The 2014 Autumn Edition of Spotlight Elyria – Also showing on Cable Channel 12 Every Even Hour of the Day!
With Mayor Holly Brinda & Guests
The Link Between Safety & City Finances: Why You Should Care & Good News Happenings About Your City!
This is an informational program to update you about city finances, provide the facts about Issue 14, and share good news about your City. Please join us to learn more about how the City’s general fund revenue has declined by $4.5 million due to state and federal reductions, how the City has already reduced expenditures by $2 million, and why Issue 14 is needed to maintain a safe level of fire service and strengthen the police force to address drug-related crime and other issues in the wake of drastically reduced state and federal funding.
Channel 12 Spotlight Elyria Program Highlights
City finances and declining state and federal funding – Chief Deputy Auditor John Farrell
How the City is waging the war on drugs and why police need more help – Police Chief Duane Whitely and Captain Chris Costantino
Why the City needs to better support Auxiliary Police – Lieutenant Deena Baker
Why the City needs to keep 13 of the 23 expiring, grant-funded firefighter positions to keep three fire stations open and adequately protect citizens and property – Fire Chief Richard Benton and Captain Dean Marks
Why a Reverse 911 System and safety-related equipment and capital repairs are important to supporting safety – Safety Service Director Mary Siwierka
A city council person’s perspective on safety – Ward 3 City Councilman Dr. Mark Jessie
Good news about Elyria – Mayor Holly Brinda
Recycling information – brought to you by Elyria citizens who recycle!
For more information call Mayor Holly Brinda at (440) 326-1402
Paid for by a generous grant from the Lorain County Solid Waste Management District
Questions & Answers About Issue 14
Issue 14 is a temporary, 4.5 year, one quarter percent (1/4%) income tax increase that if passed will generate about $3.2 million annually and allow the City to maintain a safe level of fire service and strengthen the police force in the wake of drastically reduced state and federal funding.
Here are some common questions and answers:
Q: Why is the city operating with less money?
A: The repeal of the Estate Tax, a decline in the Local Government Fund from the State of Ohio, and the expiration of federal stimulus funds the City has been relying on to fund firefighter and police officer positions – are all reasons for the revenue decline. Combined, these reductions represent about $4.45 million annually in the City’s General Fund.
Q: Aren’t there any other sources of money to pay for safety personnel?
A: Money from Enterprise Funds that generate their own earmarked revenue like water and sanitation cannot by law be transferred out of those funds to cover police and fire services; only money from the General Fund or the Police Levy can be used. Moreover, the stimulus-funded grants previously applied for by the City are expiring at the end of the year. There was no SAFER grant for fire departments offered by the federal government in 2014 and it is uncertain as to
whether or not any SAFER grants will be offered in 2015. And even if another version of the grant does become available, it is unlikely Elyria will receive an award for a third time. Another version of the federal COPS grant was available but required a monetary match by the city and future employment promises. The City does not currently have the money to meet these new requirements.
Moreover, these grants were meant to enhance safety, not supplant basic city services. When a city relies on grants to supplant basic safety services, it makes
those services vulnerable. For example, it takes nine months to train a police officer before he or she can provide service. If the grant expires in three years, the police officer has only provided 27 months of active service and funding runs out. The city can’t pay the officer so the officer finds a position in another community and takes the training investment to the next city. Elyria has lost many highly trained safety personnel to six nearby communities in recent months because of this practice. Police officers are also reluctant to sign on with a City that relies on grants for their salary because there is no job security for them or their families. Grants are helpful to enhance safety services, but it is detrimental for a city to rely on them to fund core safety services that deserve the benefit of stable funding. The new Brinda administration is trying to stabilize the city’s finances by securing a revenue stream that can adequately support core, basic safety services.
Q: What has the City done to reduce expenditures?
