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MARY SIWIERKA

Elyria City Council-At-Large

msiwierka@cityofelyria.org

To : Elyria City Council Members and City Administration

RE: Funding of the Elyria Safety Forces Date: May 24, 2010

I have taken the last week to digest all of the very important data that has been provided to City
Council by Mayor Grace, Auditor Pileski and Chief Whitely. Much of this information has supported what
many of us already know about the societal changes that have affected our community due to current
economic conditions.

I completely support the Elyria Police Department’s need for additional officers, equipment and
attention. Their jobs are more difficult with an unsettled economy and the sense of desperation that
many feel. Even in “good times” police work is proactive and creates a sense of well-being for a town.

I would like to propose a modified version of the proposal before us and the citizens of Elyria. If
City Council is interested in exploring this idea—I’m confident that the details of such a tax measure
could be drawn up quickly and, more importantly, would be embraced by the community. My thought is
that citizens want to see and understand how and where dollars are going and control them at the ballot
box. As you know, the last permanent income tax in Elyria was passed in 1992. I worked on that
campaign and remember the community support that went into it. It was lead by many community
leaders who were totally committed to beefing up Elyria’s safety and security.

I propose a much “simpler” tax plan – one that give the citizens the final say and control and
meets the EPD’s needs. This plan supports other general fund entities by keeping their needs in the
funding formulas.

My proposal is to offer to the citizens a ¼% temporary income tax for the sole purpose of
equipment and manning of the Elyria Police Department. This temporary tax would run only until 2014
to coincide the with current ½% temporary tax. The ¼% tax would generate approximately $ 2.8 million
dollars for Police needs including hiring of additional officers, new cars, replacement of worn
equipment, computers, etc… A portion of these dollars could be used to support some modified use of
the city jail as well.

This tax will serve as a springboard to get the department up and running very much like the
recently acquired SAFER grant did for the Elyria Fire Department. Passage of these new dollars will be
an immediate shot-in-the-arm for Elyria PD.

The most important next step with this proposal is the immediate focus on long term funding
and alignment of strategic priorities. In late April, I proposed the creation of a community-based
group that would take on part of this challenge. It was not to “do” council’s job it was to support
Council’s work. In essence – we start a campaign that demonstrates that Elyria can longer be a full-
service community under a less than 2% Income Tax structure –whether that is in a straight income
tax, tax credits, or some combination of both. WE simply cannot keep pace with the delivery of basic
and enhanced services to residents without this foundational structure.

This laser focused approach would bring together all of the vested parties in Elyria - the Financial
Review Board, City Administration and Council, Community Groups and Civic Organizations, Business,
and Education leaders – those collective voices will use the current blank canvas to outline a new
roadmap of long-term funding.

The City of Elyria, with the passage of this tax, will be given a gift – a gift of time to focus on the
long-term plan. The immediate needs will be met. Voters will prove with passage that they take on this
burden as a leap of faith. Acting upon that leap--we need to embrace the difficult task of looking at the
long-term.

The planning for the long-term starts now and really never ends. If we set a goal that is
attainable and reasonable—I know we can get there.

The gift of time is a precious commodity and we need to use it as wisely as the dollars we
already collect and spend.