Thursday, May 6, 2010

Elyria Police Proposed Funding Plan

Today Mayor Grace announced the administration's plan to increase manning levels for the Police Department. This plan will be discussed by Council at the special Strategic Planning Committee meeting to be scheduled for Thursday, May 13 in Council Chambers at 6:00 p.m. Once the meeting date and time is known for certain, I will update the Upcoming Events.

This proposal involves repealing the temporary, 5-year 1/2% Safety Forces income tax and replacing it with a permanent 3/4% income tax. Documents regarding this proposal are in the Documents Section of this web page for your review and consideration.

Please consider attending this special meeting and offering your reaction to this new income tax proposal for the Elyria Police Department.


MARK F. CRAIG said...

I was asked to comment on this proposed plan, which I just received this afternoon.

First of all, we have until August 4 to vote to put something on the ballot in November, so racing around between Council meetings is completely inappropriate, no matter how good the plan might be. It almost seems dishonest and sneaky. In order to get public support, you need transparency and you need to give the public an opportunity to respond and offer its own suggestions on the best way to proceed. Once again, we have a plan that is completely constructed by the Mayor without first requesting the input of the Council (at least not publicly). It is unnecessarily packaged with an urgency that we need to pass it as an emergency on May 17. It is as if he does not really care what Council or the public thinks, that he has already made up his mind as to the best way to accomplish this goal and now it is up to us to implement it. That's not the way it is supposed to work. It should be the other way around. Council should be presented with the issue and develop the goal through public discussions, then reach a consensus with public buy-in and put into effect a plan that is supported and well-considered. We don't need an emergency to "start campaigning" for this. You can campaign starting today for SOME plan and that plan can change between now and when it is required to go on the ballot, or earlier if a consensus is reached.

I am concerned that the other needs of the city "will have to wait until another time." If we are even proposing that we will lock up this much of the City's income tax for use by one department and suggesting that we can run the balance of the City on the remainder, we need more information. Personally, I do not believe that the City can ever get support for an income tax that exceeds 2%, so if we want to support any other department to increase money that is allocated to them, it needs to be in that shot up to 2%. These include: Parks & Recreation or Street Repairs, Engineering, Fire Department, Communications, Safety Services, Law Department, Courts, Clerk, Health Department, Cemeteries, Swimming Pools, Planning/Community Development, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, Housing Code Enforcement, Mayor's Office, Administrative Support, JEDD Income Tax Department, Auditor's office (Finance), Legal Administration, Legislative Activity, the Building Department, Central Maintenance Garage, and Miscellaneous Government.

I'm disappointed that this did not first go to the Safety Committee to discuss the department's needs and identify the short and long-term goals. It would then go to the Finance Committee to identify how to fund the needs and goals identified in Safety. Then it could go to Strategic Planning to discuss how best to implement it, structure it, market it and support it. Finally, it would go to full Council for passage. Not as an emergency. People have enough distrust of this administration and the City leaders without increasing that distrust by attempting to vote to put something on the ballot without a LOT of public discussion FIRST. We should be asking the public to tell us their thoughts, their ideas, what they are willing to support. We should be utilizing our Financial Review Board (who just recommended not trying to put a tax measure before the voters, by the way). This plan by the Mayor could be a great starting point for this discussion, but it certainly should not be the beginning, the end and passed by an emergency less than two weeks after it is introduced to the public and the media and the Council, all at the same time.

Since I just received these materials, I will need to review them carefully and identify particular aspects with which I agree or disagree, but these are my initial thoughts in general.

I look forward to any other comments on this proposal.

Boone said...

Thanks for your insight on the subject. I like the way you think and look forward to hearing more after further review. Thanks for all your efforts! Keep swinging, Mark Craig!