A: The City has already reduced almost $2 million in two years in both the General Fund and Enterprise Funds. To address the shortfall and keep the City moving forward, we have taken the following proactive steps:
- Requested a Voluntary Performance Audit by the State Auditor of every department in the City to help identify potential cost-saving measures and benchmark performance.
- Made workplace adjustments that have resulted in over $2 million in savings so far (In both General Fund and Enterprise Funds). This has included rebidding vendor contracts, reconfiguring and consolidating some departments, leaving 14 positions unfilled, automating systems, and working with employee groups to adjust contracts – including reducing longevity in three contracts.
- Passed a five-year income tax RENEWAL last year to help stabilize core services.
- Developed the City’s first Economic Development Plan to retain, expand and attract businesses and grow our tax base. The plan is already partially funded with federal, state and other grants and is beginning to see results. For more information regarding all of these initiatives, please visit www.cityofelyria.org.
Q: What will the money from Issue 14 be used for?
A: The money generated by Issue 14 is exclusively earmarked for safety purposes by the administration and Elyria City Council. Ordinances were passed to
prevent the money from being used for any other purpose. Issue 14 will:
- Maintain 65 front-line firefighters – just enough to meet national safety standards, state auditor recommendations and keep 13 of the 23
firefighters whose grant-funded positions are expiring with the SAFER grant.
- Sustain a police force of 93 – keeps three officers whose positions expire with a COPS grant and adds five new sworn officers to address the drug
epidemic and improve neighborhood safety and speeding and traffic concerns.
- Provide a small recruitment incentive stipend to Auxiliary Police to enhance safety (at present they get paid nothing); helps pay for their uniform, equipment and training costs and will help provide a more attractive career path for sworn officers.
- Fund safety-related equipment, vehicles and capital repairs and emergency road and bridge repairs.
- Support Police Department crime prevention initiatives including training programs and materials, and surveillance cameras for downtown.
- Support a Reverse 911 System capable of mass communication in a community-wide emergency.
Q: How much will it cost me?
A: As an income tax, It DOES NOT tax retirement, social security, unemployment, or disability income.
So if you draw your income from any of these sources, you will pay nothing. You will also pay nothing to Elyria if you work in a city with an income tax rate at the same rate or above the City of Elyria’s.
Here are some examples of how the cost of Issue 14 breaks out for other residents. The current income tax rate for the City of Elyria is 1.75 percent. At that rate, a resident of Elyria that works in Elyria is currently paying $875 on an annual salary of $50,000. If the rate were to go up by a ¼ percent, that same person would pay an additional $125 per year.
If a resident of Elyria works in another municipality, he or she pays income tax to the workplace City. Elyria offers a 100 percent credit for those residents who work outside of Elyria and pay to other communities. With the current rate of 1.75 percent, if a resident of Elyria works in another community that has a rate equal to or higher than our 1.75 percent, there is nothing due to Elyria. If our rate would go up by ¼ percent to 2.00%, residents of Elyria who work in another community would only owe the City of Elyria if the rate of the City that they work in is lower than 2.00 percent and then, and only then, they would pay the difference between the two rates.
For example, if a resident of Elyria works in the City of Lorain, that resident would still not owe Elyria anything because Lorain’s income tax rate is currently 2.5 percent. If a resident of Elyria works in North Ridgeville and earns $50,000 they currently pay North Ridgeville $500 and Elyria $375. If our rate would go up to 2.00 percent, that same person would still pay North Ridgeville $500 and Elyria $500. In this scenario, the increase for that person to Elyria would be $125.
Q: Issue 14 is temporary… what does that mean?
A: Both the recently passed ½ percent temporary income tax renewal and this Issue 14 proposed ¼ percent temporary income tax increase will expire at the same time in June of 2019. This will allow the citizens of Elyria, City Council and the City administration to assess the needs of the City at that time and re-calibrate the funding sources based on ever-changing state and federal revenue streams and the state of the local economy.
Q: How does Elyria’s income tax rate compare to other cities?
