close to 15% pay income tax to Elyria.

          56,000 * 15% = 8,400 people. Makes you wonder why they even bother. Probably spend more going through the paperwork than they bring in.

          • Pablo Jones

            So odds are those people are the low income service workers (usually don’t vote), small business owners, and the few people that actually work for one of the few large companies in town. And of course the teachers and city workers. But they are ok with voting for tax increases, they will make up for it with their next pay raise that they will get out of it.

          • golfingirl

            Thanks for doing all the “homework.”

            I knew it was a small number, but not this small.

          • Pablo Jones

            Probably have to add 15-25% for those not working but have a pension or SS.

        • Pablo Jones

          You make a good point though. I bet many of the people that vote against it actually don’t pay income taxes to Elyria. The city just needs to rally those that don’t pay to get it passed and stick it to those that do. Especially those that live out of town don’t pay property taxes to Elyria.

  • Peter Aldrich

    20 some years ago they passed an increase that was to be for the Police Department. Among other things, 100 officers were promised. They had 100 for about 20 seconds. I believe the number now is about 75, if that. Having experienced many things with the city first hand, it will take some selling to get me to vote for an increase.

  • Pablo Jones

    $3.5 million is to be raised. Where can the city find that money within their current budget?

    1. How about increasing the rate city employees contribute to their health insurance premiums 5-10%. That would be about $500,000 or more per year.
    2. Eliminate longevity pay or at least cap it below 5%. That will save $1-2 million or more
    3. Freeze wage increases for 4 years. That will average out to about $1 million a year.

    There you go a simple way to save $3.5 million. And there is probably another $5 million in savings within the budget if they really wanted it. How about you do that first.

    • Otter

      They could eliminate the street sweeper that I saw today, going down Abbe Rd., all they did was spew dust all over…

  • Bill Love

    here is the payback to the unions for helping to get her elected

  • Mark B

    Make it a sales tax so everyone pays or don’t ask . The property owners of Elyria are tired of paying for all of those on government entitlements.

  • Sis Delish

    Always asking for More. It’s a tough job spending money that isn’t yours.

  • GreatRedeemer

    We don’t need more union city employees, we need less government. Vote no

  • Lisa

    SPAM

  • oldruss

    ANDY YOUNG, PLEASE, DELETE THIS TRASH, AND BLOCK WHOMEVER IS POSTING IT.

  • Summer Smart

    And take an English class….. Not a good way to generate business.