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Elyria City Council looks to help schools


ELYRIA — City Council is looking to see if it can help Elyria Schools save some money on its upcoming construction project, a move that is timely considering the district is looking at millions of dollars in cost overruns and possibly changing its master plan.

Monday night, the Finance Committee discussed a proposal to reduce its plan review fees for the school district.

Mayor Holly Brinda said the school district approached the city for the reduction and given the current situation of raising construction costs and difficulty in meeting the original master plan, it is something she thinks Council should consider. The schools are contemplating reducing the building plan from five new schools to three new schools.

Brinda proposed a 50 percent reduction on plan review fees and only charging for a plan reviewing if the district has to resubmit building plans. This change will save the district about $250,000 and charging them for a plan reviewer only will save another $40,000.

This would be on top of a 20-percent reduction on building permit fees Council approved in 2017.

“We are doing what we can to help,” Brinda said.

Council members did not vote Monday night to allow additional time to gather information including how other cities handle such requests. Still, some Council members, consdering the district’s situation, wonder if the city could do more.

“To me, we are making an effort here. But to me, I would like to see what more we could do because they are a partner of ours,” said Councilman Vic Stewart, D-at large and head of the Finance Committee. “We have asked them to help us with other projects, so I want to see what we can do because moving forward they are really struggling with what’s before them.”

Brinda said any reduction would affect the Building Department, which is losing about $250,000 a year.

“The more we reduce, the more we will lose in our Building Department,” she said. “We are not breaking even now.”

Councilman Marcus Madison said he was glad the legislation was before Council. He said he is a supporter of the district and found a recent school board meeting where residents spoke about their concerns if the district changed the master plan to be powerful. He said the master plan is about providing the best resources for children and families, not just in his ward but in the entire city. He liked the idea of the reduction, but also said more information is needed before making a decision.

Brinda reminded Council that when the district built Elyria High School, the city provided no discounts.

“Certainly we want to be a good partner,” she said. “We can do more, but we have to figure out how we will pay for our own Building Department.”

Finance Director Ted Pileski said the city’s 2018 permanent budget is appropriated to the limit. If less revenue comes into the city in any way, Council will have to adjust the budget, he said. It is something Council must consider when the discussion turns to cutting fees.

In other news

A little more than 36 acres of land in Eaton Township will soon become a part of Elyria.

Last month, county commissioners voted to approve the annexation of land on Chestnut Ridge Road. Land developers pushed the annexation because they want Elyria to provide and manage its infrastructure. The city also will maintain the road included in the annexation.

On Monday night, members of the Community Development Committee voted to accept the land. Full Council will vote on the acceptance at its next Monday night meeting.

Law Director Scott Serazin said the legislation represents the last step to finalize the annexation. The city already has approved the annexation application. This step just allows the city to accept the land, he said.

The state will issue a new liquor license for a gas station/convenient store that is coming into the city as new construction on Beechwood Drive.

Friendship Food Store will be at 41186 Beechwood Drive, off Schaden Road.

This will be a “one-stop” place on the west side of town, said Councilman Tom Callahan, D-at large and head of the Community Development Committee.

The business, Beck Suppliers Inc, seeks a Permit Class C1 and C2 that allows for the sale of beer, wine and mixed beverages for carryout.

The city does not object to the application and does not request a state hearing.

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

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