Four More Years of Progress: There’s A Need to Continue the Progress…
If re-elected to a second term, the Brinda Administration will continue proactive steps and course corrections put in place in our first term that are necessary to re-position Elyria for success.
Continuing Cost Efficiency Measures/Adequate Funding
Adequate funding to deliver high quality City services continues to be an issue. Given that Elyria has seen a $4.5 million reduction in revenue from the repeal of the Estate Tax, the decline of funds coming from the State Local Government Fund, and expiration of federal stimulus money funding safety forces – it is going to be especially important that the city’s Mayor and senior staff continue to work collaboratively with employee groups and City Council to continue on our current path of creating the most efficient and effective city government possible.
In anticipation of declining revenue, upon coming into office the Brinda administration requested a Voluntary Performance Audit of every department from the State that helped the City identify efficiencies. To date, $2.3 million in cost savings have been identified and implemented and it is anticipated that more cost-savings will be realized over the next 18 months. To accomplish this it will be necessary to build on current cost-saving efforts in employee contract negotiations, vendor contract negotiations, employee contributions to healthcare, participation in energy cooperatives, better controlling sick leave, focusing on employee safety, consolidating departments and positions, and automating systems with new software.
Unfortunately, cost-savings alone will not remedy the current gap between the identified capital needs across city departments and in the community, and the limited available revenue. The Brinda administration will continue to work with City Council and the community to explore and identify financial solutions that can be supported by Elyrians. An important component to funding high quality city services is growing the tax base. The Brinda Administration is working very hard to remedy years of neglect in the area of economic development and will use the next term to advance the following initiatives that have been put in place over the past three years.
Becoming More Economically Competitive
To help make Elyria more economically competitive in my second term we will: (1) continue to execute the City’s first Economic Development Plan that is designed to retain businesses and remove barriers to business expansion and attraction and promote job creation; (2) market our new Business Development Incentives and City assets to investors; (3) implement the Pilot Projects and recommendations from the grant-funded JumpStart Elyria Market Analysis and Re-development Plan to begin the revitalization of Downtown, the Midway area and Cleveland Street; (4) continue working with industry leaders to remediate aging infrastructure and properties that prevent business growth; and (5) advance more flexible Design Review requirements applicable for the construction or renovation of businesses. In 2014 there were over 200 new jobs created in Elyria and we are already on track to create an additional 135 jobs in 2015.
The Brinda administration will place a major focus on downtown revitalization in the next four years. In 2016 a new restaurant will replace the run-down bars and the majority of the other dilapidated buildings on Broad Street near Elyria Municipal Court. An investor has purchased four of the largest and most challenged buildings downtown and has plans to renovate and lease them. The City is sharing market analysis information with downtown investors and is working with several of them to bring new mixed-use development to the area. The City and County will continue to work together to expand transportation services offered out of the Lorain County Transportation and Community Center – including more bus, transit and passenger rail.
Eliminating Drugs and Dealers/Improving Neighborhood Safety
Continuing to make safety the top core service priority is important to Elyria’s ability to move forward. The Brinda Administration will continue its efforts to rid the Elyria community of drugs and drug dealers and the associated home burglaries and other neighborhood crimes. Since we re-established the Narcotics Unit that had been discontinued by the previous administration and combined it with the with the Neighborhood Impact Unit to form the Elyria Narcotic/ Neighborhood Impact Unit in May 2013 – the Elyria Police Department has made over 430 drug-related arrests. These arrests include the largest single heroin seizure in Lorain County history in 2014 as well as the recent arrest of 30 members of three families in March 2015.
Also important to neighborhood safety is the continued demolition of nuisance properties that often harbor criminals and criminal activity. The Brinda administration has already demolished 151 nuisance properties and working with community partners has plans to demolish an additional 60 properties over the next 18 months. Efforts to engage more citizens in working with the police on safety issues will continue – including strengthening and adding additional block watch organizations.
Major Infrastructure Improvements/Eliminating Flooding
If elected to a second term the Brinda administration will build upon and expand the $46 million of largely grant-funded infrastructure improvements that have been completed or are currently underway. The largest project, the $22 million reconfiguration of State Route 57 and the elimination of the 49th Street Bridge in the Midway Mall area, will be completed in 2016. It will improve a high crash zone, improve access to Midway Mall and neighboring commercial areas, and is already a catalyst for economic development. The City recently negotiated a tax incentive to entice a new CourtYard By Marriott Hotel that will begin construction this spring and the City’s new Community Improvement Corporation has accepted a donation of the former Mountain Jack’s restaurant property and has plans to offer it to investors for redevelopment.
Federal and Turnpike Mitigation funding has also been leveraged to make major improvements to the pavement and traffic signals on State Route 57 from the Ohio Turnpike south to State Route 113. Also scheduled are enhancements to pedestrian safety at the intersection of Bell Avenue and State Route 57 and safety improvements at Warden and State Route 57.
The replacement and/or improvements of roadways in both the Downtown area and Cleveland Street will be a focus. Middle Avenue is undergoing a major renovation from Broad Street to Oberlin Road in 2015 and the City is seeking funds for additional streetscape, crosswalk and street improvements in and around both Downtown and Cleveland Street business districts in the next two years. Target areas for improvements Downtown include Third Street, and East Avenue. Improvements on Cleveland Street will go from State Route 57 to the eastern corporation limits of the city.
Under the Brinda administration the City will continue to make sanitary and storm water improvements to improve the environment and reduce basement and other flooding. Building upon the recent improvements of over 4,000 feet of sanitary sewers and water main replacements in the areas of Eastern Heights, St. Jude and Furnace Street, the City will now begin to focus improving water flow and alleviating flooding.
In the next 24 months the city plans to focus on the replacement and improvement of water mains to improve water flow to residents, businesses and fire hydrants in the downtown core and eastern and western sections of the City. To help alleviate flooding and basement back-ups, over the next four years the City will begin to construct the $24 million Eastside Relief Sewer that will originate at the Waste Water Treatment Plant on Gulf Road running through Abbe Road to the St. Judes area.
Maintaining Quality of Life Programming
The City’s tight budget requires the administration to be creative to deliver non-essential quality of life programming. If re-elected the Brinda administration will continue the partnerships, collaborations and fundraising that have helped bring back family-friendly quality of life programming like free summer camps, fireworks, summer concerts, community gardens, expanded holidays lights at Finwood Estate and Downtown, and more. In addition, the Brinda Administration will work with the Lorain County MetroParks to administer the new 50-year agreement that calls for the MetroParks to operate, maintain and improve Cascade and Elywood parks. Mayor Brinda has committed to assist with the fundraising efforts necessary to help some of the improvements in Cascade Park move forward. Moreover, the Mayor will continue to work with the Elyria Parks and Recreation Board and staff to fund park improvements throughout the City.