A: Elyria’s income tax rate is lower than many comparable cities in northeast Ohio. Even if Issue 14 passes and the income tax goes from 1.75 to 2 percent,
Elyria will still be under or about the same as comparable size cities. For example, the City of Lorain’s income tax rate is 2.5 percent. If Issue 14 passes, Elyria’s income tax rate will still be only 2 percent – a half percent lower than Lorain. Likewise, other area cities with income tax rates higher than Elyria include Parma at 2.5 percent, Euclid at 2.85 percent, Warrensville Heights at 2.6 percent and Twinsburg at 2.25 percent. Other comparable size communities at 2 percent include cities like Mentor, Eastlake, Cuyahoga Falls, Cleveland Heights and North Olmsted.
Q: What will happen to city services if Issue 14 does not pass?
A: Without passage of this small, temporary increase, the City of Elyria will be forced to reduce the equivalent of 32 positions – a necessary move to balance the budget that will impact personnel in the General Fund across the City and have a drastic, negative impact on quality of life services to our citizens.
Safety will continue to be a priority so the administration will be forced to pull the already scarce resources from other departments in the General Fund to minimize the negative impact on safety forces and citizen safety. The Brinda administration will always do the best it can to provide quality services at the lowest possible cost with the resources that are available. That being said, there are serious limitations to what we can provide if we cannot replace this expiring
Q: Why do we need to replace expiring funding in the fire department?
A: The short answer is, if we want to at least minimally protect our families and properties, we need to keep at least 13 of 23 expiring grant-funded front-line firefighter positions for a total of 65. While not ideal, in these times of austerity, it will keep three fire stations open, allowing the City to meet national safety standards and State Auditor recommendations – and minimize increases in home owner and business insurance rates.
Each year the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), made up of scientists, doctors, municipal leaders and fire professionals meet to set policy and set minimum safety standards for life threatening emergencies. Their standards cover every aspect of firefighting from equipment to personnel. The NFPA standards were used to determine SAFER grant awards. To meet these standards and accept the previous SAFER grant award, Elyria was required to have open a minimum of three fire stations.
Another important rating to home and business owners is the City’s ISO rating. The Insurance Services Office (ISO) is the leading resource used by Property/Casualty Insurance Industry for statistical information used for setting insurance rates. The inspections are made once every 10 years. Elyria’s
10-year inspection just started October 6th. It is based on three parts: the fire department’s ability to meet NFPA standards, the water supply and the emergency
dispatch/communications system. The fire department is 50 percent of the score. Elyria is currently a class 4 rating; 1 being the best and 10 being the poorest. If Elyria drops from a class 4 to a class 5 rating because it cannot meet NFPA standards, this could raise home owners insurance from between $100 – $700 per year depending on the value of the structure and where it is located in the city. Commercial and industrial properties are rated independently based on value and hazards.
Q: Why do we need to strengthen our police department?
A: Your Elyria Police Department is just beginning to get ahead of the drug-related crime in our community and needs more help. Since being reinstated by
Mayor Brinda and Police Chief Whitely in March 2013, the Elyria Narcotics Unit have been extremely successful with one sergeant and five detectives, but much
work remains. This drug problem is not specific to Elyria; it is all over northeast Ohio and the country. But given that Elyria is a transportation nexus and urban center, we have to be more vigilant about making sure that drug dealers know that Elyria’s doors are not open for their business.
In 2013, as a result of their investigations, narcotics detectives made 220 drug and felony warrant arrests that involved 76 undercover drug buys that resulted in the arrest of 82 drug dealers. So far in 2014, there have been 81 controlled drug buys, and 136 arrests. Even more sobering, the total street value of drugs taken off the street in Elyria just this year is $418,800. And in the process, they have confiscated 10 assault rifles, 19 hand guns and $161,055 in US currency.
Drug-related activity has a direct correlation with the number of home robberies in an area. Moreover, routine traffic stops often lead to further investigation of
drug-related activity and tips for police. The eight police officers that will be added to the Elyria Police Department as a result of Issue 14 will be used to enhance street and traffic patrols and strengthen the Elyria Narcotics Unit to provide even more of a focus on neighborhood crime and drug interdiction involving heroin, powder cocaine, crack cocaine, methamphetamine, prescription medication abuse and marijuana.
2014 State of the City of Elyria Address
Elyria Mayor Holly Brinda gave her 2014 State of the City Address to a standing room only packed house at the Wesleyan Village in Elyria at Noon on February 11, 2014. Click here to view the PowerPoint presentation. Please view the video of Mayor Brinda’s presentation belowth. For more information call the Mayor’s Office at (440) 326-1402.
Previous State of the City Addresses can be found here.
City of Elyria Performance Audit
The City of Elyria commissioned a voluntary performance audit by the Ohio Auditor of State. The results and the City of Elyria response are posted below. Please visit MAYOR BRINDA’S BLOG for more information, or call the Mayor’s office at (440) 326-1402.
The City of Elyria Response is listed under “Client Response” beginning on page 91 in the above document. If you wish to read **ONLY** the City of Elyria Response, you may do so by clicking below:
Welcome to the City of Elyria’s website, a window to Ohio’s community of opportunity.
Alive with enthusiasm and rich in diversityand imagination, as residents of Ohio’s 14th largest city we take great pride in our can-do pioneering spirit, history of innovation, natural beauty, commitment to volunteerism, and welcoming door to all people.
Founded at the fork of the scenic Black River in 1817 by Heman Ely, Elyria is a city of “firsts” and has all the right ingredients to put Elyrians first again. To name just a few, you are looking into the home of the Easter Seal Society; the first chartered high school west of the Allegheny Mountains; the sewing machine; the modern, padded bicycle seat; the rubber heel; the term “hamburger”; the colored golf ball; Heisman trophy winner Vic Janowicz; and author Sherwood Anderson.
Armed with a vision and a plan, our 55,000 residents continue to be committed to making the best use of our time, talents and many community assets. Today Elyria is the world headquarters of companies like Ridge Tool, Invacare Corporation, EMC Corporation, Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems and Diamond Products. In 2012, EMH Elyria Medical Center was named an America’s100 Best Hospital by HealthGrades, one of the nation’s leading providers of comprehensive information about physicians and hospitals. Lorain County Community College is a leader in lifelong learning and a catalyst for business innovation and training in Ohio. The grand opening of Elyria’s new $70 million public high school speaks to the value our community places on education, rounding out the myriad of public, parochial, private and charter school choices in the community.
Our world-class companies; high quality, affordable health care, and education systems are complimented by historic and modern, eclectic housing choices; a scenic parks system complete with waterfalls, nature trails and recreation centers in each quadrant of the city; and an expansive and active faith-based community. Nonprofit organizations work closely with the City and other public organizations to provide responsive services to our residents. A testimony to our community working together are this summer’s Reach and Rise Discovery Camps offered to Elyria children and youth free of charge thanks to the collective support and collaboration of many public, private and non-profit organizations.
Only seven miles from Lake Erie, and 26 miles from Cleveland, Elyria boasts of providing easy access to all the wonderful amenities that Northeast Ohio has to offer. We hope you’ll join us!
Coming Soon: Elyria’s New E-Government Center Website
Welcome to the City of Elyria, Ohio’s temporary website. Please excuse our website dust. Our new E-Government Website is under construction and will soon allow you to access services 24 hours per day, seven days per week. If you are in need of information not currently posted on the website, please contact the Mayor’s Office at (440) 326-1402. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you in advance for your understanding.
Please contact Mayor Brinda’s Office for information regarding the following:
- Economic Development/Business Retention,
Expansion, Attraction Services
- Volunteer Opportunities: Summer Reach &
Rise Discovery Camps, Community Gardens, Finwood Holiday Display
This video of Cascade Park was created for our city by Dr. Mark Jessie, Elyria High School Music Director.